Who says birth isn’t a laughing matter?
Josie Long: Tender: The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh * * * *
Reframing the concept of edgy comedy to mean sleep-deprived and on the verge of nervous exhaustion, Josie Long is persecuted by her nagging fears about climate change.
Her excitability is, however, as infectious as always. And though she scarcely needs it, goodwill towards this goofy optimist is enhanced by the news that she’s had a baby. With some obvious caveats about the apocalypse and acknowledgement that everyone’s experience of parenting is different, Tender is explicitly personal and positive.
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That said, she does characterise the stabbing pain in her back during pregnancy as a prominent Tory politician, permit her violent dislike of the mega-rich to radiate off her and is generally only a seething bite of the tongue from instigating all-out class war.
But it’s her whole maternal experience that is at the heart of this show, and it seems to have been a typically rollercoaster one, even if she ascribes an extra lack of preparedness to her and her partner’s approach to contraception to their leaning too hard on modern digital technology.
Still, she has absorbed and more-or-less convincingly parrots an argument for why her daughter is not catastrophic further carbon footprints but a boon for the environment. And her faith in Greta Thunberg and her fellow activist teenagers is only slightly qualified by the mercilessness of girls that age and her reluctant need for self-agency.
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As for many of us, Long’s eco-concerns are ever-present but exist as a background hum, as she scrambles to adjust to motherhood. With some wider changes in society but not enough, as outdated notions about acceptable topics for stand-up persist and she continues to experience abuse simply for doing her job, she offers a wry and often hilariously detailed account of her labour.
The message that children reacquaint us with our better selves is sentimental. But it’s well-earned after an hour of near-constant laughs.
Until 25 August.