‘Does everything look better when it’s lit from behind?’ Mumbles about drawing, digital vs paper.

I had a go on procreate. I don’t know if I like it. They sort of look ok on the screen (does everything look better when it’s lit from behind?)  but I can’t tell what the colours will do if they were printed. Everything looks somehow impressive on a screen, and yet.. not.

Last October I did a drawing challenge, I drew every day, basing my drawings on my Nana’s advice, and now I’m compiling them into a book, but these digital drawings need to be re-drawn. They were made because it got too late to photograph a paper page. Of course I could have scanned a drawing, but I’ve only just thought of that.

My favourite drawings were in pen and ink (dip pen). It feels good to be slightly out of control. When I was a kid, I used to copy Ronald Searle’s drawings (he famously used pen and ink of course) and one of the lessons that really stuck with me from Art School, was that you can tell the energy of a line.

My challenge this month is to assemble a pencil case of messy materials, and then draw outdoors and on the hoof, to see if the materials work. I drew on the South Downs, one finger holding onto the paint palette, on hand holding a pot of water and my sketchbook and the other three fingers worked the brush. The result was like something a 5 year old could have done, but that wasn’t important. The sketchbooks where the drawings are from life, are an incredible record of a moment. Your brain remembers everything about what you looked at and felt – the outdoors light and weather.. they are lovely diaries.

Next up, I am keeping my sketchbook diary again. Although they feel really non-eventful to draw, time turns them into something else entirely.

Anyone else keep a sketchbook? I might do some top tips if that would be interesting. I have a few.





‘Does everything look better when it’s lit from behind?’ Mumbles about drawing, digital vs paper.

Curious People: Explaining the dolphin at Nine Lessons

Even though the Nine Lessons shows by Cosmic Shambles Network, are some of the most diverse, inspiring and bonkers nights I have ever had the pleasure of joining in with, when I was onstage at Nine Lessons For Curious People at King’s Place in London last December, doing this character, my Dolphin who talks about politics, I had a feeling that I needed to explain. I mean, I wasn’t a scientist and it wasn’t recognisably stand up comedy, unless you are used to  alternative comedy of circa 1992.

So after some jokes and still in the dolphin voice,  I told the audience that I felt I needed to explain what was happening. There was the laughter of relief. I told them that I went to art school for 7 years, and learnt I could make something out of nothing. (Namely weird theatre shows, made from desire, a deadline and no budget whatsoever, but I didn’t say that bit). And that THIS is the result. It seemed to relax everyone, including me and I’m glad I did it. I didn’t think of it until I was standing in the wings with Cosmic Mel. But that’s fine. If you know Robin Ince, you’ll be used to him and people like him and me suddenly trying new stuff.

Before I went onstage, Harry Hill advised that I needed to pad out the top of the dolphin because the head bit was too floppy. So I took my socks off, and stuffed the top. Harry was right, this looked much better. Ponged though.

For those who don’t know, Nine Lessons are nights with scientists, musicians, comedians and oddballs, and I’m thrilled to see that Robin Ince and The Cosmic Shambles Network have recently made a documentary about these shows, have a look. It’s called Curious People: An Incomplete History Of Nine Lessons and Compendium.

You can see a trailer for it HERE. 

My memories include:

not recognising Jim Bob after hanging out together for four nights, because he’d put a pair of glasses on,

singing backing vocals with Robyn Hitchcock,

discussing what Twerking might be with Grace Petrie (‘can you do it of your own volition?’),

watching Neil Hannon soundcheck and pretending to be nonplussed (I was with my husband who contained himself and casually whispered ‘this is my favourite song’),

and talking about Old Wives Tales with Simon Singh.

I started out doing theatre and worked with art student friends Jason Pegg from Clearlake, film-maker Ben Rivers and a cardboard cow. I once made a doll out of fir cones and played God in the style of Groucho Marx.

After Maddy Costa’s review, who said I’d be better off making a baby, I moved to the ‘comedy’ section of what was then a 5-page brochure and found my audience. Now, I am touring BOOKTALKBOOKTALKBOOK with Ben Moor, and my solo comedy shows ‘WASP IN A CARDIGAN’, ‘STINKY’, and developing new shows, ‘2B Or Not 2B – Drawn to Stories’ for children, and inspired by last weekend’s Exeter Comedy Festival’s little try out show in a knitting shop, I’m working on more ‘WOOLLY STORIES’, in which I put my drawings and comedy together (again).

