Glasgow Comedy Festival - Josie Long

ONE OF A KIND

Siân Bevan talks to Josie Long about her ridiculously sunny approach to life and laughs.

Whatever happened to good clean family entertainment? The oldies are right when they complain that comedy just isn’t nice anymore. That Jimmy Carr off the telly’s always bitching, and the mouth on some of the young ‘uns is frankly disgusting. You wouldn’t catch Morecambe and Wise doing sick baby jokes, that’s for sure. Well, fear not bitchophobes, Miss Josie Long is here to cheer up your day. With her joyfully titled show Kindness and Exuberance, she brings you the nicest bits of her frighteningly cheerful personality.

‘I want it to be the best parts of who I am,’ she explains, when discussing her novel approach to comedy. ‘It’s about me trying to be a better person.’ Noble thoughts indeed, especially when that ethos wins you awards, like the If.comeddie Best Newcomer award, which Long scooped at last year’s Fringe. When asked about it, she is typically bashful: ‘It was a real surprise, I didn’t even think I’d get nominated. When I think about the other people who’ve won it, like Wil Hodgson and Gary Le Strange, really unique acts, it’s really exciting.’

The title boosted her profile and secured Long an invitation to appear at the Melbourne comedy festival this April, all expenses paid. She adds, ‘Awards aren’t necessarily important but it’s still brilliant.’ ‘Brilliant’ is a word she uses a lot, and it’s strangely apt; the comedian’s manner is shiny, bright and new.

She certainly stands out on the circuit, drawing attention from stalwarts such as Stewart Lee, whom she supported on tour. At her 2006 Fringe show, the audience were presented with badges and asked about their favourite things. Long then ran through a series of subjects she finds heartening, with a genuine message of loving thy neighbour.

While, inevitably, there are those who find her ramblings less than endearing, her tour has provoked a generally positive response from audience and critics alike. Maybe, just maybe, we need some light relief from the dark cynicism associated with humour and a wee nudge in the direction of everyday happiness. Or maybe we just want our laughter to be a bit easier to digest.

So what does the future hold for a youngling so earnest in her ambitions? ‘I’m not in a great rush to be on television. I did one panel show when I needed the money and I do regret doing it.’ So, instead, she is heading off to the Melbourne festival, a mecca for comedians the world-over, then she plans to concentrate on writing her show for this year’s Fringe, which she jokingly says she might call Bitches and Guns. ‘That way I’d really confuse everyone, if I went from being nice to coming up with this really offensive show.’ The thought of Josie turning nasty is unimaginable.

Long can’t imagine life without stand-up: ‘I genuinely want to be a comic, it’s the thing that makes me happiest.’ After spreading so much joy around to others, it’s nice that Josie is getting some herself.

Kindness and Exuberance, Brel, Mon 12 Mar, 9pm.

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