Josie Long: Something Better
By Caro Moses | Published on Thursday 16 March 2017
Here at TW HQ, we’ve loved Josie Long for a long long time; pretty much since our eyes very first met across a crowded Edinburgh Festival many moons ago. That high regard has never wavered as we’ve watched her go from strength to strength.
This week, she finishes her UK tour of latest show, ‘Something Better’, with a date at London’s Duchess Theatre. I organised a quick chat, to find out more about the show, and to throw a few other questions her way.
CM: What’s ‘Something Better’ about? What themes run through the show and what sort of topics do you cover?
JL: It’s about trying to get back to feeling hopeful about the world and about politics despite, well, 2016 happening. It’s silly and friendly and it’s trying to be a show about reconciliation after the horrible divisiveness of Brexit. There’s also a good bit about necklaces, a bit where I pretend to be a witch from the 17th century and a bit about a bird, so I feel like there’s something for everyone except Nigel Farage.
CM: Has it changed at all since you first performed it?
JL: Yes, it’s really developed. I love touring a show because new jokes jump out at you and the show gets more and more refined. Also as my feelings change and time passes, the narrative changes a bit too.
CM: You’ve been bringing politics into your shows for a long time now, and presumably will continue to do so. Do you think it’s possible to effect change through art and entertainment?
JL: I do, I really do – I think everything that you do adds to the richness of culture and any politically strident art will have unexpected good effects. I think people like to know they aren’t alone in finding things overwhelming and difficult sometimes.
That having been said, I don’t think I have lots of power- I wish my shows could stop the Conservative party ever being elected, or could have stopped Brexit, for example! But I do think that they can inform people, and inspire people to keep going with the actually useful things they do with their lives. I also think comedy lulls people into a false sense of security and can change minds.
CM: Could you see yourself ever actually going into actual politics? Become an MP?
JL: Oh heavens no. I’m not a good enough grown up for that. Plus I’m a wimp- the amount of abuse that women in politics receive on a daily basis is so disgusting I’m proud of the strong women who do it!
CM: Do you ever get fed up with political subjects? Does the current political situation at home and abroad make you despair, or get angry?
JL: Yes, I often get fed up. My last show was about love, not politics, and it was a real relief not to talk about it for a while, but I tend to just feel compelled to talk about whatever is preoccupying me and you can’t get away from ghastly politics at the moment. My show is about wrestling with feelings of anger and despair. I often feel both but I never lose hope and I am proud that my politics imagines a better, more compassionate world.
CM: You’ve been doing quite a lot of TV and Radio stuff lately, haven’t you? How does it compare to live performance?
JL: It’s very intimate and I love that- it’s like you speak directly to each listener, especially if they are listening in headphones. It’s also nice to focus on writing that is lyrical and meditative as opposed to just most economical for a comedy show.
CM: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
JL: Oh heaven knows. I’d like to act more in films, make a few decent things in different mediums, and to be more settled. I hope I can have kids, and get a dog. I hope that we still have a peaceful country and that politics has shifted away from its current state.
CM: What’s coming up next for you?
JL: I’m focusing on writing for the second half of this year- stories, a sitcom and a feature film. I’m excited to be in one place and coming up with new things!
Josie performs ‘Something Better’ at The Duchess Theatre on 20 Mar. See this link here for info and to book.
Photo: Giles Smith