Josie Long clearly enjoys a challenge. The award-winning comic set out to make her latest show, Something Better, a positive one to offset the grim reality of Brexit and Trump. While it certainly seemed the case that, based on audience reaction, she was decidedly preaching to the converted, Long’s optimism in the face of such depressing subject matter was no small feat.
A show powered by Long’s own introspection about the political climate, and how the reality is so far removed from her own ideals, clearly resonated with the audience here; a heartfelt and intelligent response to an overwhelming situation, and a dissection of her own abilities to grapple with the challenges ahead.
As far as politicised comedy is concerned, this show stayed at the smaller, more personal end of the spectrum, and was all the more effective for it. Following on from an impromptu bout of karaoke – focused on deconstructing pop songs of questionable morality – prior to the actual start of the show, Long quickly introduced those main threads of the show, drawing parallels with her own life. That these topics were handled with an honesty and self-deprecating, gallows humour, served only to heighten the potency of the show, where Long’s upbeat nature grappled with the big topics which dominate the news agenda, her uncertainty and occasional sense of helplessness and vulnerability mirroring our own. Only with the occasional catchphrase referencing her fondness for a glass or two of pinot grigio did this set stray into irreverent territory, punctuating the overall tone with a bit of light relief.
Something Better is, ultimately, just that – somehow both a product of and antidote to current events, overflowing with keenly observed gags and winning optimism in the face of the daily douchebaggery which makes up the news. Long has arguably never been on better form, and this timely, vital show really felt like essential viewing.