This photo is by Natalie Shaw for The Cosmic Shambles Network.

Curious People: Explaining the dolphin at Nine Lessons


yes, that’s me. An artist, doing exhibitions. *bows*

My name is Joanna Neary and I went to Art School for what might be a record-breaking SEVEN YEARS. And I’m still mulling over doing an MA after all that.

Since graduating, I have kept on drawing and painting. I’ve had recent exhibitions with Artwave and have another coming up in Brighton soon. If anyone would like to buy an original painting or commission something, please get in touch. I’m going to get some cards made soon.

Sketchbooks are important. It means we can find each other.

I once recognised a fellow Falmouth School Of Art And Design (which is what it was called when I was there, rosy cheeked and fresh out of Pool Comprehensive School, just 20 miles down the road in Redruth) on the train because she took out a sketchbook. In the late 1980’s, us art students were instructed by our Falmouth Tutors that sketchbooks were tremendously important and must be carried about everywhere with us, and preferably drawn in, and ALL OF US have been keeping a daily sketchbook about our person ever since.


Honestly, next time I see you, ask to see my sketchbook. I will have it on me, I’m lost without it. It’s like some kind of additional limb but less useful.

Celia will compere a show soon, my comedy and art collide.

Happily, for the last few years, I’ve been doing the odd illustration for people and things, starting with Sarah Millican’s Standard Issue online magazine and then Sarah’s Christmas Card, and since then, exhibitions. Here are some snaps from the one just gone. Coming up next – Atelier Brighton with Jonny Hannah and Friends. And my Celia character from my Wife On Earth Podcast and as heard on Radios 3, 4, 6, and TVs BBC and Ch4 might be making an appearance there as compere, with Jonny’s band The Postmen… watch this space… (or subscribe for the mailing list and you’ll be the first to hear. I love having a mailing list and I never bombard people with mail outs, I’m too busy dancing about and drawing. *twing*)


East Sussex, 20th Sept 2023



September 2023 Eastbourne show update – WITH NEWLY ADDED GEORGE EGG

Sadly Tony had to pull out of the Eastbourne Comedy Night, so we’re thrilled to welcome GEORGE EGG back again, with a version of his live cooking show. Ticket link is here


Plus Dan Evans and me, Joanna Neary. Hope you can make it, if you fancy (and can navigate train strikes, Rugby Final, Peaches playing up the road and general malaise). x

September 2023 Eastbourne show update – WITH NEWLY ADDED GEORGE EGG

Don’t laugh at huge waves with your mouth open

Joanna Neary here, ello

Hello my friends, I hope you are enjoying summer. We went in four different seas in Cornwall last week, one was choppy, one was deep, one was like being kicked up the bum by surprising waves and the fourth was grey skies but deceptively warm. Swimming in the sea makes me laugh, but in terms of safety it’s not ideal, laughing at huge waves with your mouth open.

Then we got back in time for Airborne which was frankly terrifying. We had a Lancaster bomber circling our home, they are such beautiful designs if you don’t think too hard about the war machine bit. Joanna NERVY more like.

Thank you to everyone who came to see my comedy show Wasp In A Cardigan at the first ever Eastbourne Fringe, it was smashing to see so many people come along to a dark wood lined theatre on a sunny July Friday night. The show is touring this year and so here I am, updating my website for the first time since about 2021. I’ve been too busy making up new voices, drawing and swimming in the sea. Admin? Badmin.

This summer I did my chancy new show at Latitude and it went really well so I’m going back next year and am developing it a bit more. All my comedy colleagues (well, most of them ) are in Edinburgh for the Fringe, if you’re up there too, I hope you are having a ball and do go and see dear old bean Robin Ince for me. I wish I could have seen his two shows this year BUT we are having him back in Eastbourne with his whole show in December (the 9th if you want to put it in your diary) so we’ll see Robin then.

