Q & A: Josie Long

Can you describe your show in three words?
Yes I can!

Reviews of your show claim you have become considerably more political than in the past, why do you think your style has changed in this way?
I think mainly because I wasn’t living under a government that I was ideologically opposed to until now. I definitely had issues with things that New Labour had done (tuition fees, the Iraq war being the obvious ones) but I was just getting on with my nice life I think, but now I can’t help but feel affected and upset by the cuts that the coalition are making every day. Also I made a decision about a year ago to be more strident about the things that I believe in, about feminism particularly, because I was sick of things not changing for the better!

Josie Long is to perform at the Lincoln Comedy Festival in October. Photo: Idil Sukan

What or who is your biggest inspiration for material?
I try and vampirise my whole life – anything at any time will be stolen and exaggerated upon! At the moment I’d say my biggest inspiration is the Tories in government. Their behaviour is making me fume!

What is your greatest achievement or proudest moment in comedy?
I’m always really amazed when people come back to see my shows on tour. This year some people came to my Edinburgh show who had seen me there five years ago, I was really chuffed. I love comedy because good gigs come out of the blue and you can leave the stage feeling like you’re a bloody magic prophet when actually you’re a chubby twat from Kent.

Who are your comedy heroes and who do you think is the brightest up and coming comedian you’ve seen?
I really love Dave Chapelle, his routine about being 15 is possibly the best bit of stand up ever written. I also really look up to English heroes like Simon Munnery and Tony Law who do incredibly clever and unusual stand up in their own voices.
There are so many exciting new comics around. My favourites are James Acaster, Hatty Ashdown, Sara Pascoe and John Luke Roberts, but I really think it’s a brilliant time for new comedy at the moment.

Is doing stand-up an enjoyable experience or full of anxieties and pressure?
It’s both, depending on what my last gig’s been like!

You took a break from comedy to complete your degree, how easy was it to go back to comedy and were there temptations to follow a different route?
I only wanted to do stand up, so on leaving university I moved to London, temped my arse off and tried to gig every night. After about three years I stopped temping and that was the greatest feeling in the world. It’s weird, I’ve been doing stand up so long I’ve never really thought about doing anything else until recently, where I’ve started panicking that I should be doing something more useful to society.

Do you think there are any boundaries or lines that shouldn’t be crossed in comedy?
I think you should be willing and able to back up everything you say and accept the consequences too. I also think you can get away with a lot if you are really, really funny.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I was reading an interview, I can’t even remember with whom but it was with an artist and they asked if he had any advice for young artists and it was “just get on with it”! I like that and the little mantra “just be kind”.

What’s up next for Josie Long?
I’m writing a book that’s going to be an imaginative guide to England. I am very excited!

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