Interview: Josie Long

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Credit: Phil Chambers

Josie Long’s stand-up comedy performance ‘Something Better’ comes to The Dukes theatre in Lancaster this Tuesday, the 14th of March. SCAN spoke to Josie ahead of her show.

Your new show is quite political. What do you think the role of comedy in politics is?

I change my mind about this quite often – I think comedy can really sway culture and be a big part in challenging things and help to change people’s minds about political views. When you’re laughing you’re really open and engaging with what is being said. I also sometimes think we need to reflect what’s going on. Sometimes the only thing I’m certain comedy can do is really give consolation to people. Give strength and solace to people – I like to think my shows can help to inspire people to take action.

How does social media impact the way you interact with people who see your shows?

Social media is sometimes the most wonderful and exciting thing, people follow me on twitter and come to gigs and things, but sometimes it’s the worst. Recently the amount of things like Twitter that used to be fun and a community, are now spaces where you’re negotiating having Nazis not attack you. I do find strength from people on social media, I do feel like politically I get a lot of energy from people, and I learn a lot through people’s perspectives and experiences. I thought I knew about these beforehand but social media has really allowed me to see it in more detailed ways.

How does being a woman shape your comedy? In regards to the previous question about social media, women online and in public spaces often face a lot of backlash. How does that impact you personally and in your politics and comedy?

The abuse is bullshit, it’s completely unacceptable. Early on I didn’t really realize it was wrong – people always said to rise above it. The problem with that outlook is it’s still frightening, and it makes you paranoid on stage. Trump’s election really showed that you should take it more seriously, the culture of abusing women, and people of colour, abusing people online – people who have a voice that is unconventional in any way, is really bad. This has affected my comedy because it affects life. Sexism in comedy is really just like the rest of life, I don’t know why people are shocked. I’ve seen women who really deserve opportunities not get that. I don’t think it’s really affected me and the choices I’ve made as much, I’ve always loved DIY culture and doing things myself. I do wish I’d known better when I was younger, and I wish there was more support.

You’re consistently described as optimistic in interviews, do you see yourself that way?

Optimistic? I think I really am. I can’t help it, it’s like I reset every day. I am more embattled than I used to be, I can’t believe the state of British politics. But I don’t want to be cynical, I try to be positive. I like humanity, I like my life a lot. It seems really obvious, but I think it’s important.

Josie Long: Something Better is at 8pm on Tuesday week 19 (14th March) at the Dukes.