Edinburgh Fringe:  Jo Caulfield on return of Fringe buzz to capital and gigs at The Stand

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The buzz of the festival is finally back - and for Jo Caulfield, it means a return to live shows in the heart of the city.

It’s been three years since she last took centre stage at The Stand, and the journey back has embraced online shows and socially distanced gigs.

But nothing can compare to full houses and a packed August itinerary at The Stand.

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After 2021’s limited events, the Fringe has burst back into life full throttle.

Jo Caulfield is at The Stand for the entire month-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Pic: Trudy Stade)Jo Caulfield is at The Stand for the entire month-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Pic: Trudy Stade)
Jo Caulfield is at The Stand for the entire month-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Pic: Trudy Stade)

“It feels like a proper return,” said Jo. “I’m really looking forward to it - just to have a full room again and the rush of the noise from audiences.

Performers are excited, but it’s a mix of feelings.

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“You look forward, but there is also a nervousness about how it is going to go. We’re glad to be here and keen to get into the swing of things. We want to get the first show done and then we’re are off and running.

Jo Caulfield (Pic: Trudy Stade)Jo Caulfield (Pic: Trudy Stade)
Jo Caulfield (Pic: Trudy Stade)

“It’s really good to hear that laughter coming from packed rooms.”

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Jo has been one of the top draws on the Fringe comedy circuit for two decades. As a resident of Edinburgh she gets to experience it from two very different perspectives.

“As a local I’m horrified there are people are everywhere!” she laughed, “but then I remember they could be coming to my show.

“The Fringe is such a huge event, and the money it brings into the city is incredible for all the businesses which benefit. It is so important.”

The return of a full programme is in contrast to the limited event which ran 12 months ago as the city continued to adapt to life with restrictions.

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Getting there has been a step by step process. Last year Jo did four socially distanced Fringe gigs. This year it’s a full month on stage - with just two nights off.

“Last year was a way of doing work to get us back to full gigs,” she said. “It was amazing how performers and audiences adapted as we went along.

“At first there was nothing when lockdown started.

“Then we all got used to Zoom calls with family and friends, and some comedy clubs realised they could use the platform for gigs, so that became a thing for a while

“Some liked it and others didn’t - and they were weird - but they were a way of getting us to where we are now.

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“They were a bit like a family Zoom call. We got to look straight into people’s houses, and see living rooms and kitchens which was great - I could criticise their decor!

“But, it also became a community. You’d see people who were on their own with a glass of wine enjoying the show, and having a laugh in the company of others.

“Then we moved to outdoor gigs where everyone sat in their own circles. In normal circumstances that wouldn’t really work for comedy, but people embraced it and made it work.

“Now we’re back to normal. The gap between the stage and the front row has gone, and we remember this is how it should be.”

“I’ve had messages from people saying they are coming to see my shows who have been before - it like seeing mates again.”