Posted December 23rd 2013
It's nearly Christmas, and that means it's nearly time for everybody to enjoy a well-earned break. I'm currently at my uncle's in Northampton and have spent the day eating more cheese than I've eaten in a month (which is either the sign of a good day or a terrible month - I will let you make up your own minds how I see it). It also means, as has now officially become traditional (twice counts as a tradition) that Weirdos Comedy Club has just finished off their annual Christmas show. Most people reading this are probably already well aware of Weirdos and our recent festive extravaganza, but for those not in the know, last year the Chortle Award-nominated collective (who at that stage had not been nominated for a Chortle Award) staged a live version of Steven Spielberg's Hook. Raising more than £4000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital, it was one of the most shambolically and stupidly triumphant comedy events of last Christmas.
This year, to push things further and to capitalise on Hook's success, we staged another stupid, ramshackle alternative comedy pantomime, this time an original piece by chief Weirdos Adam Larter and Matthew Highton entitled The Colonel charting the rise to fame of a celebrated chicken-frying military man. Hook was basically the first thing I did with the Weirdos gang and over the last year it's been an amazing pleasure and privilege to work more and more with them and share in their successes and silliness, and it's been amazing being a part of The Colonel and helping it to be, I think, the best and funniest thing the group has done yet. Despite the fact that a new play about war and chicken has nothing like the mass appeal of a live staging of Hook, we still managed to pull in sell-out audiences that I believe actually outdid last year's, which is a real testament to the hard work of everybody involved, and to just how well the Weirdos bunch have done this year. Even Chortle head honcho Steve Bennett gave Weirdos a lot of praise in his review of the show, saying "It is becoming the closest we have to a modern-day Comic Strip."
Essentially, it's been a tremendous, ludicrous success and has been an absolute delight to work on from start to finish over the last few months, and I can't wait to see what 2014 holds in store for the Weirdos gang. A particularly massive thank you and congratulations are due to Adam and Matt for assembling the whole thing and working tirelessly to make it one of the big comedy events of the festive season, and to Ali Brice, whose performance as the Colonel carried the entire show on his capable shoulders. There's a picture below of them all looking sweet together. Though an equally big thank you is due to everybody, be they cast, crew or audience, who made the show a delight. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Karl and Joz's Over the Top Comedy Christmas Love-In
Posted December 10th 2013
Just a quick note to say a big thank you to everyone, from acts to audience to all the wonderful people helping out behind the scenes, who helped to make last night's bash such a great success. With an audience of about 200, we raised over £2000 and put on a night that's been rapturously received by people. Thanks to all the incredible acts - Pat Cahill, Bec Hill, Lou Sanders, Andrew O'Neill, Joe Lycett, John Kearns, Harry Hill, Liam Williams, Valdemar Pustelnik and Tim Key for all their amazing work, to Luke Chaproniere for his habitual technical wizardry and to Karl Schultz for helping to put it all together. Hopefully the charity bash will be back next year and will be even bigger and more sensational than before. There are a few pictures over on the Photos page, but for now here's a nice little memento of the night. It will be a night I'll remember very fondly, I think.
Festive Christmas Fun
Posted November 27th 2013
Sorry things have been a bit quiet here lately, regular readers (ie. family) - to the casual viewer it may look like I've been doing nothing for a month. I've actually been a very busy bee, but none of the projects I'm working on have reached a point yet where they're in a state of enough completion to share with the world, so I haven't been crowding this blog with updates on them. As the New Year rolls around a number of film projects will hopefully start showing up and I'm also hoping to finally start production on A Savant's Guide to Dating, which now has four scripts written for it and a number of wonderful actors attached. One film project, a mockumentary about superheroes called Behind The Cape, in which I play the villainous Doctor Z, will be available by the end of this week, and there'll be lots more sketches and other fun things in January, I think.
In the meantime, I thought I'd just draw your attention to a few special events coming up over the Christmas season that I'm involved with. Put some, all or none in your diary NOW!
Pluck It Productions Comedy Christmas Bash - I'm very excited to be hosting the Comedy Christmas show for Hollie Ebdon and Luke Chaproniere's Pluck It Productions, featuring an amazing festive lineup including Rich Fulcher, the Grandees, Joe Davies, Gareth Morinan, Rachel Stubbings and Tim Renkow, plus a few more surprises to be announced. The bash will be on Tuesday 3rd December at Apartment 58 in Tottenham Court Road, and you can RSVP here.
Karl and Joz's Over the Top Christmas Love-In - I'll be co-hosting another grand old comedy bash on Monday 9th at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club with Karl Schultz. The theme of the night is "How the hell did they get this lineup?" so we've tried to make it as ridiculous as possible. Currently confirmed are Harry Hill, Tim Key, Bridget Christie, Sara Pascoe, Joe Lycett, John Kearns, Pat Cahill, Bec Hill, Lou Sanders, Liam Williams, Andrew O'Neill and Valdemar Pustelnik, again with more to be confirmed, perhaps, if they get back to us. You can book tickets here.
Finally, there's The Colonel - After the tremendous success of Weirdos Comedy Club's first Christmas production last year, a stage re-enactment of Steven Spielberg's Hook, the gang is back with a new original production telling the story of one of history's greatest heroes and the journey of how he came to be the man we all know and love. There's lots of war and chicken in it, and it features a cast of the best new alternative comics around, including Ali Brice, Matthew Highton, Beth Vyse, Marny Godden, Pat Cahill, John Kearns, Joe Davies, Mark Stephenson, Stuart Laws, Gareth Morinan, Adam Larter, Liberty Hodes, Mark Dean Quinn, Chris Boyd, Thom Meek, Jack De'Ath and many more. It runs from the 16th-20th December (not the 19th) at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club and tickets can be purchased here.
