On the 25th January 2016 we were lucky enough to have to opportunity to visit comedian Josie Long at her Arts Emergency Office in Hackney*. Josie had gathered together a collection of gems from throughout her career, ranging from some her first tours to her drawings & zines, to material from her monthly ‘The Lost Treasures of the Black Heart’ comedy club.
One of the earliest items from the collection is a notebook created by Josie when she was performing live in 1998 which contains listings, photographs and annotations.
A significant part of Josie’s collection is a vast amount of material from her various tours, from Kindness & Exuberance in 2006/2007 to her Cara Josephine show performed from 2014-2016. Within these series’ are items related to tour preparations such as beautiful mind-maps of ideas for shows, to the sketch pads and props used in the shows themselves!
Another amazing part of Josie’s collection is the audience contributions made at her live shows. It has been wonderful to see how involved and enthusiastic comedy audiences can be. For example in her Kindness and Exuberance tour, audience members were encouraged to write down their ‘favourite small thing’. After the tour Josie created a zine from these contributions.
As part of Josie ‘All of the Planets Wonders’ tour, she encouraged audience members to send her objects so that she could create a museum of All the Planets Wonders objects which attracted a variety object including books, badges and even food.
It is brilliant to also have a range of materials from Josie’s life outside of her solo performances. Her collection stretches to material from her ‘The Lost Treasures of the Black Heart’ comedy club which includes club notes & records books and also audience artwork created during the shows.
Finally, a mention has to be made to Josie’s great comic creations. From August 2011 Josie has been drawing for the Guardian, creating a comic called ‘Josie Long’s Another Planet’, a collection of which is now in the archive. Also from 2005 Josie has created her own ‘Drawing Moustaches in Magazines Monthly‘ Magazine, issues 1-7 of which are now held by BSUCA.
The Josie Long collection has now been catalogued and will soon be discoverable via the University of Kent Library catalogue and accessible to view on request at the Special Collections Reading Room.
*Arts Emergency is an organisation created by Josie Long and Neil Griffiths, working with young people in higher education from diverse backgrounds, helping them to effectively access higher education in the Arts or Humanities. They create events to share this information and also to raise money for the work that they do.