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Josie's ready to stand up and be silly on a mission to find life's funny side

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

Josie Long makes her Cornish debut and a welcome return to Exeter next week as part of her UK Romance and Adventure tour

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It's called Romance and Adventure, but award-winning comedian Josie Long admits that's a rather misleading title for her latest stand-up show, which arrives in the Westcountry next week.

"I made that up as a bit of a con, really. It's not about that at all. It's more to do with the last couple of years, the change in the Government and my own political awakening," she says.

"I was forced out of complacency and it was exciting to feel I was joining in with activism. I also turned 30..."

If all that sounds a bit serious, fear not. She promises that it's really quite a silly show, even though it is straying away from the more whimsical musings that can be spied on YouTube.

"It's sort of about trying to keeping going in difficult times," adds Josie, who is currently driving herself around the country on her sixth solo show.

She started doing straight stand-up when she was a teenager growing up in Kent.

"I loved Monty Python, Victoria Wood, French and Saunders. Things like that made me think I wanted to do it," she says.

"But doing the live stuff came by accident. At ten or 11 I was an awkward child – big, shy and lumbering. I loved mucking around and writing things with my friends. And then a bit later I went to a workshop and I really got into it."

It was certainly a fortuitous choice; at 18 she moved to East London and set out on the stand-up circuit, playing open mic nights and developing her talent for making people laugh.

In the past few years she has been a nominee at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, and snatched best newcomer awards with Chortle, Perrier and the BBC.

Fresh from this year's Edinburgh Fringe, she has yet another prestigious Fosters Comedy Award nomination – that's three years in a row.

Since last summer, as well as touring, she has presented BBC6 Music's Saturday Breakfast and appeared on Dave's One Night Stand.

She's a busy girl, but she likes it that way. She even finds time to write and illustrate a monthly comic strip for The Guardian, taking a fanciful scenario through its paces. Always keen on making her own limited edition cartoon comics, she has no formal art training, but a clear gift for making amusing scribbles. For a while she incorporated them into her show.

"Publishing my own things is great because it is so direct. I like the idea of things being a being rare and harder to find, and treasuring things and appreciating what you are doing," she says.

But more recently she has gone back to the challenge of straight stand-up.

"I really love stand-up. You can really muck around and inhabit the stage; I love how much control and freedom you have," she says.

"I am getting to the point where I am quite comfortable regardless.

"The more you perform, the more consistent your performance becomes. And I don't believe in picking on the people in the front row. I think I am trying really hard to keep it on a level that feels quite friendly and personal."

Josie also loves travelling round the country – one of her favourite things is meeting different people – and also making return visits to the same venues.

"It is quite a rare thing to have seen the country like I have," she says. "I haven't performed in Cornwall before. I did go to St Ives for New Year about five years ago, though. I really hope they like what I do."

Josie Long appears at The Poly, Falmouth (01326 319461 or www.thepoly.org) on Wednesday, December 12 and at Exeter Phoenix (01392 667080 or www.exeterphoenix.org.uk) on Thursday, December 13.

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