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Funny Politics - An Interview with comedian Josie Long

27 September 2016 | Stephanie Brandhuber

Smiley, happy, and unashamedly optimistic, comedian Josie Long is taking her latest stand-up show ‘Something Better’ to London’s Soho Theatre as of September 30th. Mixing introspection with optimism, and silliness with political discourse, Josie’s passionate, inspiring, and hilarious show is not to be missed. We sit down with this cheerful comedian to talk about comedy, politics, and how to always look on the bright side of life.

London Calling: In the past, a lot of your stand-up has involved politics, family, and relationships. What are the prominent themes in your new show, Something Better?
 
Josie Long: It’s a political show, I guess, but it’s kind of about how I wanted to write something really joyful about politics, and about people that I felt had inspired me, who were cool and fun and doing progressive and political things. And then Brexit happened, and it kind of knocked the stuffing out of me. So it’s kind of about trying to get back to a positive place after Brexit and about trying to embody something a bit less divisive. But it’s also about the fact that I’m 34 and I want to have kids but I don’t have them yet, and how I feel a lot of pressures. But it’s all quite silly.
 
LC: In one of the descriptions of your show, it said that you’re looking at what it means to be an outsider for the first time. What do you mean by that?
 
JL: Well it’s kind of in a lot of senses, because a lot of my friends are having kids and I haven’t done that yet. A lot of my friends are in couples, and I’m not really yet. I’m just feeling a little bit like I’m not quite adhering with the people I went to school with. And then politically, I’m definitely feeling like an outsider. There was this YouGov survey that said only 10% of people in the UK identified as left wing and I was suddenly thinking, gosh I didn’t think I was niche!
 
LC: You’ve been called one of the most optimistic comedians. How do you stay so optimistic when you’re such a politically and socially aware person?
 
JL: I think it’s been a real challenge, this summer in particular. It’s been really hard because I feel like the wind has been knocked out of my sails and that no one feels the way I do about these things. I think whether or not you’re an optimistic or a cynical person is partly down to your temperament. So I feel quite blessed that I can just wake up and think, oh cool, brilliant, let’s give it a go! And on top of that I just have this theory that even if everything is f***ed and terrible, you might as well have an optimistic attitude and try and work with a bit of hope. You’re going to have more fun and more of a laugh if you try and be optimistic about things.
 
LC: You took part in Channel 4’s reality TV show Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls. How was that?
 
JL: It was fun! It was so bizarre. It was unlike anything else I have ever done. It was like a rich, massive experience but it was also f***ing awful. It was an interesting combination. But there are people who I met on the show that I would never have met otherwise and wouldn’t have necessarily made friends with, but I have now, so that’s very exciting.
 
LC: Is there any part of you that ever wishes that you went into politics instead of comedy?
 
JL: No. As a woman, you get so much sh** online, and politics is like that but you get none of the fun! I’d just never be good enough for it. I’m amazed that politicians can deal with the amount of crap they take. I’m no good at that. Also, for me comedy’s my life. I’m never going to not want to do it; I’m never going to not want to be a comedian. I love it with all my heart. It’s always been the way that I try and understand the world and communicate my views; it’s my main creative outlet.
 
LC: What’s your favourite thing about doing comedy?
 
JL: My favourite thing about comedy is the fact that I get to travel with it and that I get to meet people that I really admire. I also genuinely love the fact that you’re part of a good thing for people - that’s really starting to hit home. Like, it must be really, really hard to be a police officer or even to be a doctor, because you’re seeing people at such difficult times in their life. I get to be somebody’s night out.
 
LC: I want to be stand-up comedian now!
 
JL: Well, we’re recruiting.
 
LC: Good, well I’ll keep in touch about that. Any final thoughts you’d like to add about your new show?
 
JL: I guess, just that it is a political show but I like to think that it’s quite fun, and I’m trying to make it as inclusive as possible. I’m really looking forward to doing it and I hope people will come!
 
Josie Long: Something Better will run at Soho Theatre from September 30th – October 15th. Tickets start from £9 and can be booked online.
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