Interview with Jon Long

"You don’t want to become stale or irrelevant, but at the same time you want to work on your stuff long enough for it to reach its full potential."

Interview with Jon Long

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Jon, I’m a stand up and musical comedian. I tell jokes and sing stupid songs.

How would you describe your show?

It’s about how, through working in a recycling factory, I discovered how awful I am to the planet... but it’s funny and not a total downer, I promise.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I love it. I went before I did comedy and it’s my favourite time of year. I’ve got a lot of Scottish family too, so it’s when I get to see all of them.

What differentiates the Fringe from other festivals?

The sheer scale of it. There’s nowhere else you can get to perform comedy so often in such a concentrated period of time, and to people from all over the world. 

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

Growing up, my sister and I would watch lots of comedy on VHS, like the 90’s/early 00’s legends we were. Our favourites were Kevin & Perry Go Large & Billy Connolly’s stand up. Then as I got older, I leaned more and more towards stand up. I’d watch Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran over and over. My musical comedy inspirations were Flight of the Concords and Victoria Wood.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

Teaching I think. That’s the contingency plan. 

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

I’d say Malcolm Gladwell’s job at the New Yorker: to have the freedom to write articles about absolutely anything you like and find interesting. Or maybe an author like Donna Tart. Given the space to chip away on a single piece of work for a decade. I guess to get those jobs you have to be as clever and talented as Gladwell and Tart, right?... Damn.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I always drew comic strips (badly) as a kid and my primary school teacher, being supportive, asked me to do one for the school notice board. It was to go alongside an announcement that they’d bought some plastic cricket stumps and bats for the playground. I drew a three-cell comic strip of a batsmen getting out, with “how” “is” “that?” as the three captions. I hung around near it to hear people’s reactions. No one noticed for ages and then finally one older boy stopped and looked at it for a second, before saying: “this...is...crap” Slowly pointing out each of the three cells as he said it. A devastating early introduction to the world of reviewers, though pretty funny in retrospect... and he was right, it was crap. 

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

I’m not particularly topical, but I do think it’s important to be constantly developing and working up new material. You don’t want to become stale or irrelevant, but at the same time you want to work on your stuff long enough for it to reach its full potential. 

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?

For my own show there’s been a very useful shift, in that I wanted to discuss the environmental topics I’d been learning about in my day-job at a waste and recycling centre (in the education team giving school tours), but it wasn’t feasible because people didn’t really want to discuss it. In the last year or so that has changed, and it’s become much easier. Plus, people have a bigger collective pool of knowledge on the topic now, so you can reference more aspects of it.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

“Confusing”, “scary”, but also “over too-quickly”

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

I’d pick the Beatles in Hamburg, try and get in there as a spare rhythm guitar player. They played eight-hour sets, seven days a week, for months at a stretch. It’s how they got so good. I’d like to have watched that happen.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Make all your goals personal ones, about you as a performer or writer, like “I want to get better at crowd work” or “I want to write fifteen new minutes of material” rather than external things that have loads of factors outside your control, like: “I want to get a five star review” or “I want to get nominated for an award”... that way lies madness!

Where can people find, follow and like you online?

@JonLongStandUp on Instagram and Twitter and @JonathanLongathan on Facebook

When and where can people see your show?

I’ll perform Planet Killing Machine from 31st July – 26th August at Underbelly, Bristo Square at 9:30pm. Tickets from: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jon-long-planet-killing-machine

Header Image Credit: Mark Dawson

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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