Read Online - Viva Brighton

Josie Long
Omid Djalili
Every cloud has its silver gag-lines
Why performing beats partying
to write a show, every-
about the schoolgirl
thing around you
When my daughter was two, I went to a children’s
comedian?’ the Sunday
you’re just vampiris-
show and lost her. I thought: ‘Christ, she’s not on
Times asked in 1999.
ing, so you can have
my lap anymore!’ Everyone started laughing be-
The article was about
quite bad things hap-
cause she went up on stage, and just stood there and
a 17-year-old A-Level
pen to you, and you
looked at the crowd and beamed a smile - didn’t do
student from Orping-
think: ‘Oh, I’ll get five
anything, just smiled. I felt that was like me: I just
ton who had become
minutes out of this,
want to be on stage. I’ve got nothing to say, I just
‘almost a veteran of
that’s alright…’
want to stand there and look at a crowd.
“It’s been helpful with
I always felt very at home on stage, but very uncom-
this show, because
fortable in the classroom, very uncomfortable in a
a lot of this show’s
pub. I couldn’t stand being at parties. People would
about heartbreak and
be drinking, snogging, doing activities that were to-
the alternative comedy
She’d loved drama and
performing at school,
Photo by Giles Smith
‘Heard the one
as well as TV comedy, so, as a 14th-birthday
hard things that have happened, and it’s kind of
tally alien to me. It felt more natural to me to stand
present, her mother had bought her a place on
helpful to know that I can try and write comedy
on stage saying nothing than being at a party, or in a
a comedy workshop. ‘At 15 she was on the same
about them. That’s quite cathartic, and it’s a way
pub holding a drink.
Stand-up comedy is such a minefield. From the
bill as Jo Brand and Harry Hill.’ At the time of
of taking things that were painful and making
So I gravitated towards the stage, and then it was a
moment you stand on stage, even the way you are
the article, she was in the final of the BBC’s New
them less so.
real struggle to say something that was of any value.
introduced, the way you come on stage, every single
Comedy Award, which she won.
“But in other ways it is really weird, because I
I think that’s been my struggle, and still is… I really
second of it can affect… you can do a brilliant show,
Now aged 32, and a cult favourite, with three Per-
don’t know what my life would be like without it;
don’t know if what I say connects with people, I
and then do one thing the audience doesn’t like,
rier nominations, Josie Long was surprised to be
I’ve never had a time where I wasn’t, in some part
have no idea. But people still come, they pay money,
show a weird political viewpoint or say something
asked repeatedly about her teenage years. “Is this,
of the back of my mind, thinking about making
so something must be going alright.
slightly dodgy, and they will hate you; you can
like, a magazine for young people?” she asks, add-
comedy in some way.”
It’s not just about the laughs; it’s about connect-
literally crumble like a load of dominoes. I think
ing with enthusiasm that that would be “COOL!”
Is she able to have that sense of perspective at the
ing with people. But an audience is different every
that’s the amazing beauty of it, but also what makes
I reply that I just thought it was ‘an angle’.
time that bad things are happening to her? “Er,
night. That’s the risk of it. It can go horribly wrong,
it really scary.
“Hang on, let me try and think more about it. It
not really, which is good, I think. If you’re, like,
and you won’t know why. It could be a couple of
But when you’re on stage you have total control. At
was 15 or 16 years ago now. It’s funny, because
being dumped, and while you’re literally being
people in a room with a bad energy, that you could
a party I think I don’t have control. That’s the thing.
I’ve been doing comedy longer than I’ve not
dumped you’re thinking, ‘oh, this will make a
pick up on, and it could completely destroy you.
Stand up can be a totally free experience, because
been doing it, so it’s kind of always been a part
good Edinburgh show’, that’s not good. On the
You have the mental strength to not be affected by
you are, every second, every step, setting the agenda.
of my life, and a part of how I live and process
whole I think I’m alright. It’s only ever afterwards
it. If you’re playing in front of 3,000 people, some-
I think that’s all it is: comedians, we’re mentally ill
my thoughts. It’s so weird to think of it like that,
that I’m like [this could be funny]. Though I think
times it’s like Euston station: 2,800 people are lov-
control freaks, and we’d much rather be on stage
like I’ve never been without it, and there’s never
once I got mugged and it was really scary and I
ing it, but you can see 200 people on their phones,
than at a party because at a party there are so many
been… I very rarely thought of giving it up or not
thought ‘I’m going to talk about this on stage’,
there’s a comedian who you really respect who’s fast
variables. Anything can happen.
doing it.”
while it was happening.” Steve Ramsey
asleep, a couple of pretty girls are talking, a reviewer
As told to Steve Ramsey
Does that give her a strange perspective on the
Josie Long: Cara Josephine, Feb 19, Brighton
who you respect is writing something… You have to
Omid Djalili: Iranalamadingdong, Sun 15, Theatre
world? “Sometimes. Sometimes if you’re trying
Dome Corn Exchange, 8pm, £14/£12
learn to phase all that out, and just do the show.
Royal, 8pm, £26.90