Josie Long has a talent to amuse but examples are a little thin in an
overlong solo show
performer Josie Long has won several awards in the UK for her extended
solo stand-up show, “Kindness & Exuberance,” but to cite a typically
British expression, it’s hard to see what all the fuss is about.
Long’s show, performed at the UCB Theatre on March 24, has its amusing
moments, but suffers from sections of weak material and too loose
construction that could easily be remedied by a collaborator or editor.
The first 15 or 20 minutes of this 75-minute show consist of too many
claims that she hasn’t gotten to her real “show” or material yet -- it’s
an attempt to be endearing but it ends up testing your patience.
Long remarks in the show itself that she doesn’t mind being amateurish,
asking what’s so great about being professional anyway. The good thing
about being professional and focused with a one-person show is that
grabs the audience and really does something for them. There were too
many times in this show where she didn’t do that -- material or lines
that seemed intended for applause or some sort of reaction, got silence
or only a few delayed or grudging claps here and there.
All this aside, what does amuse most is Long’s self-deprecation -- one
incident she recalls about getting mugged (back home in the UK) and the
cop asking Long’s friend if she needs someone with her for questioning,
implying that Long’s appearance and self-cut hair mean she’s mentally
retarded and needs a guardian.
Long accentuates this impression with odd ill-fitting clothes, which
could be how she always looks or could be put together just for the show
-- one doesn’t know for sure. She could have made her show more
compelling by relating other such self-deprecating instances or maybe
making a turn into people’s perceptions of those who are mentally
retarded or have Down’s Syndrome, etc. -- shaky ground as comedy, sure,
but Long could pull that off with her sympathetic persona.