The main thing I’m doing is writing a book, and I’d love to know what you think. I have three big ideas, and one of them is a book like a school annual called CELIA. It’ll have drawings, comic strips, illustrated stories, games, quizzes.. all based on my uptight housewife. What do you think? Would you like to see a book like that? I’m not trying to sell it to you, but I’d love to get an idea of whether or not an arty book that’s funny about my most popular character would be interesting and a nice thing to see. Let me know if you have a sec, I’d be most grateful.


In the meantime, if anyone would like to see and hear more of my shenanigans, here’s a clickable link to my Celia on Radio 4 series Wosson Cornwall 

and another to my filmed show Wife On Earth which went to Edinburgh as Wasp In A Cardigan. It got lots of great reviews, including this one from The List (****) and is available to buy as a download from the mighty Go Faster Stripe.

Finally for now = I’ll be taking part in two art exhibitions this autumn, one with Jonny Hannah in Brighton and at The White Rose Workshop in Newhaven which you can find here.

Thank you for reading to the bottom. Here is a section of my desk blotting paper, I’ve been making Folk Horror inspired prints. I do hope you are all well. Love Jo.

Don’t laugh at huge waves with your mouth open

Joanna Neary: Wasp In A Cardigan | Edinburgh Fringe Show 2022

Thank you in advance, for reading my post. I’m a bit tired after doing a show in the middle of nowhere last night, and not getting home till 2am. Edit button is defunct.

I’m pleased to announce that I’m doing my stand up comedy show at The Stand this August. The shows start on 5th August and continue until the 28th, with a day off on the 15th. There’s a preview show on the 4th which is bound to be a lark and the tickets for that one are cheaper, I think.

The show is called Joanna Neary: Wasp In A Cardigan and features many of my alter-egos, being charming and annoyed, sometimes simultaneously, whatever’s the most fun.

You can get tickets HERE and please feel free to bring your friends, I promise we’ll have an excellent time.

In the meantime, for virtual entertainment, for the lead up to the shows, and including the time in Edinburgh I’m doing a silly daily drawing challenge on social media for 100 days. I’ve created the hashtag #100DaysOfFringeFun so have a look if you fancy. To join in, follow me on instagram or twitter so you’ll see the daily prompt and then post your Edinburgh Fringe inspired drawing using the hashtag, so I get to see it too. Feel free to use it to share shows that you’ve seen or done in Edinburgh’s past, or have coming up this year. I’d love to see your sketches and stories.

Once we’re in Edinburgh, we’ll be organising sketch drawing groups, competitions and live drawing events, with the chance to win a commissioned portrait, to raise money for charity. More on that sooooonnnn!

Prompt for Day 23 is POTATO

Today is Day 23 and I’m going to be doing the prompt ‘Potato’ you can see the drawing later on today on instagram and twitter. I haven’t done it yet.

Jo x

Joanna Neary: Wasp In A Cardigan | Edinburgh Fringe Show 2022

May News and dates: Tickets now available

My spring shows coming up: 


Saturday 7th May – solo comedy show WIFE ON EARTH Tinner’s Moon Festival, Ashburton

Devon, you say? Tickets please!

Sunday 8th May – children’s comedy show ‘STINKY MCFISH AND THE WORLD’S WORST WISH’  Tinner’s Moon Festival, Ashburton

Might as well go to both shows in Devon. Give me a ticket


Saturday 30th April –LORD GOD Robertsbridge, East Sussex. 

Go on then, give me tickets to Robertsbridge. 

Saturday 14th May and Sunday 15th May – WIFE ON EARTH at 5pm, The Rialto Theatre, Brighton Fringe.

Any excuse to see a show in Brighton! Tickets please


Our sell-out comedy night is just ace, a tiny room and a wonderful audience, Zoe Lyons said it reminded her of what she loves about doing comedy. 

After a hiatus, like everyone, we’re thrilled to be back. I’ve even bought new lighting and made some weird back drops that Robin Ince compared to a Fabric Stonehenge.


Friday 27th May – WIFE ON EARTH 7.30pm At Upstairs At The Western, Leicester 

Leicester is PERFECT! Take me there right away. 


