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Josie Long: Be Honourable!

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

After a year away from Edinburgh, festival favourite Josie Long has subtly reinvented herself. No longer just the queen of whimsy, she’s added some attitude, a message and even a character piece.

She’s also added to the traditional hour-long running time of the fringe: advertised at 70 minutes and actually coming in at 80. However, it’s hard to see why – within the extended show there’s a much sharper 60-minute one trying to get out. Because of this verbosity, it’s easy to believe her when she says she wrote a 4,000-word email to an American man, simply because she was enchanted by the photographs he posted on Flickr chronicling what he ate for breakfast every day.

Long dedicates plenty of time to this fixation, repetitively showing us screen after screen of Walter Ezell’s eggs, pancakes and pastries long after we’ve got the point of her obsession, even though she never quite convinces us to share it. Another slight routine attempts to attribute the change in her attitude from the naively optimistic to something more realistic to the fact that she lost weight, an argument that’s absolutely as tenuous as it sounds.

Yet the new maturity does add an extra dimension to her comedy, as she rattles the liberal complacency of which she was herself guilty. Good intentions alone are not enough, she realises, and that living an honourable life is more than going to an organic café.

This new attitude sees her taking on politics for the first time – not in all that much depth, but a start – while she also gets more incisive in her introspection, examining her own intentions and feeling that she’s missing a proper grown-up mentor to guide her.

This is an interesting new direction for Long, a step towards the mainstream with more identifiable routines – such as her encounter with a fantasist paparazzo – and more actual jokes than her previous force-of-niceness shows have displayed. The character which opens the show, an unlikely and abrupt working-class astronaut who can always fall back on her job as a nail technician should the space thing not work out, is also a successful departure.

There is, however, the feeling that this is a bridging show, a statement of intent rather than a confident assertion of her new approach to comedy. But it’s certainly revived interest in Long – as her Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination confirms – as someone with more to offer than an unaffected good nature.

Review date: 30 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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