When Josie Long arrives on stage, there’s something different about her. Her south-eastern accent is thicker. She’s aggressive. And she’s talking about the time she “went up space”.
It’s all a brilliantly conceived character she’s playing, of course, and its humour derives from Long’s own awareness of her perceived persona. Because the fact is, Josie Long is sweet, likeable and ruthlessly intelligent. If she wasn’t she wouldn’t be able to pull off such a surprising, convincing caricature of a rude, delusional idiot.
This self-awareness, and Long’s willingness to admit her shortcomings, links intimately to her audience’s own individual shortcomings - which she exploits brilliantly. She explains her obsession with Walter, an American who uploads pictures of his breakfasts onto Flickr, and satirises the guilty pleasure we all get from Facebook stalking.
Even at her silliest, Long is deceptively perceptive. She likes to pretend that Billy Bragg is her dad, but it’s in the context of her target audience’s struggle to comprehend their own descent into adulthood. She frames this in a DIY, craft culture aesthetic, using her sketchpad as a prop for many of her gags… but the issues she explores are hardly trivial.
The show, after all, is called Be Honourable, and she implores her audience to do just that, by making small positive changes to their lives. But she is too friendly to be preachy, and far too witty to let the paradoxes of being a do-gooder pass her by.
She finds joy in the aggravation of having a social conscience, which is why Josie Long must be cherished.