Josie Long: Trying Is Good

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Anyone unfamiliar with Josie Long until she won the first if.comedy best newcomer award last year will most likely spend the first third of her follow-up show wondering what on earth all the fuss was about.

She spends a good while meandering around the houses, and generally finding that Mr Comedy isn’t at home. She tries to explain she isn’t sure of her own indie girl self after discovering unlikely penchant for the gym and chart r ‘n’ b music; digresses about the computer game Battleships and imagines a back story for the strange bearded man she’s spotted in Edinburgh.

It’s all rather random, with little cohesion between the strands. Possibly it’s a consequence of her uncertainty about her own personality that the show initially seems rudderless, but she’s good-natured and enthusiastic, so we patiently humour her. Each disjointed segment usually has a decent joke at its centre, but they all tend to tail away to babbling nothings.

Gradually, though, she finds some sort of focus as her core theme comes to the fore. Long gets excited by people who are prepared to put the effort in, even if there is little reward – constructing elaborate fancy-dress for a party, for example – and wants to share that joy.

Once she gets enthused, the feelgood factor kicks in and she hits her warm, inspirational stride. She finds glee in the simplest things, but always very human ones, and stirs the audience to do the same.

A good chunk of her show is dedicated to one, almost mundane, experience, when she found a wheat-free bread she adored and decided to make a pilgrimage to the bakery where it was made, on an anonymous industrial estate, so she could meet the man behind it.

It’s a bit long-winded for what it is, as Long herself admits, but her dedication and zeal eventually proves infectious, and the bold decision to stick with the tale pays off. It does, after all, emphasise the ethos underpinning all her comedy; that you should always follow a passion, however quirky.

As always, she’s utterly genuine and thoroughly committed to celebrating human endeavour, even the apparently pointless ones, and this idealism and sincerity is where her charm lies. The show may have got off to a ragged start, but you can’t take that away from her.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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