Here are some of the press articles over the years, to give you an idea of what the critics thought. Some write ups were very useful in deciding how to describe Jo for future publicity. The critics sometimes described Jo’s shows less critically than Jo would have done, which was cheering.
Thanks heavens for Joanna Neary whose skewed clowning is gloriously different. Frizzy haired and porcelain cheeked, her forte is superbly off-kilter sketches. One moment she is a sublimely funny Bjork, the next she is a netured cat sporting a boater and a stoic grin. An immaculate Brief Encounters parody encapsulates a lost age of repressed passion, snobbery and lumpy marmalade. Two skits shunt her onto the must-see list. The Billie Holiday-ish dissection of sexual metaphors in jazz is breathtakingly convincing, while her showstopper is the Pan’s People-esque interpretation of the suicidal lyrics in Harry Nilsson’s Without You.
This snappy series of monologues and songs has a character of its own. And the closing routine, in which Neary dresses in white to give an over literal, Pan’s People-style interpretation of Harry Nilsson’s Without You, may just be the funniest thing in Edinburgh.
Joanna Neary also has a huge amount of quirk-appeal. She’s been likened to Joyce Grenfell, and again, as with Long, there’s a goodness and a goofiness about this elfin entertainer that’s utterly enchanting. Her idea of crossing Celia Johnson’s character from Brief Encounter with a contemporary (trapped) housewife – relaying her diary’s 1940s-styled entries to us throughout the show – is so inspired, and beautifully executed, it deserves its own Radio 4 series.
A potential winner of this year’s Just Give Her a TV Series and Have Done With It Award, Joanna Neary skips through a whole village of original characters, as well as demonstrating her interpretive dancing, belting out songs, reading out extracts from her teenage diary, and doing impressions (including a dated but wonderful one of Björk pondering the housing market). If someone did give her a TV series, they wouldn’t need to hire any other performers. What’s 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 when she’s acting. Imagine French and Saunders, but better.
A performer who is one of the most naturally funny stand-ups around.
For character comedy that is glorious fun with no underlying point whatsoever, Joanna Neary’s Little Moments would be hard to better. Neary is a fiercely gifted actor and her short monologues are peppered with clever songs and silly dances. The real joy here is the character based on Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter, a pitch-perfect impersonation taken to its logical conclusion. This is a show that leaves you with a huge smile and a renewed sense of delight in daftness.
It took less than ten seconds to begin smiling, less than thirty to begin laughing, and within a minute of the show, it was difficult not to fall in love with Joanna Neary – such endearing comedy does not come by often. With astounding ease and amazing grace, the Brighton-based comedienne led a character-based song and dance show that made every single joke and gag work, even when they didn’t, melting the usual tension that Fringe comedy shows can carry with them. Truly a triumph of British humour, this is a show that could be enjoyed by anyone who values candour and a good Bjork impression.
Neary is a character actress par excellence; not only are her characters well observed and immaculately performed, but they are well written and, most importantly, funny.