Josie Long and Sam Schäfer's Awkward Romance

Josie Long, arguably the highest profile comic on this year’s Free Fringe, and newcomer Sam Schäfer are an odd pairing. Whilst Long wears her awkwardness as geek chic, Schäfer’s hangs from him like unwashed cotton. When she is up, he is down. He deadpans as she lays it on thick. However, they are both, in their own unique ways, idealists and romantics, obsessives with deceptively similar obsessions.

Our theme for the hour is not love – although love is part of it – but romance. For both comics romance seems to be about those moments when people’s weirdness and potential burst out in honest and beautiful ways. During Long’s preamble we are asked to write our most romantic moments, misguided or otherwise, on pieces of paper: a promise that the show’s finale will pierce our anonymity a little bit and find the weirdness hidden amongst us. There are home-made badges for the best ones.

In the meantime, Long ambles through the sort of shambolic inventiveness her sets are famous for, sharing her pessimistic attitude towards romance. Yet, as always, she is brimming with childlike wonder. However this is really a showcase for Schäfer and the longer part of the set goes squarely to the newcomer.

Schäfer receives a deservedly mixed response. The self deprecation that punctuates much of his self-analytical study is monotonous and his storytelling isn’t quite strong enough (yet) to delay the next laugh for as long as he often does. However, when the laughs do come, they are thick, gloopy and full of sugar. Just as Long finds surreal whimsy enveloped in the everyday, Schäfer finds elaborate detail, fixated analysis. A long diversion on The Black Panthers, for example, projects an elaborately essayistic style onto the casualness of a friend’s voice, finding something deeply surreal in its own relentless seriousness.

The show’s joint finale, promised earlier by our hand-written notes, is fascinating, bizarre and touching. It provides material much better suited to Long’s crescendoing enthusiasm than to Schäfer’s downbeat rhythm, but more importantly the misguided eroticisms and touching sentiments remind us that the detail and intrigue that fuels each comic’s set is lurking also in the seats next to our own.

This show is awkward largely because it sells a Sam Schäfer set on a Josie Long ticket. It’s too big a contrast to work comfortably at the moment. However, watch Schäfer closely. One day he might just show you infinity in a homemade badge.

Reviews by Tom Moyser

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

The Girl with the Hurricane Hands (and Other Short Tales of Woe)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

A Tale of Two Cities: Blood for Blood

★★
Traverse Theatre

Breakfast Plays: Tech Will Tear Us Apart (?)

★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

Droll

★★★★
Summerhall

The Castle Builder

★★★
Summerhall

4D Cinema

★★★★★

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
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
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.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Edinburgh award-nominated Josie Long is joined by brilliant newcomer Sam Schäfer to share tales of loves lost, loves won and loves made-up. If you don't come we'll wreck your knees.

Most Popular See More

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets