Wasp In A Cardigan


Wasp In A Cardigan

Edinburgh Fringe 2022, touring 2023/2024. Watch this space for dates.

Reviews for this show:

Wasp In A Cardigan Press Edinburgh 2022

**** The List

Joanna Neary breaks with character comedy tradition and surprisingly opens her show by briefly appearing as herself, sharing the pitfalls of living as an eccentric freelance artiste in the vanilla confines of Eastbourne. Elsewhere, however, all the usual wonderful Neary hallmarks are in place.

Twittish romantic Celia Johnson hosts a whole gang of larger-than-life characters plucked from Neary’s own experience or very loosely inspired by famous folk. There’s Cornish school friend Morwenna, a version of Kate Bush who is obsessed with the drawer in everyone’s kitchen where the junk lives, and Björk singing about whatever it is Björk sings about. They move through the hour entertaining us with interpretive dances and a cavalcade of dodgy wigs while the titular wasp climbs up the charity totaliser cardigan, feeding on the applause.

Neary’s universe is eclectic and other-worldly; you can’t help but wonder whether it was the Cornish upbringing that put the quirk in her bones. But over that she lays an almost instinctive turn of phrase, squeezing humour out of tall tales of the WI, Cornish friendships and  bizarre celebrity impressions; you don’t get much more ‘fringe’ than this. For those already on board, you show go, as this is typical Neary brilliance. For the uninitiated, where have you been? (Marissa Burgess)

Stewart Lee for his Edinburgh recommendations at the end of July (he had seen a preview)

More surgically precise strangeness from the Exene Cervenka of quirky character comedy

Stewart Lee for ‘Edinbuegh Extra 2 – August 15th 2022’ and ‘Edinbuegh Extra 3 – August 20th 2022 ‘And I also loved’ mail out reviews. (he had seen the Edinburgh show at the Edinburgh venue)

Superb surreal character comedy with a pin-sharp absurd vocabulary and a fluid sense of the physical from the deathless art weirdo. Unique and special. (Stewart Lee)

Brochure copy from Edfringe Website=

One-time Riot grrrl, witch, illustrator Joanna and her volatile alter egos explore life and love. Punchlines include fry-up, arsehole and Xmal Deutschland. ‘One of the most naturally funny stand-ups around’ (Stage). ‘Inherently funny’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Most striking is the contrast between the big-grinned, scatty sweetness she has when she’s being herself, and the surgical precision with which she skewers her characters’ foibles’ (Independent). Edinburgh Award Newcomer nominee. Best Actress, Brighton Fringe. Best Show nominee at Leicester Comedy Festival. Judith in BBC’s Ideal. Featured in Time Trumpet, Man Down, Wife On Earth Podcast. joneary.com

Audience feedback on Edfringe  August 2022 tickets website=

Richard Hubbard7 days ago

gentle, funny, kind, sensitive and a bit surprising. A class act – great comic

Andy Kemp9 days ago

A clever and different show – some brilliantly acted character comedy which had me in stitches. Well worth seeing!

Samantha Cedermark10 days ago

Loved this show. Joanna’s quirky characters had me in stitches. Literally snorting and crying with laughter. Celia Johnson as her show host character is a stroke of genius. Loved it. Would definitely go and see her again.

David B14 days ago

My family and I came to see the show on 7th August. It was a wonderful experience and one of the best shows we’ve seen in many years of coming to the Fringe. Jo Neary is clearly a very intelligent person with an abundance of talent and a genuine gift for comedy. Her characters were beautifully observed, especially Celia, whose old-fashioned RP accent was an absolute joy as well as the material being superbly written and hilariously funny. Being able to listen to the brilliant ‘Wife On Earth’ podcasts since returning home has been an added bonus so the fun has continued beyond Edinburgh. The lovely, cool artwork is also a treat. Jo has it all!

Sabina14 days ago

A great show and a must see for all Fringe goers.

The show is a fast paced, packed hour which will have you laughing out loud. Joanna has a wide range of great characters that she rolls out effortlessly.

Thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Review from Chortle for Edinburgh Fringe 2022 (3 and a half stars)


Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Character comedian Joanna Neary is an undercover spy behind the net curtain of Middle England. She’s friendly, well-spoken and has a penchant for arts and crafts that opened doors at the Eastbourne Women’s Institute. But once inside, she discovered a judgmental world of vicious back-biting, snobbery and reactionary thought, barely concealed behind passive-aggressive politeness. And now she’s here to report back on those findings.

It’s a world her most enduring alter-ego, the Celia Johnson of Brief Encounter would recognise as she delivers withering but superficially well-mannered commentary via her clipped upper-middle class vowels. The character – portrayed as the sort of woman to have a knitted lady over her toilet rolls – hosts this hour, needlessly presented as a variety show benefit with the level of donations tracked by the whimsical means of a wasp climbing up a cat’s jumper.

In her preamble, Neary explains this is a show about being genuinely happy in her life, married and with a nine-year-old son, but occasionally getting angry at relatively trivial things. These mostly come from her professional frustrations of being forever asked to audition as old Crone as an actress on the ‘wrong’ side of 40.

But actually, its main theme is of marriage and relationships, inspired by her relatively recent wedding and held over from the show that got canned because of Covid.

The husbands do not emerge well from her bitter-sweet sketches, being portrayed as dullards, slowly crushing their wives’ spirits. Though at least that’s more benign than the alpha male comic she describes, hoovering away her self-confidence in the green room before a gig.

Neary’s embodiment of her characters is impeccable, conjuring up believable, rounded people in a heartbeat. Many are based on family and acquaintances, such as her Welsh grandmother (the sort of woman who dreams of collecting crystal animals), her friend from childhood back in Cornwall – and an artsy woman she spotted working in a gallery gift shop.

In all of them, her attention to detail in both performance and writing is forensic, with the smallest reference immediately saying so much about their character. There’s a touch of the Victoria Wood about her in that respect.

When Celia Johnson returns for her own skit, she gets flustered flirting with a double glazing salesman with a familiar name, while her husband Fred is taught the the pitfalls of polygamy via the medium of puppet show.

Other creations swap realism for just being daft. There’s Baby Bjork, as insane and surreal as the real thing; a brilliantly accurate parody of XTC frontman Andy Partridge; her take on Kate Bush, newly relevant again, singing about what Michael McIntyre would call the man drawer; and her very committed interpretive dance to a monotone rendition on Close To You that would do John Shuttleworth proud. That singer returns later for an hilariously deadpan version of Ring My Bell.

Some of Neary’s chat between the sketches can be aimless, but it does show a little of the real her, kind, curious and maybe a little scatty.

The other reason she bears comparison with Victoria Wood is the fact she fundamentally likes most of her creations, whatever their foibles. That lends a warmth and affection to the gentle mockery, even if Neary is making pointed comments about the likes of misogyny along the way.  (Steve Bennett)