Lefty Scum (with Josie Long) – ****

Lefty Scum with Josie Long at Cambridge Junction 2019

Cambridge Junction
18 March, 2019

There’s been a warm, passionate and political hole in the comedy scene for a few months now as Josie Long has taken an extended break to have a child (so selfish!)

But the former Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer is back and brilliant as ever in a show that mixes comedy, music and community.

Josie takes turns on the stage with acclaimed folk musician Grace Petrie and musical comedy duo Jonny and the Baptists (featuring Josie’s partner and father of her child, the titular Jonny) for a variety show that isn’t quite so royal.

Inevitably, the topic of becoming a new mother (and father in the case of Jonny) comes up, even impacting the practicalities of the show as Josie and Jonny tag team between venue and nearby Travelodge to share parenting duties throughout the show.

It doesn’t distract from the performance, however, as Jonny and the Baptists get us off to a rollicking start with some uptempo numbers that definitely fall into ‘lefty’ political territory in ways that still deliver laughs. They can do serious as well, however, with Jonny’s voice soaring in a sombre cover of Sinead O’Connor’s Black Boys on Mopeds.

Then while Jonny runs to the hotel to hand the baton to Josie, Grace Petrie shows why she is a powerful new voice on the folk circuit, with a short set of songs full of anger against injustice.

Josie closes the first half with a set largely focused on becoming a mother and the inevitable tiredness, wonder and confusion. There is a political bite on occasion, but maybe the current situation is just too depressing to talk about on a comedy night when you’ve just brought new life into the world.

For the second half, the running order is reversed, with Josie opening with a set that follows on from the first, before Grace Petrie showed a more personal side with a song about rushing from Glastonbury to be at her sister’s bedside for the birth of her niece.

To close the show we get some classics from Jonny and the Baptists, including their first song inspired by the heartwarming story of a community that managed to save a library facing closure due to austerity measures by taking out every single book the day before it was due to shut down.

Although far from the polished shows each of these acts has done before, this was a loose and loveable show that delivered on its attempt to bring a little bit of joy into an increasingly dark world.

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