Absurd as it may seem, the ‘Are women funny?’ debate rages on. Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon answered emphatically in the affirmative in 30 Rock’s ‘Stride of Pride’ episode – as well as in every other episode of a brilliant comedy series with a female showrunner – and yet there is still a noticeable imbalance in many areas, particularly stand-up.
Last year, The Guardian investigated the female stand-up void and asked whether we need positive discrimination to right that imbalance. Perhaps, but with comics as assured as Jo Caulfield, the question is moot. Should venues book her because she’s female? No, they should book her because she is riotously funny, to men as well as to women.
There was no sign of gender divide in the Soho Theatre’s achingly cool downstairs space, where a mix of sexes and ages crowded around jazz-bar-esque round tables and plush booths. Caulfield powered through a strong 70-minute set, only meandering slightly at the end because – as she cheerfully revealed – she’d had to rejig it from two 45-minute sets and her ending accidentally happened two-thirds of the way through. No matter: by that point, the audience was more than happy to go along for the ride.