INTERVIEW: JOSIE LONG | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Josie Long is known for her occasionally surreal, topical and often political brand of comedy (her periodic tours alongside protest folk songwriter Grace Petrie are tellingly titled Lefty Scum), so it may appear something of a departure for her new stand-up show to be quite so…well…normal.

Tender, which Josie brings to The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 17th February, focuses on the intensity of becoming a new parent as well as the ideas of kindness, gentleness and joy – all tenets hard to live by in these troubled political and ecological times.It’s a big challenge, intense even, especially as we are constantly being told it’s the end of the world. Having a baby makes you feel more optimistic, you start to look forward, and I am a natural optimist anyway, so I just woke up thinking Okay, let’s give it a go.’ Even if you’re freaked out, try to do whatever you can.”

It’s been five years since Josie last toured and it’s clear that motherhood has influenced more than just her comedy. I’m definitely channelling the vibe of sleep deprivation,” she laughs. Its liberating, if I didn’t care what people thought before, I definitely don’t now. I’m more confident, probably because I’m so fucking tired. It was quite frightening coming back to comedy after my maternity leave as it moves so quickly, but it’s like I’ve never been away. It feels good.

It wouldn’t be a Josie Long show without a healthy dose of social justice though, and she explains that she hopes the new show will “inspire others to think about the future”. Her own work in supporting those from underprivileged backgrounds gain an education in the arts continues in the form of The Arts Emergency Service, a charity she co-founded in 2011. “It took three years and a lot of desperate energy to establish but we’ve gone from a couple of hundred to thousands of mentors and students within the network. I’m still a member of the board but now we have around ten passionate and dedicated full time members of staff who run the service day to day. It has been really effective, we have students who have just recently graduated from Cambridge and others who are now working in London as producers.

Josie feels that the charity is as relevant and necessary today as it was when it was when it was first founded eight years ago. It’s more important now. In 2010 we were reacting to the trebling of tuition fees as well as a cut to arts funding, now we have suffered almost ten years of additional Tory cuts, it’s more important now than ever to act.”

And, if that positive action comes with a side order of joy, kindness and optimism, all the better.

Josie Long is at The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 17th February

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