Josie Long

Liam Lonegran 17/09/2009

The antidote to the malaise of a teeth baring industry, the red capped pin in a box of brass nails, the pedulent lightbulb in a industrial lead factory.........the comedians novelty hairclip: Liam Lonegran caught up with the lovely Josie Long...

Do you make a conscious effort to distance yourself from the vitriolic nature of modern comedy?

I don't really see modern comedy as vitriolic in nature. Maybe I'm not noticing those people? I can only think of a few really angry comedians, and it more feels like their personal style. The things I grew up loving were generally quite silly or quite heartfelt. I do think that when i write shows there's a big aspirational element for me as I tend to write about trying to improve myself personally in some way, so i suppose that's a conscious decision not to just be vitriolic.

Have you noticed a particular hostility in the comedy industry?

Not really. Most comedians are really supportive to one another, and in love with watching and performing comedy. Critics are quite peripheral unless you're in edinburgh and freaking out, and unless you're going to go trolling the internet for pathetic nutters, most audiences are normal people who want to have a good time. I think people who love comedy can be quite intense in their feelings about it, but no more so than any other type of art or entertainment.

What do you say to accusations that your style of stand-up is a little undernourished and twee? - Does a stand-up set need to be packed with political citations or passionate ranting to be considered something with substance?

I say these people are going to get cut. tell me their names and I'll find them on facebook or bebo and shit and cut them. They don't know shit.

Carl Donnely and Mark Watson both just wrote good articles on, defending comedy (!) from a guy who was arguing that stand ups should be focussed solely on solving the world's ills and undermining the political power structure. One of the things i most love about stand up comedy is how free it is as a genre and how much you can tailor it to your own purposes. I just don't think stand up "should" be anything other than funny, engaging and meaningful to the person performing it (and hopefully to the crowd, but you can't bank on that happening every time). I do think it's better to do thinks that have passion and deep meaning imbued in them, but it's not essential to being funny and compelling. My own personal approach has been to treat it as my vocation, to try and communicate what I feel I've been learning or what I feel is current and important and also to draw stupid pictures and put on an exaggerated kentish voice. And weirdly, I think it's included more political rants recently than ever.

Is there a constant vein in your work?

I think it's been the idea that cynicism will get you nowhere and that enthusiasm and openness are more fun. I like the idea of being a bit kinder and friendlier to people in general, as well as life long learning. So I think this influences everything I'm interested in, that I write and research.

Do you keep a journal / reference book? (see: Bob Monkhouse's ''Magna Carta'')

Bob Monkhouse's joke book was amazing! Terrifying levels of taxonomy! I keep lots of journals and have lots of ideas books for different shows and projects. I'm a bit of a notebook pervert. I keep buying new ones and I love to find a good one that is a good size and shape that fits my purpose. On any given day I will think it's essential to have about 6 different project notebooks on me (diary, stand up book, new ideas book, rough book, comic book ideas, etc.) it's ridiculous and means I carry a cumbersome rucksack everywhere.

Can you laugh at feminism, racism etc. if covered with a cloak of irony? Or are these issues too important to be ''splurged'' by comics?

The question's a bit unclear as mocking feminism would be mocking something I'm dead into but mocking racism would be a fun and worthy thing. Email interviews are too hard to read! Do you mean, do I find it hard to see the funny side of things that I hold dear- don't be racist, don't be sexist etc? I think I am a bit uptight when people take the piss out of middle class liberal earnestness, yeah- I guess nobody likes to feel like they are being taken the piss out of and I do believe that feminism, for example is so important and that it's not a laughing matter that women are demeaned and exploited around the world. But then I fully admit that it's a good thing to be made to realise you're a bit uptight and that it all depends on the context and the comedian. Some people can make almost anything amusing. That having been said, I think if someone's intention is clearly sexist or racist I think it shines through and it's not funny. I'd also say i don't think irony is an excuse for being a rabble rousing dickhead. It's not cool if you know you're not a racist but most of your audience are racists enjoying themselves. But it's an interesting thing about comedy i think, as so much of it is about lying and leading people up the garden path only to confound them.

Name 5 fledgling comics who deserve our attention

James Acaster
Joe Lycett
Sara Pascoe (although she's not exactly a fledgeling! she's pretty established, but she's amazing!)
Hatty Ashdown
Joey Page

Name 5 veteran comics who have influenced you

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer
Stewart Lee and Richard Herring
Daniel Kitson
David o Doherty (Don't know how much him and kitson would like to be called veterans tho! But Dod was in korean war. Boom. Is the sound he can hear in his dreams. Zing.)
Simon Munnery

Any recent recent observations/anecdotes (let's focus on the minutiae)?

Pretend this is Twitter, and you've just knocked some buns into the dogs water or something...

Dude when I'm on twitter it's all fascinating shit! like "time machine finally up and running, going to kick some ass in fifteenth century lol rofl zomg". Actually i think one of the last things i tweeted was : Nicholas Nickleback #numetaldickens I like it when i come up with a silly hashtag.

Is the industry as competitive as we're led to believe?

I don't think so. You run your own race, and you are onstage doing your own personal work. So you can't really compete against anyone else. There is no clear route you should follow for a happy or fulfilling career in comedy and there's no clear way to compare yourself to anyone else really. Most people just get on with it and gig as much as possible, and i think most people just wish they personally were as good as they hope they could be, if that doesn't sound too wanky. There are fewer auditions and fewer stressful comparisons than if we were actors and not writer-performers.

Will you ever include darker aspects of your psyche into your work?

Yeah I think so. I'd like to be writing and performing stand up for my whole life so i assume sometimes i'll be a furious dickhead. I think the worst aspects of my personality already seep into stuff despite my efforts to try and seem better than I am.

(Shameless plug) What do you think of my blog? (

I like your recent slamming of paul daniels! My friend is obsessed with his blog, which is quite reactionary and furious, apparently. I'd recommend that to you.
I like your blog (!) but only if it had more photos of food or of old people who dress stylishly it could be my favourite!