An interview with Josie Long

You probably know Josie Long best as the careers advisor from Skins…what you might not know is she’s also been a gigging stand-up since her teens, pausing briefly, as you do, for a degree at Oxford. Her two latest shows were “Kindness and Exuberance” and “Trying is Good”; in them she embraces DIY culture, the joy of learning and how good it is to put in the effort. Catch a preview of her new show, “All the Planet’s Wonders” at Just The Tonic, Nottingham, Sunday 8th Feb.

Josie is always introduced as “positive”, “upbeat” and “in love with life” – as if she is some kind of odd genetic throwback who still takes pleasure in life. But we ask her, is it really that rare?

It’s not that unusual, I think a lot of people just get on with it and enjoy their lives.

There’s a Kurt Vonnegut quote of something his uncle used to do, whenever something really tickled him on quite a small scale, say he was just walking along and he saw the sun going behind some trees and it was really beautiful, or he was eating a really nice cake, he would say ““if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is”” It’s just about appreciating when your life is gong well – the more you enjoy the little things the more fun you’ll have.

The labelling doesn’t stop there…one journalist went as far as to say that “she couldn’t be more indie if Belle and Sebastian had knitted her”…

That’s quite a compliment! It can actually be a problem being put in a box of “upbeat” all the time because people don’t let you be more three dimensional as to who you are, people might expect you always to be positive so you can’t ever get upset or angry about something. I’m quite happy about [being knitted by Belle and Sebastian], I’d rather have that written about me than “she couldn’t be more ugly than if someone had smashed her face with a hammer!”

There’s always going to be people on the net who don’t like your stuff, and make their opinions known…do you ever google yourself?

I did about two and a half years ago and it was really horrible and I just thought I’m not gong to do this ever again, and what I realised is that I’d rather be someone doing what they love than be someone commenting on someone else. I think it’s best not to worry about that kind of thing. I could google myself, or I could hang out with my boyfriend, or go on a bike ride.

Have you been able to meet any of your comedy heroes?

Oh my god do you know Clement Freud is so cool, we were talking about facebook, he’s such a dude, he’s such a dry human being, he’s very very dry. I just met David Cross who’s an American comedian and I was really excited about that, it was really intense…not for him, though, obviously. When you meet comedians, even if you really love with their stuff you just have to kind of chill out about it. You can’t really do gigs with people if you’re too in awe of them, you just have to put that aside and hang out.

Do you think there’s sexism in stand-up comedy?

I think there’s sexism in every industry still, and I think it’s important as a woman to be quite open about being a feminist and wanting that to change, but I think the main way I can help is just by doing my own thing and doing things that I’m interested in as a human being and writing shows for adults that go beyond the gender question, and I think that helps. I think it will change cause I don’t see women who are brought up who are my age and a bit younger accepting it.

What can we expect from the new show?

It’s all about science and nature and facts and the joy of learning facts, and how much I love the enlightenment and how I secretly wish I was a gentleman of the 18th century.

Doesn’t everyone?!

Everyone bloody should I’ll tell you that much for free! People don’t realise how fantastic the whole idea of the enlightenment is, trying to find out as much as you can about the world, to get an empirical handle on the world around you, what legends!

Josie will be playing at Just the Tonic Nottingham @ The Approach, 8th Feb, £8

Esther Croom


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