WITH bounding silliness on the one side, and emphatic anti-government ideology on the other, comedian Josie Long held no political punches at Cheltenham Ladies' Parabola Arts Centre in her appearance at Cheltenham's Comedy Festival.
An outspoken 'leftie,' Long's show was often more akin to a UK Uncut rally than a straight-up stand-up performance. Long even gave up the first half of her gig time to Grace Petrie, a folk musician right out of the Billy Bragg school of political singer-songwriting.
"I love social justice!" Long cried, scrunching up her fists. "I'm a big fan, I've got all the pictures.
"I love it so much that if I sit for any length of time and think about how the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and bigger… I can't believe I got so engaged and passionate about it, and we are only two-and-a-half years in. Now I'm slow and jaded, and I have got trench foot, and all the poetry I've written is bad."
Soon after into cheerily walking on stage, Long admitted: "I'm sort of scared of Cheltenham right, because the Town Hall is haunted by the ghost of my bad gigs… And I was scared because it's beautiful and a bit posh, and I didn't want you to think I was slagging you off personally!"
She is pro-public sector, anti-private sector, anti-NHS and welfare reforms, pro-solidarity and pro-Dennis Skinner MP (Labour), and was emphatic that her audience members have power at their fingertips as citizens to make – or prevent – change.
"You have so much more control over your community than you think you do," she said, "but you have to be active, you have to be involved."
So where did the romance and adventure come in? Almost a year to date, Long scaled the dizzying, 15,000ft heights of Mount Kenya for charity.
She now has a Scottish boyfriend. "A long distance relationship is basically like having a tamogotchi," she observed.
"I loved climbing the mountain, I loved it so much it scared me – what if that's my calling in life?"
That, along with her wide-eyed excitement at receiving a crate of champagne after one gig made Long worry "that I like too many posh things to be helpful" to the debate over spending cuts.
If the woops and applause were anything to go by, it seemed most of those coming to see the Edinburgh Fringe veteran already identified with her anti-cuts agenda.
That said, the Buzz did overhear one audience member say in a stage whisper: "I can't believe she said all that in the arts centre of CLC. I don't know if she thought she was going to be stoned to death…"