Jon Long: Planet-Killing Machine

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.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
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Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

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The Blurb

Debut hour from Jon Long: lapsed Catholic, recovering alcoholic, partially disabled, straight white millennial... oh what does it matter?! He's a planet-killing machine, and so are you! Is it too late? Can we be saved? Do we seriously have to give up straws? Tonnes of big questions and barely any answers from an award-winning comedian and troubadour. Musical Comedy Awards: Audience Favourite, 2016. 'Clever gags and witty songs... delivered with laser-guided timing' (Bruce Dessau, BeyondTheJoke.co.uk).

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