The stand-up returns with a show about the birth of her 13-month old daughter
The Stand, Edinburgh
Josie Long hasn’t performed at the Fringe for five years, and in that time her life has been turned upside down – by the arrival of a baby daughter. “I think I’m the first person to do it,” she says, archly, of parenthood at the top of a show which is almost entirely dedicated to the stock comedy topic.
In Long’s hands, however, the material is revitalised, ranging as it does from the power of the Baby on Board badge to climate apocalypse. It helps that she talks, unflinchingly, viscerally, and yet still humorously, about the various indignities of pregnancy and childbirth – the latter described as “like a cross between MDMA… and death.” It’s not exactly in the kids-say-the-funniest-things school of parent comedy. In fact, I’ve never really seen a comedian talk about labour in such detail – there’s something refreshing and sort of revolutionary about it.
This is a deeply personal show but as Long trips over herself to tell stories about hypnobirthing, lasagne and energy balls, she rarely loses sight of the bigger picture. It’s always inclusive and interesting, and rarely indulgent.
The title of the show is Tender, or as Long puts it: “I look like shit but my heart is full of love.” She isn’t interested in trying to be an “edgy” comic, she says, but there are still bracing gusts of the anger that characterised some of her more recent stand-up.
Michael Gove and the Queen pop up, unexpectedly, in her tale of 50-hour labour, and she admits to being haunted by fears for the future world in which her daughter will grow up. While she bows to no-one in her admiration of Greta Thunberg, she worries that the planet’s future is now in the hands of teenage girls, “who are so mean.”
Ultimately, though, this is a show about faith and love and it is a pleasure to watch. Life-affirming in every sense.