Josie Long becomes a cruise-ship comic

At a 'nerds paradise' Caribbean festival

Josie Long is to become a cruise ship entertainer.

She is the only UK-based performer appearing on a comedy and music festival being held on a Caribbean liner, which she calls ‘a ‘nerds’ paradise’.

The three-day cruise sails from Miami on September 13 and stops at Nassau, the capital city of the Bahamas, and CocoCay, a private Caribbean island.

Also appearing on the first Atlantic Ocean comedy and music festival are Kristin Schaal and Kurt Braunohler, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Eugene Mirman, Hari Kondabolu, John Hodgman and The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal.

Cruise comedy has a reputation for being lucrative but demanding, performed in front of easily offended audiences of older holidaymakers. Speaking on the BBC Two documentary Funny Business about the cruise circuit last week, Jo Caulfield revealed how she would never admit that ‘I’d done a cruise ship. It’s like “oh, you’re that kind of comic”. Which means the worst kind.’

However, the Atlantic Ocean Festival is a more alternative project, programmed by radio and podcast host and producer Jesse Thorn, with the US comedy website Splitsider and internet radio station KCRW.

Thorn’s podcasts include the quiz International Waters, which pits UK comics against their US counterparts. Long performed at the 2011 MaxFunCon in California, a convention Thorn produces, after Thorn appeared on her 2009 Radio 4 show All the Planet’s Wonders as a loudmouth American TV host.

‘It’s definitely not taking the piss out of the idea of a cruise, it’s about enjoying it as much as possible’ Long said. ‘It’s the ultimate cruise! There are no dicks.’

‘I’m coming to it like a punter. I was over the moon to perform at MaxFunCon and would have paid for the privilege. I’m overwhelmed with excitement and won’t even be taking the piss out of myself for doing it. I’ll just be admitting I’m a lucky, lucky girl.’

The festival will be held on the Royal Caribbean ship Majesty of the Sea, which boasts a casino, shops, nine bars, 12 decks, two swimming pools, a spa, rock climbing wall and basketball court. Tickets for the festival range from $690 (about £450) for a shared cabin, to $1580 (£1050) for a private, superior ocean view stateroom.

In Funny Business, veteran comic Tom O’Connor said he derived 40 per cent of his income from cruises and that ‘the secret … is mixing and mingling with people and getting to know all the ins and outs of their journey … it’s important that you know from the off exactly what kind of humour will suit these people.’

Long agrees. MaxFunCon has ‘a [summer] camp atmosphere, there’s no division between the performers and those who’ve paid to come. Everyone eats together, everyone hangs out in the workshops, everyone participates. [Thorn] organises these things because he’s excited about bringing people together, giving them a sense of community and fantastic experiences.’

Long is currently completing post-production on Romance and Adventure, her second short film with director Douglas King. Sharing a title with her 2012 Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated show, the film is a follow-up to the Glasgow-set Let’s Go Swimming. From November, she will be screening the films and performing stand-up in Picture House cinemas across the UK. She and King have also begun work on a feature-length film which they aim to shoot in 2014.

‘We know the idea, we know the crew, we know where we’re going to film it’ she says. ‘We know what our budget is but we don’t have any of it yet. That’s fine though, because that’s very much how we work.’

She is also curating a benefit for The Arts Emergency, her organisation that campaigns against education cuts and helps cash-strapped students, at the Hackney Empire on June 20 with Jimmy Carr headlining.

Meanwhile, another UK act has also landed a prestigious slot at a US festival. Sketch duo Max And Ivan will appear at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas later this month in a combined stand-up and sketch showcase alongside the likes of Reggie Watts and Moshe Kasher.

- By Jay Richardson

Published: 2 Mar 2013

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