To have a theatre named after you in your home town means you have done something credible. The Brian Epstein Theatre, previously The Neptune, was closed for many years. This was a great disappointment to me as it is a beautiful and unique venue to watch musicians and comedians; with previous viewings such as Julian Cope, John Martyn and Loudon Wainwright the III. So returning this evening to the deserved renaming of the man who didn’t discover the Beatles, but moulded them into fame and stardom, still Liverpool’s biggest source of tourist income 47 years after they split, is rightly deserved.
The ever cheerful and optimistic Josie Long was the headliner tonight, plus warm up and karaoke queen; quite an achievement. Josie was born in 1982 and won her first comedy award at 17, and this was my first time watching her live. Josie portrays a person younger than her 35 years. She is vitally optimistic, but with life lessons on social injustices incorporated into her stand up.
Billed as an entertainment show with herself as warm up playing the song ‘Piña Colada’ and dissecting the lyrics, as the audience took their seats, Josie repeated “This is not the show”, as each member of the audience looked slightly bemused. Josie disappeared for a brief second, then bounced onto the stage, introduced herself, and with her innocent mannerisms, started the show.
What followed was nearly three hours of her life, family, friends and politics. I wasn’t expecting such a political content, maybe the other audience members were, but I had refused to access any YouTube clips as I like the surprise element of a show.
Josie continued to say that she was a member of the Labour Party. She wants to change the world, but admitted she needs to do more. (At times during the show, it almost felt like a political rally.) She was disheartened about Brexit, totally gutted, she really couldn’t hide her disappointment, and Nigel Farage and Donald Trump never escaped Josie’s comedic wit.
She is not on a level, politically, with a young Mark Thomas, but she really did care and tonight proved to be educational as well as entertaining.
Josie’s encore involved her singing ‘Never Forget’ by Take That, and she repeated over and over, “You can go if you want, I’m just going to sing”. I was one of the last to leave; I wanted to savour each moment, and I regretted not giving her the badge I was wearing with the slogan “The public gets what the public wants, but I want nothing this society’s got”. I may have worn the badge, but Josie deserved it more than me.
What I learnt from tonight is never judge a book by its cover, and go to more comedy gigs; you could learn ‘something better’. On my journey home, my thoughts replayed the gig and with a smile on my face, I thought “We need more like you Josie long”.