Break-up shows are hardly a scarce resource in the comedy world, it being heavily populated by folk in their 20s and 30s. But you'd be hard pushed to find a better break-up show than Cara Josephine, Josie Long's latest one.
For the rubbernecker, Long strays closer than most comics to itemising how the relationship came undone. But 60 minutes of lingering on a love carcass would be at odds with her trademark vivacious persona, and not exactly Dr Chuckle's Funtime for us lot. Instead, Long explores how the psychological fallout of the break-up, which is a little more conducive to the genre. She questions the sort of person she's attracted to and attempts to force herself in another direction, she examines how her outlook compares to her parents and her sister who "lives in Maidstone by choice", and her chosen methods of recovery (which largely boil down to swimming and climbing). And at root, there's her fear of being "left behind" while all around her are banging out the babies.
All of which sounds very navel-gazing, when in fact Cara Josephine is fast-paced and tremendous fun, and not in the least bit self-indulgent. The most striking thing that, with 15+ years experience behind her, Long is now the complete comedian, impressive on every front and therefore able to extract laughs in any number of ways. The ostentatious asides may stick in the memory – the silly voices, the impressions, the gurning, the word "unbrunchable". And my two favourite moments are pieces of cartoonish physicality, one during a routine about her gargantuan capacity for love for her niece, one during an imagined tryst with Nigel Farage. But minute by minute, the show is driven by powerful writing and powerful delivery. It's quite the package.
There's no doubt the content of the show will chime most with 30somethings, mainly of the childless variety, but it's not so age-specific as that – anyone who's ever loved or been loved can relate to the fear and confusion Long presents to us. Compare and contrast to her political shows, which are unashamedly dogmatic and activist in tone – you're either with her or against her. Cara Josephine is a far more inclusive proposition. The show does lose its way a bit after a twist towards the end, but by then we're on the home straight.
In fact the only bit I really objected to was Long's assertion that Blood On the Tracks is Bob Dylan's best album – it's not, it's Desire, obviously. And on that note, I'll add that Cara Josephine is my favourite Josie Long show.
4.5 stars Review by Paul Fleckney