Josie Long: Kindness and Exuberance

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

I'd like to pay Josie Long the best compliment she could get. Her fringe debut is utterly amateurish.

Long, you see, celebrates a DIY mentality when it comes to her comedy. She doles out home-made badges and handwritten programmes, draws cartoons despite only rudimentary artistic talent, and attempts a song on a ukulele she can barely play. But this is a good thing.

She finds amateurism a more immediate, personal and honest form of communication , dictated by what you feel you want to do, rather than being constrained by other people's expectations or demands. With her self-inflicted pudding-basin haircut, ill-fitting charity shop clothes and an unfortunate propensity for being mistaken for someone with learning difficulties, you might think it unlikely ­ but she's the very embodiment of the punk spirit.

So yes, the production values are shambolic, and she's by no means a slick performer ­ but this show has what most others lack, real heart.

Charm is something most comedians work hard at projecting, with Long it's natural. Her Tiggerish, optimistic enthusiasm for all things wonderful in the world is irresistible. And that passion is for the minutiae that makes her happy: seeing two bus drivers chatting from their cabs, a Goth in a suit or 'adorably shit' parochial events.

There's no guile to her at all, just genuine glee. And if you doubt it, you fall into one of the few categories of things she hates: cynics. Why would you want to go through life not having any fun?

This might all sound sweet enough, but Kindness And Exuberance is not all ephemeral whimsy. There are real, actual punchlines, even if they are as seemingly random as 'I hope it gets smashed in Whitstable', and Long excels at creating imaginative character sketches of the people who inhabit her world, real or imagined. Someone should snap her up as a writer, as the dialogue she recreates is utterly genuine ­ hesitant and faltering, rather that having the artificial sheen of professional scripts ­ yet still hilariously sharp.

For all the amateurishness and endearingly fanciful ideas like her imagined supervillain Deceptive Shrimp, this is, above all a very funny show from a strikingly original voice. Lovely stuff.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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