Edinburgh Festival review: Josie Long

Josie Long is on the form of her life in new show Be Honourable, achieving the tricky feat of making social commentary funny, writes Ben Clover.

Josie_Long3As Jon Stewart said in his latest riposte to Fox News, comedy and social commentary are often the same thing. But comics can run aground trying to work backwards to the former from the latter.

Happily, Josie Long is on best-ever form at the moment and makes it look a doddle. The Be Honourable show at Just the Tonic works as a solid hour-plus of laughs and as a manifesto. While the show’s not political in the same way as Andy Zaltzman’s she pulls off talking about issues with a light touch.

She describes doing a gig in front of her tribe, haircut 20-somethings, and being shocked that they were shocked when she attacked David Cameron. Their audible intake of breath seems to have given her pause for thought about how engaged her generation were.

And a lot of this show is concerned with what she, and by extension everyone, can do to improve things, from being friendly to strangers in cities to objecting to objectification. This isn’t a millionth as preachy as it sounds and the jokes and delivery are the best I’ve seen from her.

Maybe it’s the strong theme behind it, but it’s also the most cohesive show she’s ever done. Apt to meander in the past, this is the first time she’s achieved something that seems experimental and super-tight, quite a feat.

And it’s not all political. Her interests are broad enough to include 15-odd minutes on breakfast as well as the ups and downs of being adopted by Nye Bevan and Billy Bragg.

Near the end she quotes Kurt Vonnegut’s saying that those with good intentions are doomed to failure but that, nevertheless, their’s is the only team worth playing for.

But Be Honourable contradicts the Breakfast of Champions author’s dictum by having a noble intent and succeeding totally. This is a winning show that will delight the faithful and convert the doubters.

Five stars
Josie Long – Be Honourable is on at 7.40pm at Just the Tonic at the Caves. Click here for booking.

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