Please come to these ones if you fancy, and bring everyone you meet along the way. The venues are very kindly putting on people who aren’t famous and don’t have a big machine behind them (unless you can count our nearby RNLI LifeBoat, but even then, ‘machine’ is stretching it, as is ‘nearby’). If people come along to these, I won’t look like a complete liability. I know I’ve sold tickets but the more the merrier. Thank you again in advance.


Friday 15th July – Hen And Chickens Theatre, London A double bill of Jo’s new show Wasp In A Cardigan and Ben Moor’s Who Here’s Lost?


Thank you to everyone who has already supported me, our nights and these little independent venues, it means the world, it really does. And thank you in advance to those of you who are thinking about it. Might see you soon then, come and say hello. 

If you’ve recently asked for a drawing, it’s on its way. Thank you for your patience.

x Jo

May News and dates: Tickets now available

Eastbourne Comedy At The Lamb IS BACK! Tickets out now, 28th May 2022

Hello Eastbourne and East Sussex Subscribers!

Just a quick one to say that we are starting up our comedy night at The Lamb Inn, High St, Eastbourne again regularly and tickets are now on sale for the first one of these, Saturday 28th May.

Massive thank you to all our brilliant audiences who have joined us for our stumble back to normality, with Robin Ince returning back in October, and Isy Suttie delighting everyone this January with her stand up and new book ‘Jane Is Trying’, it was wonderful to see so many of you back again. We will carry on keeping doors and windows open before and after the show, to help everyone feel nicely aired.

We are planning to do the show on the LAST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH (except August because I’m in Edinburgh and you’ll all be paddling in the sea I expect and maybe not October because that’ll be Halloween Eve and the pub might have a big costume party on, but we’ll do something that month I’m sure..)

We’re keeping numbers down still, to make everyone feel very comfortable but it does mean that booking in advance is a must. Hope to see you there!

Give me my tickets

To summarise, the line up is

  • Andrew O’Neill, as seen on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, brilliant stand up and author of ‘The History Of Heavy Metal’.

  • Mr G Reaper, AKA Death, back at the Lamb Inn by popular demand, he can be glimpsed beforehand checking his scythe in the window reflection behind the washing machine in the back room.

  • Jo Neary trying out new stuff, including a short play with a cast of thousands.

  • Dyball & Kerr wit their cavalcade of original and startling characters, including the likes of Darren and Dean, the Football Fans (And Operetta Fans) of Kemptown’s Rainbow District and other apparitions besides.

    here’s what the ticket site says =

WE’RE BACK! Last Saturday of the month, kicking off this May with a wonderful line up, award-winning Occult Comedian Andrew O’Neill (Saxondale, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, author of A History Of Heavy Metal) joins the gang at The Lamb Inn for the first time. Andrew is brilliant. Anarchic, warm, hilarious, charming, just perfect for our bonkers night and we’re thrilled they can join us.

Plus the eagerly awaited return of Mr G Reaper AKA Death with his soothing words of wisdom and doom..

And as ever, regulars Dyball & Kerr with their astonishingly hilarious and recognisable character comedy based on everyone you’ve ever met in the Sussex area, and hostess Joanna Neary with her newest creations, World Premiering At The Lamb.

We are still running at a reduced capacity, to help people keep a distance and feel safe.

If it’s warm enough, we’ll keep the windows and door open, if it’s a bit breezy, we’ll pull the doors to during the show. We’ll have hand sanitiser for everyone and mask wearers are very welcome, do what feels best for you.

All acts will check they test negative for Covid before the show and as such we reserve the right to tweak the line ups accordingly, to keep everyone safe.

We’d very much appreciate you taking a test before coming out or staying away if you have symptoms, and in that case, we will give you free tickets for the next show if you have to miss this one.

Due to limited capacity, booking is essential.

Welcome back! Jo & Friends

Photo credit for Andrew O’Neill = Steve Brown

See you there, East Sussex friends!

X Jo

Eastbourne Comedy At The Lamb IS BACK! Tickets out now, 28th May 2022


Helloooooooo and welcome back to my news desk!

