Josie Long recently had York in fits of laughter as part of her eighth solo stand-up tour, Something Better.
Review by George Alexander Moss
Photography by Idil Sukan @ Draw HQ
The Crescent Community Venue in York was jam packed with a tipsy audience, poised for a giggle from the outset. Sat squeezed together in intimately arranged rows, pre-show antics included Long dancing goofily whilst mockingly reminding us that we paid for it, as well as treating us to a rib tickling analysis/karaoke of Rupert Holmes’ Escape (The Piña Colada Song). Though Long herself repeatedly insisted these displays were not part of the main show, excitement was now at fever pitch to see how she could possibly deliver something better.
Following on from a strong supporting act by Blackburn born comedian Tez Ilyas, Long took to the stage herself. Howling out her own stage announcement at the back of the room, it was amusing witnessing Long hopping up and down for attention whilst briefly unsupported by a mic. There was a DIY sense at the gig, with Josie having brought along her own decorative banners telling people to ‘’come at me’’ in matters of Adele’s relevance on society. Eventually it was time for ‘‘the bloody show proper’’, filled to the brim with self-deprecating potshots about fitness and politics. Given Long’s satirical commentary on Brexit, one must ask if some jokes were more regionally attuned than others due to the geographical voting statistics. This bout of wondering was soon put to rest by a series of rib-tickling reveals about how various jokes were received in other parts of the United Kingdom. From rip-roaring screaming sessions to awkward encounters on public transport, Long masterfully captured what it means to be a British person with an opinion.
The hope of standing up and passing unnoticed to the toilet or popping to the bar was simply futile in the small confines of the venue. Each time an audience member stood, Long would stand and stare silently, gawping at them as they went scrambling about. Any efforts to disguise a funky laugh or whisper to a neighbour were flouted, and Long would shine a big bright light on such antics for all to see. From moment to moment, you could become part of the material just as easy as you were laughing with it. This is all a huge credit to the talent of the comedienne, with her material evolving organically night to night, leaving the impression that what was witnessed was a special, one-time only gig.
Long readily admits feeling anger to Brexit, Trump, and to other political atrocities, but it is the complicated role of the comedian to turn that anger into something laughable. Retrospectively, Long balanced on a very thin wire, but she made it to the other side cleanly even in spite of her own mistakes. She admitted to having wrongfully stereotyped others, and how supposedly encountering a witch with a rabbits foot made her selfishly wish for Cameron’s shameful resignation and a female prime minister. There are not only laughs to be offered here, but lessons imbedded within them for both sides of the Brexit divide.
Long rounded out the night by finishing exactly the way she started: with karaoke. As everyone cheerfully glided out to her rendition of Take That’s Never Forget, the chorus reaffirmed the importance of the mirthful message to always be striving for something better.