• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Fringe 2022: Josie Long, ‘Re-Enchantment’ Review

ByAbe Armstrong

Aug 6, 2022
Portrait image of Josie Long, looking off-camera to the right. She is smiling and has her arms folded.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In-keeping with the atmosphere of the Fringe thus far, Josie Long begins her new show Re-Enchantment by telling the audience simply how happy she is to see everyone: ‘I’m so proud of you for being here! I want to give you all a big hug! Is it safe? Don’t think about it.’ For most comics such an opening would be unremarkable, but Long’s enthusiasm is so genuine that you can feel it spread instantly through the room and put the audience at ease. By now, Long is an experienced performer – her first Fringe was in 2006, where she won the Best Newcomer Act and has since been nominated a record three times for Best Show at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards – and, despite the occasional slip-up natural during a new set, it is clear from the start we are in safe hands. What follows is an hour of funny and earnest reflections on parenthood, Glasgow, and being diagnosed with ADHD – ‘being told your unique, wonderful personality is actually a condition.’

Lockdown inevitably forms the backdrop of much of the show, an event which Long says she was present for in body, but not in spirit. Instead, she donned her boyfriends oversized dressing-gown and wore a gold chain, pretending she was a mafia boss on house arrest. Following the birth of her second child, Long imagines her infant reeling from the Covid restrictions: haggard, smoking, on the dole – ‘park’s closed…swings is shut.’ After living in London for much of her life, Long and her family recently relocated to Glasgow in a move she clearly feels overwhelmingly positive about. Indeed, despite stating profusely that she knows she doesn’t have the right to an opinion on Scottish independence, Long can’t help bursting out: ‘Saw it off at Hadrian’s Wall! Wales can go down with the ship!’ Considering the recent embarrassments of the Tory leadership contest – ‘who will win the prize to be the top cunt?’ – this feels a fair assessment.

Long’s delight in her new home is much to do with being surrounded by like-minded radicals, though she is keen to note she is a socialist and not a communist, as she’s ‘not going to do the reading. It’s too much reading.’ Intensely likeable, Long is also fiercely intelligent and her political views stand at the centre of much of her show, though not in a way which ever feels suffocating. She describes being left-wing in the last seven years as like being part of the Nu metal wave – incredibly popular for a sudden brief moment, but now exiled once more to total obscurity. For all the right-wing talk about free speech, Long argues, it is in fact anti-establishment voices on the left who are having their voices curtailed. This feels especially pertinent following Rishi Sunak’s recent sinister proposal to broaden anti-radicalisation measures to anyone who dares to ‘vilify our country.’

Despite Long’s positive demeanour and light-hearted nature, the content itself can be pretty grim. She thinks climate change is actively melting our brains, and pictures us running around like panicked squirrels asking: ‘where will we bury our nuts in the winter?!’ She longs for some of the freedoms of the 1970s, a time before the surveillance state and when unions were strong and David Bowie was alive. It is a testament to how funny the show is, and to Long’s underlying optimism, that you still leave feeling hopeful.

Long closes by stating simply ‘everyone says the world is ending, but my daughter is eight-months old – so it can’t be’.

‘Josie Long: Re-Enchantment’ is at Monkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 3), August 6-9, 11-16, 18-23, 25-28 at 14:50.

Image by Matt Crocke, provided to The Student as press material.