Josie Long. All pics by Giles Smith

“When I write I put everything into it, and it becomes very intense, quite obsessional. It’s a very personal project.”

We are talking to three-time Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Josie Long, about her brand new show Tender, coming to Oxford’s Old Fire Station this week, which looks at the mind-bending intensity of new motherhood, kindness, gentleness and joy.

A cult-optimist herself, and mum to an 18-month-old daughter, Josie wants her audiences to feel optimistic about the future, although in this current day and age, that’s a big ask.

She feels that society’s biggest issues from climate change to Boris Johnson, cannot be ignored, but Tender’s main focus is about bringing new life into this ever-changing world.   

Having started performing comedy at just 14, Josie went on to win the BBC New Comedy Award, Chortle Best Newcomer, Best Newcomer at the 2006 Edinburgh Comedy Awards and then was nominated for Best Show at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards three years running. She has since sold out West End runs, performed at the most prestigious comedy festivals in the world, written five solo tours and sold out shows in LA and New York. 

Josie Long

Josie said: “The show really is about how you can bring new life into the world when everyone around you is telling you about the intensity of pregnancy and birth. It is about motherhood which I have now been through and I have been working on the show since last March.

On screen, Josie has been seen on 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4), Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2), You Have Been Watching (Channel 4) and Skins (Channel 4), for which she also wrote.

She has presented on BBC 6Music, was nominated for a Radio Academy Award for her adventurous short documentaries Short Cuts on Radio 4 and earned a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award nomination for her two short feature films, Let’s Go Swimming and Romance and Adventure, and her recent feature film Super November was nominated for a BIFA Discovery Award.

Super November features an overly romantic librarian who believes she’s found the one after just three dates.

“We made Super November without any budget and we are trying to get funding to do more stuff like this. I love making films and love collaborating because it is a really fun experience.”

So how does she juggle so many genres? “Stand up is great – it’s just me writing and doing, and that’s what I do, but comedy as an art form is very broad.

“Some people just want to hear jokes, but I like to go further with audiences and to feel like they are my friend, especially when I am being really honest, because people really appreciate that.”

Josie Long

As if that wasn’t enough, in 2011, Josie started an ongoing project called the Alternative Reality Tour; an anti-cuts, pro-youth, non-profit performance in a bid to fight for social justice and support public art. She is also co-founder of the Arts Emergency Service, a charity which aims to support students from underprivileged backgrounds who wish to study arts degrees. 

So it’s amazing she has found the time to tour, produce and write her new show Tender, especially with a new baby to look after. But in a way that’s the point: “I am sure there will be some new mums in the audience,” says Josie.

“The show will be really appealing to them and it is great because I will genuinely feel a connection with people and hope they will connect with me in the same way. The show was written at a very specific time in my life and I want to be able to keep that level of energy.”

See Josie Long at The Old Fire Station, Oxford on Thursday January 30 and Friday January 31. https://oldfirestation.org.uk/whats-on/josie-long-tender/

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