Jo Caulfield talks about her new radio show in Norfolk
Comedian Jo Caufield won't shut up about her love for Norfolk.
Jo won’t shut up about her love for Norfolk
As Jo Caulfield prepares for a new radio show, Abigail Saltmarsh caught up with the garrulous stand-up who spent part of her childhood in the county.
She may be an outgoing, chatty person but comedian Jo Caulfield is still looking for friends. The stand-up comic, who spent much of her childhood in Norfolk, is currently intrigued by the issue of friendship and will be exploring it in her new Radio 4 show, Jo Caulfield Won’t Shut up, beginning this month.“My radio show, like my other shows, is very ‘me centric’,” she explains. “I talk about things that have happened to me and, at the moment in particular, about my friendships. “So, for example, I talk about a friend of mine I used to go out with a lot until she fell madly in love. I also compare the fact that my husband and I sit at opposite ends of the sofa to each other while they stare into each other’s eyes all loved up!”Jo, 43, who regularly appears on TV panel shows such as Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week, also asks the audience to come up with descriptions of her to help her find a friend.“One said I looked like Vanessa Feltz with a puncture, another said Kate Moss’s auntie!” she says.Jo admits she just can’t help talking to the audience – hence the name of the radio show and her live tour that will see her come to the Norwich Playhouse at the end of January – and before she knows it, time has run out.
"I try not to talk to the audience too much but I really just can’t help it,” she says. “I just get caught up in all their stories.”Last year, for example, she told an embarrassing story about buying her own autograph from ebay. A friend told her it was up there and she just couldn’t resist a look.“I’d only ever been asked for my autograph about twice so I was fascinated. Then I realised it was on for 50p! I decided to bid it up a bit – and ended up buying it myself for �17. But what was even worse was that I had to pay by cheque and so the seller knew it was me!”She told her story and then asked the audience who they had approached for autographs.“I was really interested and it was fascinating. There was such a mixture. Someone had a Nobel Prize winner – and then someone else had Bob Carolgees. It just went on and on. “This is why I only allow myself to do this sort of thing in one section of the show – because I get so caught up in it.” She adds: “I love the fact it’s all so random.”
Jo, who was born in Wales, first moved to Norfolk at the age of one. The family had been living in Northern Ireland and her dad, a teacher, felt that joining the RAF would give them the chance to travel.“Other people were going off to Malaysia or Singapore with the airforce but we never went abroad. My parents didn’t mind, they loved the fact they were ‘exploring’ England and they loved Norfolk,” she says.Their first stint in the county saw the family live at RAF Marham, where Jo’s father taught airmen and her mother was the only teacher, other than the head, at tiny Fincham Village School.“My mum had to teach half the children in the school, including my brother and sister,” she says. “But I was too young to go.“When we arrived in Norfolk I wasn’t even walking. I learned to walk on Brancaster Beach. There are pictures of me leaning up against the wind, using it almost like a baby walker!”
A second posting to Norfolk saw the family based at RAF Coltishall.“I lived there between the ages of seven and 10 – and it was absolutely idyllic,” she remembers. “I went to Buxton primary, which I just loved and we’d spend our spare time cycling down the country lanes and rowing on the Norfolk Broads.“I loved being able to go to the sea at any time of year – not just summer. It was a very happy time, playing on Mundesley beach or persuading my parents to take us to the fair at Yarmouth during the summer.”
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At the age of 17, Jo left home and moved to London to sing and play drums in a rockabilly band. She says she always knew she wanted to work in comedy or performance, but it wasn’t until she stepped up at an open mic session while working as a waitress that she discovered her love of stand-up.
Jo’s job is now her passion. She divides her time between performing live, writing for the likes of Graham Norton, Ruby Wax, Joan Rivers, Anne Robinson and Denise Van Outen, appearing on panel programmes and recording her radio shows.“I think I love my work so much because I do so many different things,” she says. “At the moment I’m trying to write 15 new jokes every day and then when I do my shows, I ask the audience to judge them. “It’s great because each time it gives me another 20 minutes of material.”
Her Norwich show will be a mixture of material from her Edinburgh nights, her new radio programmes and other material she is still developing.She’s also had a commission for a BBC sitcom, based on an idea from Jo Caulfield Won’t Shut Up, which features people playing her Scottish husband and her parents, and she will be appearing regularly on Radio 5 live with Christian O’Connell and Bob Mills throughout the autumn.“I’m hoping there will be some more panel shows too. It’s funny because it takes a while to learn how to do them as they are very different from stand-up.”And she adds: “What I really love is being able to do lots of different things, especially the stand-up and radio shows where I can talk to the audience.“I do have to limit myself to just talking to them for one section, however, because it’s true that otherwise I just won’t shut up.”
Jo Caulfield Won’t Shut Up begins on Radio 4 on Tuesday, October 20, at 6.30pm. The half-hour episodes will run for four weeks.Jo Caulfield will be appearing live at the Norwich Playhouse on Saturday, January 30. For more information or to book tickets call 01603 598598 or visit www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk