Writer and Performer: Josie Long
Reviewer: Simon Topping
Josie Long brings her open, honest and funny show, Tender, about pregnancy, giving birth and the impending doom of the ending of the earth, to a receptive gathering at the Worthing Pavilion Theatre.
With an impish spring onto stage, Long exclaims: “It’s fun to be here. I love the seaside, I’m so glad to be on the pier.”
It’s the first time Long has played Worthing, and her warmth and enthusiasm quickly wins over the coastal crowd. After several minutes of warming up the audience and claiming solidarity with new mums (the only other people who are allowed to call themselves tired) the address begins.
Within the last 18 months Long and her partner Johnny, have become a new parents, to a beautiful little girl. The experience has profoundly changed the performer and she talks about it all in an honest, frank and funny way. She cares not for the trappings of trying to be a glamourous mum; happy to have banana filled hair and cry at odd things at odd times.
Among a litany of likeable rants, Long explains that she loved exploiting the benefits of being pregnant and talks with glee as she got to always get a seat on public transport and sometimes revelled in just being “a bit of a dick”. It’s all very funny material that has the Pavilion in roars and snorts of laughter.
Long is fabulous when she uses her physicality and when exploring madcap impressions, especially as she talks to a stuffed baby seal. This spins the piece into moments of surreal magic as the comedian steeps herself joyful idiosyncrasy.
As the night goes on we find out more about the trials and tribulations of her pregnancy and get a uncensored and funny account of giving birth too. It is a refreshing and open display about what it means for Long to house and birth a human; a picture with no frills, but not overly negative about the process either.
When Long talks about climate change she is more despairing; the facts speak for themselves and it is not a happy truth to embrace. She is dejected and angry with a population that did not choose the Labour party’s radical green agenda in the last election and Boris Johnson and the Tories comes in for a good amount of damnation. It has always been very clear that Long is strongly socialist and if you lean to the right you are not going to enjoy what she has to say, even though it is said in some very creative ways.
Tender is a lovely slice of stand up. Long pulls off the skilful feat of coming across as a mate, someone you’ve know for a long time and are truly invested in. The room connects with her effusive and demonstrative manner. You can imagine serval audience member chatting after the gig in affectionate terms, “Oh Josie. What’s she like!” in the same way you’d talk about a mischievous friend or loved one. The genuine connection she shares with her audience is her greatest strength, and one very good reason to see her on tour right now. The other reason? Well, she is simply a very funny person, and that, more than anything, is probably what you want for a high quality stand up comedian.
Reviewed on 22nd February 2020