UK Comedian Josie Long is heading to Perth with Robin Ince and a line up of world class comedians and scientists as part of Cosmic Shambles LIVE tour. The show promises to entertain and educate audiences and is in Perth for only one night on Thursday April 13 at The Octagon Theatre. SIAN CHOYCE asked her a couple of questions ahead of the upcoming tour.
I understand the host, Robin Ince began the idea for this show 12 years ago in London by putting together variety show lineups that were a mix of comedy, science and music. How and when did you become involved?
I think I actually performed at the first one Robin did – we have been making podcasts together since around the same time, and Robin ran a brilliant, mad variety night in London called the Book Club, that we would get me on at. He has always been a really inspiring figure on the comedy scene because he has created spaces where people can share ideas and experiment in a silly, exciting way!
What can people expect from the show?
Enthusiasm, curiosity, unashamed intellectualism but also loads of silliness and fun. And cool musicians.
Sounds fun, would you say the show is suitable for anyone?
Yes. I think anyone who is curious and interested in the world will enjoy it.
Have you all been touring this show together for a while?
No, we are starting this one together in Australia, although we’ve all performed at Robin’s science shows and these variety shows for years in the UK, and also the core tour have all been on my and Robin’s Book Shambles podcast.
You’ve been to Perth previously, but only touring your solo stand-up. Did you enjoy it last time and are you looking forward to coming across with a larger group of performers and professors?
I did! I was only here for a few days last time and I feel like I haven’t yet got my head around the city, I’m excited to get to come back again, and yes it’s great to have a gang! Often solo touring can be lonely and you don’t get to do as many fun things – it’s no fun go karting or going to Laser Quest on your own!
The production company involved, Trunkman Productions, has been based in the UK for nearly a decade, but began locally in Fremantle. Have they shared any secret local must-see places?
Do you know, they haven’t yet! I feel like they’ve been playing their cards close to their chests and I need to get this info, dammit!
You studied English at Oxford University, but would you say you have a natural curiosity for science as well? And if so, what would you say inspired that?
I think in Britain especially, our school system is structured in such a way as to have very rigid subjects and to pit different subjects against each other. Growing up it was always almost adversarial- you’re either and arty person or a science-y person and you can’t be both! So it was a really wonderful experience to rediscover studying and exploring science again in my mid-twenties. Seeing Robin reading and writing about so many scientific things was a real inspiration too.
Do you tend to write material specific to the science theme of the show? How do you find writing for this show compared to ‘normal’ stand up comedy?
Yes I do – I’ve written routines about Charles Darwin’s letters, and David Hume’s (debatable) atheism, and Galileo being a terrible person to camp with. This tour I’m focusing on conclusively proving the existence or non-existence of ghosts. I love having a brief to write to, and I love the whimsical silliness of writing on a theme.
Are the Cosmic Shambles audiences very different to a general standup audiences? If so, how?
Yes, they are so bright, you can really feel that they get every and any reference that you want to make. Also they can heckle with much more interesting things, like “there’s no way David Hume would have self identified as an atheist” which is more fun than “you suck!”
Are you expecting any science based heckles?
Ha, I’m positively hoping for them!
This show aims to entertain and educate, in 2012 you co-founded Arts Emergency with Neil Griffiths, a charity which aims to assist in giving access to Arts and Humanities degrees to those who aren’t fortunate enough to have had the privilege generally associated with studying those fields. Have you always been passionate about education?
Yes, I think life long learning is the key to a better functioning, happy society. I think creativity and studying are the keys to a good life too!
And finally on a lighter note, do you think God would enjoy the show (even if he had to block his ears when you were talking about the age of the Earth)?
Oh yeah, he’d be bang into it, even just the slapstick bits.