I never sit in the front row for anything ever, particularly comedy shows, because I tremble at the thought of being singled out and/or humiliated. Yet when Alice and I walked into the Basement for Josie Long's show, Romance & Adventure, we found ourselves sitting at the very front. Why? Because Josie asked us to. She was having a little dance party on her own as we walked in, feeding songs from her ipod through the mic, and she promised us as we entered that she wouldn't scare or harrass us at all. I trusted her.
I laughed for an hour after that. Ceaseless, abdominal-trembling laughter. Towards the end I almost wanted it to be over, if only to give me a break.
Josie Long has an honest, socially aware, reflective sense of humour. She effortlessly adopts a multitude of different characters. She laughs with you at herself, at you, at the world. By the end of it I just felt happy and light, and as if I'd made an awesome new friend.
Romance and Adventure is a show about growing older, losing things and people. It's about changing your plans and changing your mind. It's about the way Josie sees herself and the way she actually is. Not once does it feel ranty though, or self-indulgent, she's just too clever for that. Sometimes she makes obscure references that only the English people in the room understand, but she does it so knowingly that I didn't feel left out of a thing, even for a minute.
Even when she's laughing with just one other person in the room, about something you have never seen or don't even understand, you'll still feel included in her big, happy, bubble of hilarity. Even when she's angrily kicking props across the stage, she still seems to possess this infectious joyousness.
What I mean is, Josie Long is really freaking funny, but even better, she's also inspiring and lovely. The first thing I wanted to do upon leaving was tell other people to go and see her before she leaves. So here I am. Now, GO!
It’s hard not to fall for Josie Long the minute you walk into the Supper Room at Town Hall. As the audience filed in, Long was already on-stage, establishing the “party vibe” for the evening. Alternating between dancing and chatting to the growing crowd, it was clear that she had won over her audience even before the show had even begun.
‘Romance and Adventure’ is the complete package – you get pre-show entertainment, post-show entertainment and an hour of hilarity in between. ‘The show contains both romance and adventure, though perhaps not in the forms you would expect. Long discusses recent upheaval in her life as she approached her 30th birthday. Leaving her long-term relationship and feeling out of place in the posh end of town, Long turned to lists and social justice to try and re-establish order.
Long is wonderfully charismatic and very relatable. While she may be getting older and discussing more serious subject matter, she has not lost her youthful cheekiness. Her material is quick and clever, her delivery earnest and immensely likeable – as though you are having a one-way conversation with an overexcited friend.
Long’s newfound enthusiasm for (and then weariness of) social justice makes for great material. She perfectly expresses the frustrations of living under an ideology you disagree with and the feeling of powerlessness that comes with it. Her impression of the UK’s conservative government is made all the funnier by the presence of her real passion behind the joke. Social justice could be a tough topic for comedy, but Long strikes a good balance. Though the show is deeply political in parts, you never feel like you are being preached to.
‘Romance and Adventure’ is truly wonderful and well worth checking out. It’s guaranteed to have you walk out still chuckling.
On the way in to last night’s show at the Basement last night, the girl checking our tickets at the door said: “Enjoy the show. Good choice.” It was such a strange, unexpected comment from a ticket person that it took me a few seconds to figure out what choice she was talking about.
Among a certain demographic, into which the ticket girl clearly fell, Josie Long inspires a more or less unrivalled fervour. I had seen more tweets suggesting I see her show than the shows of all other comedians at the festival combined. Many of those tweets were from other comedians and many were in strong language.
I can tell you now that the reason for that fervour is partly because of Josie Long’s material but mostly because she is the world’s most likeable comedian. Maybe you read that and go, “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen some likeable comedians. I know what he’s talking about there.” But no, you don’t.
She calls the show Romance and Adventure, but early on she tells the audience it is actually about despair. And although we all laugh because that is clearly a joke, it sort of isn’t. The bulk of the show is about her passion for social justice and how painful that makes her life because she feels like she is continually on the losing side.
She talks at length about how the Tories are ruining the United Kingdom, where she is from, and she gets really angry with capitalism in general and the wealthy in particular, including a great bit where she rips into Richard Branson and spoils the end of a Kurt Vonnegut novel.
Anger and despair are not the twin pillars of either comedy or likeability. None of what I have described about her show sounds like it should be either funny or enjoyable; it sounds uncomfortable. And yet, it’s not.
You will laugh a lot at Josie Long’s show, but you will probably never choke on your laughter like you might do at the best stand-up. But there’s the point: this isn’t really stand-up – at least not in any conventional sense. It’s like being at the home of a really good friend, with tea and biscuits and a sense that, although the world is fucked up, and we don’t even really know if that’s fixable, at least we’ve got friends like this in it.
For her first time back in Melbourne since 2010, UK comic Josie Long of Orphington, Kent delivers an exuberant show that is perhaps just a little bit inspiring. Long’s off-the-cuff introduction to the show has the audience laughing early and loudly. It’s hard to know how she will keep up her madcap energy. But once she mentions her “loooooove” for social justice the show takes a turn. With a serious message to pass on Long does well to preach her disdain for inequality without letting the comedy fade away -- hitting the crowd relentlessly with hilarious asides. Well aware of the hypocrisy of her life as a comedian, Long riffs on her own natural talents in aristocratic pursuits, Richard Branson and of course the Tories. The final section has Long contemplating her life at 30, and when the show closes many are appreciating the lighting-quick mind of Josie Long.
Long has done some growing up in the years since Melbourne audiences last saw her. On a previous visit she spent a whole day chasing down a man whose face appeared on packets of gluten-free bread. This time her cute, shambolic and slightly absurdist style is in full swing with a show that reflects on what happens when a complacent person suddenly finds themselves in the middle of huge political changes, austerity, and a recession.
Long works with seriously smart people in the UK (she has appeared on Charlie Brooker’s television shows and supported Stewart Lee on tour) and has become a terrifyingly clever comedian herself. While this show appears to be a ramble, it is carefully crafted to make us think.
The relative good life Australia enjoys, compared to the UK and Europe, means some local audiences might find her activism at times unnecessary and unseemly. But it is worth getting in now: a few more public appearances in the UK and Long will be able to charge a lot more for tickets.
The Basement on Wednesday night played host to English comedian Josie Long and her show “Romance and Adventure”. On the second night of her week long run Long treated the audience to a thoroughly witty, sometimes surreal and enduringly funny set.
The intimate nature of The Basement venue ensured that the audience was given the rather quirky opportunity of casually interacting with Long as she busied herself with pre-show banter.
Anecdotes about climbing Mount Kenya for charity and the endless challenges of trying to befriend two lesbians who frequently dressed as sailors were interspersed through the underlying theme of the set, “social justice”.
It’s a topic that Long feels strongly about. Whilst there is an element of real concern and disgust in her voice, as she reproaches the British government, she’s never far away from the punch line. A perfect example was comparing the Tories in England to The Spice Girls, and her unheeded foreboding toward both.
Those present will attest to a show that left the audience in a constant stream of giggles and howls.
She’s a comedian that freely admits to being “a bit awkward and weird”, but that’s exactly why she was so enjoyable. Long reminds you of that really good-humoured mate that you have that you wish would write down all their funny thoughts and experiences, and then re-tell them. Thankfully Josie Long has, and we thank her for it.
There’s a loving charm about Josie Long’s comedy, and it’s impossible not to enjoy her affable nature, witty retort and self-deprecating approach.