I hope all is well with you, thank you for sticking around. I don’t think I’ve done a news update since nothing much happened last time. I’ve been cooking from scratch a lot, planning some new things for you to see, and have tidied all the paper for drawing and collage into organised boxes at long last, so new arty things will be on the way soon.

Latest news #1 = I’m doing Brighton Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, with my solo comedy show. It’s more stand up and jokes and less theatrical pauses and wigs. I am so excited about trying new things.

Witterings #2 = Today I went down the allotment and trod on a nail but it only stuck into my shoe. After treading on a nail, I came home and someone on instagram had sent a reply ‘Nine Inch Nails’ and I thought, well what a coincidence, experiencing a nail, and then it being followed up with a further mention of a musical outfit of imagined nails.

I can still feel where the actual nail went into my shoe but happily it only left a red mark. My foot is in shock at the thought of the nail though, it’s slightly throbbing, unpleasantly.

It all started last night, when someone posted a picture of a rock t-shirt with ‘and you could have it all, my empire of dirt’ with a mouse on a skateboard looking pleased, and immediately Will Oldham sprang to mind, and Johnny Cash singing, so I said about it. In the end (I’m cutting this short because it’s getting silly) it turned out NOT to be ‘I See A Darkness’ written by W. Oldham and covered by J. Cash but HURT covered by J. Cash and written by the Nails. Somewhere there is a venn diagram explaining all this. It’s got me in the middle looking all confused and information that everyone else knows, in either circle.

Latest News #2 = As well as playing numerous characters including ‘a Julie Walters-esque maid’ (Audience member) in Philip Reeve’s (Mortal Engines, Pugs Of The Frozen North) and Brian Mitchell’s (Ministry of Biscuits) musical play ‘Lord God’ in Eastbourne and Sheppey recently, I’ve been doing my comedy show in a double bill with Ben Moor. I had a lovely time adding stand up to my menagerie of characters-based-on-real-people in Margate, and that’s the show in development that’s going to Edinburgh this August. In the meantime, if you’d like to see the show as a film for all the family, it’s just £5 to download. It was filmed by Go Faster Stripe in autumn 2021. It’s great. It really is.


FINALLY, here are the shows I’ve got coming up this month, it’d be lovely if you’d like to come along. The London one was postponed from December so it’s going to be a Christmassy one, which will be nice. So that’s Milton Keynes, London and Farsley, Yorkshire. Plus one April Lord God show in Sussex at the end of the month. MORE IN MAY…ta ra for now!

Comedy night gigs and shows for April 2022:

Wed 13th April – Screaming Blue Murder Comedy Night, Milton Keynes. Tickets

Sat 16th April – Comedy At The Constitutional, Farsley, Leeds. Tickets

Sun 17th April – Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People – Easter Edition, King’s Place, London. Tickets

Sat 30th April – Lord God the Musical, Robertsbridge, Sussex. Tickets

This image is a doodle from my sketchbook of my family watching The Great Pottery Throw Down. It’s nice, that show, isn’t it? 


Just noticed ‘nine’ appeared again, as in inch nails and lessons and carols.




School Run, Sweets And Swears.

A Family Portrait. School Run, Sweets and Swears.

Laddie was livid this morning because I wouldn’t let him have sweets for breakfast. He punched a pillow and angrily muttered words that weren’t swearing because he knows that’d be overstepping the mark. He didn’t even use the D-word.

Last week he asked if he could tell us the swear words he knows, so far. Laddie is very very interested in swearing, including all the hand gestures. Go on then, we said. He took a deep breath. ‘ I know the C-word, the F-word, the D-word and the B-word’. The D-word happily deflected from the horrifying unholy trinity of the others. ‘What’s the D-word, love?’ I asked. ‘Dick’, he said.

Yesterday, recovering from the D bombshell, Paul says we should ask him what the C-word is, in case it’s a b-list c-word like cock or clot-head and we can all breath out again.

The other day, while we sorted through his baby books, Laddie asked if he could whisper a newly found word to me, ’to see if it’s a swear’. I agreed, and immediately forgetting how to whisper, he leaned in close and he shouted ‘bastard’ into my earhole. Acknowledging that this was indeed a new weapon in the arsenal that he was presumably saving up for a diatribe on his 16th birthday, he continued contentedly looking at pictures of fluffy owls.

