Venue: The Duchess, York
Returning to the stage with her new show, Cara Josephine, named after her baby niece, Josie Long promises a set that discusses the pain of heartbreak, family, and her ‘type’ of man. When mixed in with tales of missing a flight because you’re at the wrong airport and then buying yourself a McDonald’s as punishment, the show does not disappoint.
The first part of the show was hosted by Grace Petrie, a folk singer who describes herself as a ‘protest’ artist, and whose songs certainly lived up to that. Long introduced Petrie by insisting that the audience welcomed her on stage to our best Viking roars, a particularly pertinent way to get the audience of York in the mood for a good show. Petrie added an unexpected but welcome addition to Long’s set. After warning the audience that she is not a comedian, she went on to contradict this, with every song eliciting a chuckle from the audience.
Petrie’s stand out song was her first, ‘I Do Not Have the Power to Cause a Flood’, and it was a shame that she does not end with it. Unashamedly political, the song parodies UKIP councillor David Silvester’s claims that the floods of early 2014 were caused by the passing of gay marriage legislation. She is an excellent start to a show that continues with personal anecdotes mixed in with scathing political commentary that alternate seamlessly.
True to her promise, Long covered love and heartbreak, incorporated into stories of airport kerfuffles, aging and her desire to become a Quaker. Her stories of failed relationships and the embarrassing tales that come with them had the audience inwardly cringing, but laughing all the same again within the next minute. Long’s ability to work on her feet, and incorporate audience reaction and the spontaneous occurrences of a live show (we are treated to Long’s first on-stage coughing fit in her 15 year career), meant that she was a joy to watch, consistently working to create a relaxed but unfailingly funny atmosphere. She was her usual bubbly self, with an infectious smile, meaning it was difficult not to desperately root for her to come out on top in the end.
The set hosts a confident 45 minutes of content, with the energy on stage being consistently high, and Long’s comedy remained witty and clever throughout. However, the last 15 minutes waned, as Long discussed her adoration for her niece and her promising new relationship. Whilst it is nice to hear of her current successes in life, this part of the show sadly did not live up to the preceding 45 minutes.
Long ended her set by advising the audience to ‘try not to die’, because then good things will happen to you that you weren’t expecting. Her ending note was particularly pertinent for a show that wavered between cheerful optimism and embarrassing anecdotes of failure. Whilst certain parts of the show may have felt tired, it is impossible to leave without a grin on your face, a by-product of Long’s unrelentingly sunny disposition.