Comedian Josie Long has been making us giggle for as long as she can remember, and with six stand-up comedy tours under her belt knows how to make a crowd howl with laughter.

But with two new films to promote, her career has taken a new direction. So what’s changed?

“Two things really,” she says. “I’ve been a stand-up since I was a teen and I was exhausted, and yet when the tour finishes you don’t have much to show for it. I wanted to capture something that still exists afterwards. And second, I always said I wouldn’t write a film until I had an idea. And then I had a really bad break-up and had to leave someone and start my life again, which meant I had something to say and I wanted to write it all down.”

A massive departure then for a girl who didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve. The results are a coming-of-age story divided into two films, which are loosely autobiographical, about a young girl who runs away to Glasgow to start her life again.

The films Let’s Go Swimming and Romance and Adventure, which were nominated for a BAFTA Scotland New Talent Award, are currently being toured around the UK and coming to the Phoenix Picture House where Josie will introduce her new work herself.

The former Oxford University graduate is delighted to be coming back to Oxford, where it all began. “It was incredible to come from my background, which is not one of privilege, and go to Oxford University. And although it took me years to get used to and could be very intimidating at the beginning, it was incredible,” she remembers.

Studying English at Lady Margaret Hall, Josie still knew that comedy would be her bag afterwards, so did Oxford help?

“I always wanted to go to Oxford and study. I thought it would teach me to be a better writer and meet people my own age because I was the only one of my siblings to get to grammar school.

“I started a comedy society there, did mad gigs at all sorts of venues and got kicked out of lots of them, but I had a great time putting them on. I also took part in the Oxford Review and only got bad reviews, which was perfect practice,” she laughs, “so it was very much my thing even then.”

Josie has been so successful that she hasn’t had a break since, and writing her films gave her a much needed breather, as well as the chance to try something a bit different: “Stand-up is so solitary and comedians are all control freaks, so I’m really enjoying the collaborative experience of writing films with director Doug King,” she says. “We sit down and I tell Doug all my deepest and darkest secrets and we chat about them for a week and then I start writing. And while I’m writing I’m the superboss but then when I’ve finished he is,” she laughs.

So why is she able to write about her experiences of heartbreak for a cinema audience but not share them with her live comedy fans? “It took a long time to process those feelings and I didn’t want to talk about it on stage. I’ve never really talked about my love life in my routines. I’m more political than that and it was too raw at the time.”

But not too raw to put in a film? “The film is more about avoiding dealing with your emotions and the displacement of someone who moves cities and changes her life rather than processing what has happened to her,” Josie explains.

How autobiographical are these films, then? “People who say they don’t write about themselves are transparent through their work, and I think all writing says a lot about you. So while this isn’t an exact experience it means I can use the things that have happened in my life without being really bitter. I didn’t want to do that.”

Presumably then the praise, accolades and applause have helped Josie get over the trauma? “The film is more about loneliness than about a specific break-up but, yes, it helped me to feel better and now, looking back, I realise I’ve really come though that. So it’s been amazing. It’s been a dream because it’s an unusual direction for a comedian to take.”

Does this mean the comedy circuit is now a thing of the past? Josie chuckles at the thought: “For me it’s always going to be about stand-up, until I’m an old lady or I’m dead. But I took a break because I thought I had nothing left to say, yet now I just want to do it again. So ideally I would like to do both. In the meantime I’m touring these films, which is kind of terrifying as well as being really exciting, because with stand-up you can always change the format to get a laugh, but with the films there is nothing you can do. “So I hope people won’t judge them too harshly, because it’s a great evening out, even if it is very personal for me.”


Doug and Josie’s Let’s Go Adventure Tour
 Phoenix cinema, Jericho
Monday, 8pm
Box office: 0871 902 5736