Josie Long: Trying Is Good (UK)

The Basement Theatre, Auckland

22/04/2008 - 26/04/2008

BATS Theatre, Wellington

30/04/2008 - 03/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

Following another total sell-out at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, If.Comeddies Newcomer 2006 Award winner Josie Long tours her critically acclaimed ‘Trying is Good’ around the UK, then to Adelaide, Melbourne and New Zealand. This is her 2nd tour.

‘Trying Is Good’ is about liking people, looking at strangers and imagining their lives, about trying to give people the benefit of doubt and about respecting people who choose to do ridiculous things. Josie’s quirky personality and sheer enthusiasm for a positive outlook on life shines through in her comedy and she is fast becoming known and loved for her fresh style of optimistic humour and engaging stories.

Josie’s career began with a bang when she won the BBC New Comedy Award, came runner-up for ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ and was a semi finalist in the ‘Daily Telegraph Open Mic’ competition.  

She went on to support comedy veteran Stewart Lee on a nationwide tour and gained his admiration as "the funniest 22 year old woman in the country". Her sell-out 2006 Edinburgh Festival show ‘Kindness & Exuberance’ earned her the prestigious If.Comeddies Award for Best Newcomer and placed Josie firmly on the comedy map.

She has recently been part of Robin Ince’s ‘Book Club Tour’, a guest on ‘Out to Lunch’ (Radio 2), ‘Big Brothers Big Mouth’ (E4) and has performed in ’28 Acts in 28 Minutes’ (Radio 4).  Other TV and Radio credits include ‘The Milk Run’ (BBC Radio One), ‘The Last Chancers’ (C4) and Brain Candy (BBC 3). Josie will also been seen in Channel 4’s esteemed hit-programme Skins, for which she has also been writing. 

"…one of Britain’s bright new hopes of the comedy scene… endearing blend of charm and wry humour… full of joy and wonder" – SUNDAY TIMES, UK 

"…completely brilliant… a skylight in a room you never knew existed" – METRO, UK 

Dates: April 22 – 26th, 8:30pm
Venue: The CLASSIC Basement (formerly Silo Theatre), Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland
Tickets: Adults $22, Concessions and Groups of 6+ $18 (service fees may apply)
Bookings: TICKETEK – 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)

Dates: 30th April – May 3rd, 9:30pm
Venue: BATS, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Tickets: Adults $18, Concessions and Groups of 6+ $15
Bookings: BATS – 04 802 4175 or 

Show Duration: 1 hour 

1 hr

Passing on the inspiration

Review by Thomas LaHood 04th May 2008

Delightfully, disarmingly and charmingly barmy, Josie Long embodies remarkably well the spirit of her show – that effort is sublime, even and perhaps especially when it’s misplaced.  The show is an effervescent seminar on the topic of inspiration, and it’s brimming over.  Long clearly has her own inspiration on tap, as she has enough material to fill several shows packed into her hour at Bats. 

What Long is trying to do is to give us a taste of this inspiration, and to entertain us, and she tries very hard indeed.  As the audience files in she hands them copies of a miniature sixteen-page ‘zine that she has photocopied as a kind of programme-cum-puzzle book.  She types welcoming messages fervently via live feed from her laptop to the screen in the corner, explaining about the show, reassuring us that we’re here to enjoy ourselves.  Once the show gets underway she even turns out to have bought a bag of tangerines to share with us. 

It’s absurdly cheerful, especially for stand-up.  Long is so ebullient that it could almost be too much if her humour wasn’t so rich and inventive, and her enthusiasm so infectious.  Of course, the naïve excitement and positive outlook are not absolutely relentless.  There are occasional ultra-crude swears and moments of sharp invective, but these are all the more welcome for their scarcity.  It’s not surprising that Long has a bit about the Dalai Lama – his quote "Determination with an optimistic attitude is the key to success" forms the bedrock of the show.

So yeah, ‘zines, screens and tangerines.  Long has undeniable indie credibility – and she knows it.  One of my favourite gags of the night lampoons her own status as a hip indie kid, weaving pillowcases out of strips of denim found in a bin outside the op-shop.  She’s into the important stuff like outsider art and Victorian bridge architecture and wheat-free bread, but she’s not too cool to admit that she’s started going to the gym and that she kind of likes chart R&B. 

It’s interesting the difference between Bats and, say, the San Fran Bath House as a comedy venue.  In Bats, instead of towering over the crowd with your microphone you sort of grovel beneath them in the black pit.  It must be hellishly difficult, but Long doesn’t let it get to her.  In a way, it suits her chummy, intimate energy, but not without trying to make the space work to her advantage.  Last year, Andrew McClelland from Australia performed a similarly kooky-but-brainy show in the same venue and struggled to keep the audience involved, but Long has us cackling from start to finish.

It seems that Long has a bright future ahead of her, whether in comedy or stomach-painting.  Her confidence is radiant and driving and she seems to be having a ball of a time travelling around the globe doing what she does best – passing on the inspiration. 


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Entirely original and big hearted

Review by Sian Robertson 24th Apr 2008

Josie Long is like that friend or acquaintance (you know the one I mean) who’s bubbly, irrepressibly positive, passionate and quirky, who everyone likes, but who is best administered in small doses.

Trying Is Good is about putting an effort into what you do, making the best of things and giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Long’s earnest stream-of-consciousness approach is infectious – the opening night audience warmed to her straight away. She is very good at finding peculiar ways of looking at things and her observations and exaggerations of human behaviour are hilarious. The price you pay for such an original style is that it doesn’t always work, and that she’s so involved in telling us about her latest obsession she doesn’t always notice that it’s not working.

Her whole repertoire is entirely original – you won’t hear anyone else’s jokes rehashed and if you’re tired of all the typical jokes about gender conflict, nationality, sex, drunken exploits, etc, don’t worry, you’ll be taken on a journey quite unlike any other. She finds humour in bread bag designs, obscure fancy dress costume ideas, and other odd and extremely pointless things.

Long is a self-confessed fan of amateurism. She loves the unpolished, flawed side of things and finds beauty and humour in pretty much everything. Wryly amused at her own quirks, including frequent commentary on the delivery of her last joke, she celebrates her geekiness and proclaims her mediocrity ("I’ve got a degree and this bag is better at flying kites than I am. A bag!").

I found the childish wonder that gushes out of every inch of her a bit exhausting though – towards the end I wanted it to be her bedtime so I could relax and settle down in peace and quiet to read a book.

One thing you can tell straight away is that she’s enjoying herself immensely ("If anything, I’m currently enjoying myself too much"). That she knows she’s a tad fruity doesn’t exactly condone some of her more indulgent flights of fancy, though. Ironically, she says herself at one point that eccentric people don’t go round telling everyone they’re eccentric, and yet at other times this is exactly what she does: look at me I’m a bit weird.

The spiel about the wheat-free bread is stretched far too thin. My attention also wandered in the interminable saga of the ‘peaceable kingdom’ picture. Her disclaimer is "I’m trying as hard as I can, which translates to: unreliable at best." But her honesty and enthusiasm and fresh ideas make me forgive her.

If you want something entirely original and big hearted, you’ve come to the right place. If happy people annoy you, Josie Long probably isn’t your cup of tea.


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