To think that a show about new motherhood and the climate crisis could be both funny and relatable to someone without a child seems unlikely, but Josie Long has achieved just that with her show Tender. How does one bring a child into a world when we're facing a climate crisis and the end of the world? We find hope in the next generation.
With warnings that the show was as close to her planned 2020 performance as possible 'but with new motherhood chaos from the pandemic', Josie didn't just make a couple of jokes about having a baby and move on—it was the entire show. As she pointed out, so much of comedy is putting others down but she doesn't think that's particularly 'edgy'. What's edgy is her weaving together the experience of having a baby and that putting the climate crisis into perspective for her: talking about the fact that in 2030 her daughter will be 12 and the climate will be past the point of no return, yet making the audience feel hopeful and optimistic for the future.
She tells us how she hated every name her partner chose for their child and will still wear a baby on board badge on public transport when she's 80, how she loves 'hypnobirthing anti-capitalist hippy shit' and that the first thing she told her daughter was that she doesn't know anything while in the same breath telling a poignant story about her actual first words to her daughter, her campaigning for Labour's Green New Deal in 2019 and how incredible the NHS is. She has the vibe of a female Mark Thomas but wearing excellent dungarees and with a slightly more chaotic and full-on energy, in the best way possible.
She told the audience how having a daughter has made her see the world in a new light, from the positive (her daughter's love of leaves) to things like how bad air pollution is. But most interestingly, she made a link between the transition period between passive and active labour and people's emotional state when confronted with climate crisis. People are scared, and want everything to be fixed but simultaneously don't want to be the ones to fix it. That's where her closing statements come in: reminding us all that Greta Thunberg is a beacon of hope and common sense; that teenage girls will save the world; that staying hopeful isn't the point, because the hard work still needs to be done.
Humans are good at adapting, whether to a pandemic or to becoming a parent (even if for Josie she says it took 13 months). Josie's show leaves the audience feeling so much joy and hope for the future, but above all with one important message: if you want to avoid pregnancy you should spend the extra 99p on your period tracker app. If there's one thing I'll remember from the show, it's that.
Josie Long: Tender was a one night only show. To see her future performances, click here.