There are lots of words you can use to describe Jon Long, purveyor of clever gags and witty songs. He's undoubtedly pleasant company on stage: likeable, agreeable, personable, at times charming, and generally amiable, good-natured and gracious. He's also an engaging performer, compassionate and understanding of the world and why he should try to do better when it comes to the environment. I suppose what I'm basically trying to explain here is… he's nice.
An engaging performer, compassionate and understanding of the world.
That's a word I usually try very hard to avoid; in part because of the general overuse that's robbed it of any intrinsic meaning, but also because its etymological origins are more unkind – back in the 13th century, it meant foolish, ignorant, frivolous or weak—none of which apply to Jon Long. Unless by "weak" you’re referring to the nerve damage in his left arm that means he's "partially disabled". He can still play guitar, though: and so accompanies himself through a succession of songs – although musical deviations from the chat that weaves around them is perhaps a better description.
Admitting to "romanticising dystopias", and emotionally "shutting down" when things – such as environmental apocalypse – get scary, Long is nevertheless pleasantly honest company. Songs such as You Can't Recycle That – inspired by his time as a tour guide at a local tip (sorry, recycling centre) flow amiably into descriptions of embarrassing work situations. Admittedly, his attempt to engineer some audience competition (on the day of this review, the women definitely sang louder than the men, although that might be because there were more of them) felt a tad forced. As indeed was his succinctly rude opinion about joggers, to be honest.
That it all seems so effortless is all to Long's credit, given that this is his full-show debut. Despite believing himself to be a natural pessimist, the simple fact is that the self-described "Planet Killing Machine" is… lovely company for an afternoon. You'll definitely leave his company feeling happier about yourself than you did going in, which is definitely a "win" and surely a recommendation worth splashing across all his posters in future.