Tell us about your show. Why should we go and see it?
It’s a Celebration of Anger.
It’s straight Stand Up – there’s no tedious xxx crowbarred in to hold it together. There’s no theme or gimmick. I don’t need that. I can write jokes. I won the Comedians Comedian Award this year. I know what I’m doing.
I’ve overheard SO many conversations backstage at comedy clubs where a comedian will say something mundane like “I went to Malta last month and the airline lost my luggage” and someone else will say “You should write a Fringe show about that”.
NO! NO YOU SHOULDN’T. NOT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN LIFE IS WORTH REPEATING.
Write some jokes! No-one cares about your lost suitcase. Well, not unless your diabetic. And your insulin is in the missing suitcase. But when the airline eventually delivers your suitcase it turns out to be the wrong one. And this one is full of chocolate and sugary snacks. And you’re incredibly hungry…
You finish it, I’m not writing your show for you!
Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?
I am very much part of a team. It’s me AND the audience against the rest of the world.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?
I’m really hoping I can get through the whole Fringe without developing an alcohol problem. It’s wonderful to bump into so many comedian-friends every day but they always say the same thing: “Do you want to grab a quick drink?” No-one ever says “do you want to grab a quick falafel wrap? Or a green tea and a small salad?” Well, no-one except for Gavin Webster.
What makes you laugh?
Everything. I laugh at Joan Rivers and I laugh at Laurel & Hardy.
I’ve always liked Jack Dee. I like his ability to take the most mundane experiences – going to the supermarket, talking to his wife, redecorating the living room – things we all do, every day – and pointing out the most ridiculous aspects, turning them into hilarious routines. Routines we can all relate to because we’ve all experienced them – we just didn’t notice.
The connection is Joan Rivers, Laurel & Hardy and Jack Dee all set out to make the audience laugh. Not flaunt their intelligence, or belittle the audience, or lecture them. And they were all happy to be the butt of their own jokes. Share their own inadequacies. I like that because I’ve got loads of inadequacies to share.
What is it that made you a performer?
A complete lack of any other worthwhile skills. Before comedy I was a waitress. But I was a maverick waitress – I took orders from no-one.
TBH I went to a comedy club one night and thought “those people onstage look like they’re having fun. I want to do that”.
I gave it a try and was instantly hooked. Then came the long learning curve. And the learning continues to this day. I don’t know one single comedian who has any idea what they’re doing.
I think being a ‘performer’ is being a heightened version of myself. The ME that I would like to be 24/7. No censorship, no holding back. Not hiding my disapproval of others or anger at any subject.
James Newell Osterberg said “I wish I could be Iggy Pop every minute of every day but I can’t. I’d be locked up.” I know that feeling.
How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?
That would be very presumptuous for me to say.
I do know I have a lot of people who come back year after year. I stand outside after every show (I collect for Macmillan Cancer Support) and people are laughing and smiling, so I must be doing something right. I’m happy to chat to them all. More times than not, groups of women ask me to come along with them for a drink. If someone wants a photo I’m flattered.
Three years ago a slightly drunk, elderly Scottish gentleman asked for a photo, I said “yes, of course”, so we stood there. For a good sixty seconds we stood there. Nothing happened. Eventually I said “who’s taking the photo?” And he said “I thought you would have an official photographer?” I must have looked confused because then he said “I’m just joking…..I don’t want your photo. I saw all those people talking to you and I have a spare 5 minutes until my bus comes”.
Then he winked at me and walked off!
Apparently he hadn’t been at the show. He was just a slightly drunk, elderly Scottish gentleman out enjoying himself!
Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?
I genuinely look forward to the taxi drivers. Edinburgh Taxi Drivers are a very special breed. I’ve met a couple who refuse to work during the Fringe because “Aye there’s money to be made but the roads are too busy”. I met another who told me “I’m not into comedy. I can’t be arsed with all that laughter and stuff”. My favourite is the driver who gives reviews of Fringe shows based purely on what the performers were like as passengers in his car! There’s 2 drivers live in my street. More times than not I’ve ended up hailing one of their cabs and been given all the gossip about *our neighbours* on the way home.
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?
Pack suntan lotion, a rain jacket, flip flops and an umbrella – Edinburgh in August is hot, then cold, wet, then dry. It’s like the whole city is going through the menopause.
Don’t read reviews. The audiences response is all you need. The audience will tell you if your show is good or bad.
Mention a dead relative, a mental health problem or sexual abuse around the 40 minute mark. Any earlier than that and you’ll lose a star.
Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?
My 1st Fringe way back in 2001. I turned up at the venue and saw my face on a huge poster. I was so proud. Then I noticed a drunken man doing the traditional Scottish thing of urinating in the street — all over my face! Not quite the Fringe welcome I was hoping for but it has always stuck with me. The Guardian gave him 4 stars for his “gritty portrayal of inner-city existence and the futility of life” … while the Edinburgh Evening News said “he was drunk and causing a disturbance”.
Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.
Mark Kelly. He went under the name of Mr Nasty. He had a great line: “The critics said my Edinburgh show lacked direction … I did it in Glasgow”.
That pretty much sums up the Fringe to me.
Jo Caulfield – “Here Comes Trouble”
8.20 pm at Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3EB
5th to 28th August (15 or 22)