Opinion: What Changes When You See A Show More Than Once?

Josie Long

A few years ago I went to see one of Derren Brown’s spectacular shows in the West End. At one point during the show Brown told the mesmerised audience that if they saw the show a second time they would probably spot how he did his stunning tricks. I didn't see the show twice so I don’t know if this is true, but I presume he means that one would spot some of his misdirection and stage techniques on the second viewing.

I went to see Josie Long at the Soho Theatre last night and I think I had a glimpse of what Brown was getting at. I gave Cara Josephine four stars when I reviewed the show in Edinburgh and four stars in the Evening Standard and I’m not for a moment saying that it doesn’t deserve all of the raves it is getting, but the interesting thing is that I have seen the full show twice now and bits of it five times – at Latitude, in Edinburgh, at the Greenwich Comedy Festival and supporting Aziz Ansari – and there were moments which I viewed differently this time round, as follows. Warning the following contains spoilers but I have tried to keep them to a minimum.

Exhibit One: During Long’s wonderful anecdote about travelling to Germany for a gig she talks about booking an early flight to have plenty of time in Berlin. According to Skyscanner, the only direct flight to Berlin from Southend Airport is at 5pm (there is a 10.30am flight but it is via Dublin and takes over 9 hours). That doesn’t sound very early to me. They could, of course, have changed their schedules since then though. 

Exhibit Two. She talks about living in a houseshare that was so intellectually rigorous they didn’t have a TV. But get with the programme, these days who needs a TV to watch TV? In fact later she sings the praises of Orange Is The New Black, so methinks she has been sneaking a peak at Netflix on her laptop. Hey Josie, did you know you can watch The Great British Bake Off on your laptop too? Unless you banned broadband at home too not having a TV is no biggie.

Exhibit Three: In her story about going to the beach with Nigel Farage she imagines an incident when Farage – I’m trying not to give too much away here – needs the assistance of something foreign and because of who he is he can’t have it. The story justifiably gets a brilliant laugh but Farage’s wife Kirsten Mehr was born in Germany so he clearly doesn’t have the aversion to all things European as Long implies.

Exhibit Four: During her story about a song being played at her sister’s wedding Long talks about not knowing much about contemporary pop and didn't know sub-Mumford strummers The Lumineers’ Hey Ho. Yet she has DJ’d at indie club Scared To Dance and I’ve seen clips of her dancing on YouTube. Is she really so out of touch with mainstream music?

Anyway, this isn’t meant as a take-down of Josie Long who I think is always brilliant. And in some ways seeing the show more than once made me appreciate the skill, stagecraft and hard work that had gone into it. I recommend that everyone should see her current show at the Soho Theatre. And I would not be surprised if Josie can justify every word of her routines and refute all of my points if she can be bothered. It’s just that being a pedantic type these were things that I noticed last night that I hadn’t really given a thought to on previous viewings. Now, when is Derren Brown next on in London…

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