Josie Long: Kindness And Exuberance, Caf&eacute; Royal Fringe Theatre <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Earthy delights
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The Independent Culture

Imagine Amélie as a full-figured 24-year-old from Kent and you'll come close to understanding the charm of Josie Long. Miserablists and cynics beware: this young comedian's sense of fun could beguile you - and if you do succumb, there is a stick-on badge waiting for you as a reward.

This is the first Edinburgh show from Long, a protégée of Stewart Lee (seen lurking at the back of tonight's gig), and it's a delightful introduction. Delight is the key word for this show since it celebrates the small pleasures in life, such as witnessing two bus drivers stop their vehicles to talk to each other about the most mundane things, or driving past a house and catching a glimpse of someone undressing. "They can't touch you for it," Long enthuses in her jovial way.

In the eponymous film, Amélie returned childhood toys to old men, but Long rejoices in treasures found in charity shops ("The tombs of the dead," as she calls them), using the booty she buys as starting points for small sketch stories. After buying a second-hand coat, she notices the name tag of a previous owner and Googles them to try to build up a life story for it. Meanwhile, snow shakers with the owners' names on them lead to some sinister scenarios. Her observations are characterised by strong, distinct voices, of which her most used is a "black mama" - ludicrous, but it's her ludicrousness that makes it work. She's silly without being contrived.

Other reasons for rejoicing for Long, and ultimately for her audience, however sceptical, include her seeing a goth in a suit and imagining how proud he must be that he can loiter on the dark side and still hold a job down at the bank. She's not averse to a few negative observations, either, and rightly joshes people who drink lager on public transport.

Stand-up is often self-referential, and since it is Long's Fringe debut, she mentions her own performances, but isn't apologetic. Where she does ridicule any flaws in her performance, she makes it fly as a routine of its own, pointing out that the word "amateur" comes from the Latin for "lover" and that professional means "bum idiot".

Kindness and Exuberance could be considered childish if it wasn't for the fact that it achieves the magical quality that Long is clearly striving for. As an avowed miserablist and cynic, I still found myself under her spell in what turned out to be a bewitching hour.

To 27 August, except 22 (0131-556 2549)

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