He certainly looked like he was thinking all the something-words after I’d forbidden breakfast sweets.

Apparently David sometimes has a whole tube of Polos in his bag at school, for no reason.

I looked at Laddie’s angry red face and relented. He could have a single Mint Imperial in his cool bag. Laddie counter-offered and asked for two. I conceded to the dear innocent fool. It’s only a matter of time before he discovers he can raise it to ten and I’ll meet him in the middle at five. He stopped punching the pillow and began twirling about on his haunches, like a tiny cossack in a school jumper. Suddenly I noticed the time. I’d already checked it quarter of an hour earlier, but not thoroughly enough. I’d looked up from my book.

‘What’s the time love?’

He stopped balancing on one crouched foot on the end of the sofa arm and jumped down to squint at the digital clock on the mantlepiece. Which by the way, had been aggressively positioned in front of my ticking one. For someone who is constantly exploring the same amplified riff for eight days at a time with only a momentary key change for relief, and all the while watching the cricket, on loud, my husband Paul is very sensitive to tiny 1960’s deceased-persons-retirement-present mechanical tappy sounds.

‘What’s the time?’

A long pause.

‘It’s… 9.28’.


‘I mean 7.51’.


‘No, 7.51’.

‘Oh, ok. That’s very different from 9.28’.

‘I got it wrong’.

‘You got it very wrong. 9.28 and 7.51? None of those digits are even the same’.

Just fourteen minutes later, it’s 8.13.

‘Love. I think it must have said 7.59’. Get your shoes and coat on, I’ll get both mints and I’ll meet you by the front door’.

Our house is very small. It’s quite hard not to be by the front door at all times, but I was injecting the thrill of jeopardy. No one wants to be even a minute late for school. The spotlight that shines down, as you walk all on your own through the quiet corridors and enter the classroom with an off-putting sense of being both a distraction and a nuisance, while brazenly breaking some law, must be powerful indeed.

A tiny stainless steel food tin has appeared next to Laddie’s lunch bag. Preparation for the Ideal Transportation of Sweet Treat Station is underway. Once outside, the mint vehicle shows its design flaws. It’s rattling about with every step like an amplified maraca.

The rhythm lulls us into a trance and our minds wander away and back again.

‘Mum, you know when a scooter is behind you?’


‘Well, when me and dad were ????’ (something so mind-bendingly specific and odd, that I was startled out of listening. Something like ‘when we were in full camo-gear on the Cuckoo Trail on September 7th 2020, heading back to the car to see if I’d left my penguin toy there before going on an expedition’)…’he had two keyring attached to his rucksack and they were making a noise, and I kept thinking there was a scooter behind me’. I realised he was musing about the minty commotion. ‘Ah, did you think your two mints were a motorbike?’ ‘I said scooter, not motorbike’. My family usually like exaggerating for comic effect, but this one’s a pedant.

It felt a bit bad, putting two sweets in his packed lunch. Time to make amends with a swift warning chat. ‘Have you brushed your teeth this morning?’ ‘Um, no’. I then make a speech so thorough and terrifying about the importance of having a full set of your own teeth and how mine was smashed out by the root when I was 9, that he slows down and looks visibly shaken. For a moment we both consider walking back home and brushing his teeth and then setting off again, but we can’t risk the Walk of Lateness. It would be a right P-word.

I call him Laddie here by the way, to protect his identity in case it was unclear. He can decide for himself if he wants to the world to know about his life when he’s older. For now, he can be my dependable fictional creation. He came up to me after school as I sat here typing this, and leant his head on my shoulder. ‘Mum? Do you know that only Americans burn in hell?’ ‘WHAT do you mean?!’ What new indoctrinating playground bants is this? ‘It’s what Jarett Kobek said’. He was reading the title of my breakfast book, which is now lying beside me.


Jo Neary is currently appearing in Lord God, a few dates are coming up in December in Brighton and the surrounding areas including Eastbourne in 2022. You can see her latest solo comedy show, Joanna Neary – Wife On Earth in Aldershot on 16th December in a double bill with excellent performer Ben Moor. Aldershot tickets available HERE. 

School Run, Sweets And Swears.