It’s pretty likely you’ve already encountered comedian Jo Caulfield. If you’ve not seen her TV appearances on Mock The Week, you may well have listened to her on Radio 4’s The News Quiz or even heard Graham Norton telling one of her jokes. She’s a stand-up comic, a writer, an actor and — when performing — an entertainingly caustic observer of humanity.
Fortunately, the off-stage Jo is much gentler. She describes her on-stage persona as “a heightened version of me” who speaks before she thinks and can talk non-stop for two hours. I ask Jo what she’s talking about at the moment.
“Life”, she tells me. “That’s the simplest way to put it. All the things in life that make me angry or annoyed. But it’s a celebration of anger, a cathartic evening where we all get to let rip. We have little control over the big things in life so I say take control and rail against the small stuff.”
This month Jo’s visiting Lewes for the first time. What’s she expecting?
“I know people who live there and from their description I am expecting a medieval town full of cyclists and children who knit their own organic computers, but mainly people who don’t like Brighton. Also I think you do something weird to a Catholic on Bonfire Night?”
Ouch. We prefer the word ‘traditional’ rather than ‘weird’. Anyway, what’s it like going on a tour that includes smaller clubs alongside larger theatres? “They’re both good in different ways. In a big venue you can physically feel the roar of the crowd, which is exhilarating. But in a small venue the thrill is the intimacy of the performance, you have much more scope to improvise and get to know the audience. Also you’re more likely to get someone in the audience to buy you a drink after the show, whereas in a big venue I have to run down the street afterwards yelling ‘Don’t deny it! I know you were in the audience. A white wine please!’”
It’s a vivid picture, although I can’t imagine it has much basis in reality. Which prompts the question: how do you write comedy?
“There is no set way of coming up with material. Sometimes a routine will just fall fully formed out of your mouth on stage. Other times I can sit and think about a subject for weeks. I carry a notebook with me all the time and scribble down anything that makes me angry or annoyed. My notebook would keep a team of psychiatrists very busy for a long, long time.”
For example? “During Christmas I caught my husband sellotaping the TV remote to the Radio Times magazine. He said it would save time. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen. I mentioned it on stage and all the women were laughing while all the men were saying ‘That’s a brilliant idea! Why didn’t we think of that? Your husband is a genius’.”
Sun 2, 8pm, Con Club, £11, jocaulfield.com
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 89 February 2014.