Joz Norris Has Been Found
Posted October 30th 2013
People lose their cats all the time, and every time I see a poster spouting on about the fact that another one's gone and disappeared, I get very upset because I have a lot of excess empathy and I don't know what to do with it. But it's very rare that a cat owner will be thoughtful enough to put up a poster saying their cat has been found, which means I'm wandering around with quarter of a century's worth of pent-up angst from not knowing if any of the cats I'm worried about ever found their owners. Well, not me. I'm here to tell you all officially that Joz Norris has been found and returned home safe and well after officially putting his 2013 Edinburgh show Joz Norris Has Gone Missing to bed.
I gave my final (for the foreseeable future) performance of the show on Monday as a double bill with the wonderful Mark Stephenson (a bunch of my French students from work came along and were confounded by his accent, thinking he was claiming that he worked inside something called a Canary Wolf) and it was a really lovely, energetic and fun performance to bow out on. I was surprised by how much I missed the show having not performed any of it for two months, and it was fun coming back to it, but now it's time to draw a line under it and move onto the next thing, which is a show about me called Awkward Prophet involving lots of Marvin Gaye and Nick Cave and a cool bit about a horse called Boss John. I'd like to say a quick thank you to everybody who's been a great support to both me and the show over the last year, either by their direct input into it, coming to see it, double billing with me during previews, keeping me sane and very happy in Edinburgh, or just being a great friend while I put my heart and soul into the show for a whole year. An especially big thank you to Hollie Ebdon, who's done wonders, and Matthew Highton, who more or less directed the thing.
Awkward Prophet will have its first (probably rather tentative and shaky) preview performance on Monday 11th November at the Camden Head, free of entry and as a double bill with Karl Schultz's new show, which I think is going to be called Boxer Schultz or something like that. After that, the first professional outings for the thing will be at the Words With Edge Festival in East Ham in January and at Dave's Leicester Comedy Festival in February, then Theatre Fest West in April and on to Edinburgh from there. I'm also currently negotiating a special "educational" performance of the show in association with the Laurence Sterne Trust in January, which gives me a couple of months to work out how exactly to be educative and funny at the same time.
Before all that, November is mostly given over to filming for various projects so there'll be a bit of a scaling back on live gigs for a few weeks. Yesterday I was very excited to be filming on my first commercial, which was great fun. Sometimes there are funny confidentiality issues with things like that, so I feel I'd best wait until it's been broadcast before I say what it is in case I get into trouble, but it was a great opportunity to spend a day working with some lovely and talented people. There's a few other filming projects over the next few weeks (including, hopefully, the filming of the first batch of episodes for my A Savant's Guide to Dating webseries in early December, which I can hopefully start releasing in the New Year), then December will involve a couple of special projects - a big comedy Christmas bash at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club on Monday 9th hosted by Karl and myself that will be raising money for charity and already features the likes of Harry Hill, John Kearns, Sara Pascoe and Joe Lycett on the bill, with more to be confirmed. Then there's Weirdos Comedy Club's new annual Christmas show The Colonel, written by Adam Larter and Matthew Highton, which is a KFC Origins story charting Colonel Sanders' rise through the military. It'll have all the stupidity and colour and fun of 2012's Hook but without as much slavish, devoted adherence to a classic of 90s cinema, and it's also at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club from Monday 16th to Friday 20th (no performance on the 19th). Watch this space for more news on all the above.
BBC New Comedian Heat and Some Other Stuff
Posted October 23rd 2013
Quick, you don't have much time! There's only three more days to listen to me performing on the radio for the BBC's annual New Comedian Award - you can listen to it here. It's the third (and final) time I've entered the competition and been lucky enough to reach the live heats, and though I didn't go through I felt this year I didn't make any half-hearted concessions to its being a competition but stuck to doing material I really enjoyed and to being the kind of comic I enjoy being, and though it might not have got me through on the day, I got a lot of very nice praise from the judges afterwards. Of course, listening back to it, especially in a format you know thousands of other people are listening to, is a weird experience and the pressue of it means you notice little things - there are certain moments I wish I'd done better, but then I'm my own worst critic. I think it comes across pretty well though, so I hope you all enjoy it.
In other news, I'm very excited to have been cast as one of the principal actors for a new series of comedy sketches being produced by Off Key Creative, which we'll be filming weekly. It's early days for the project at the moment, but the ideas we played around with in the audition were really funny so I'm looking forward to working on them further. Also, in a couple of weeks I'll be back in Maidstone filming for a superhero-themed mockumentary from the team behind Punchlines earlier this year. I'll be playing the main villain, which sounds like a lot of fun. As ever, I'll updatr you all with more news as and when it reaches me.
Joz Norris's Fight Club
Posted October 21st 2013
I made a silly little sketch about Fight Club. I hope you all enjoy it. Also, afterwards are all ten rules of Fight Club, because the film only gives you the first one. Took me ages to hunt them all down, but they make for interesting reading.
1. Don't tell anybody about Fight Club.
2. Membership fees are to be paid in monthly instalments to our administrator Darren.
3. Meetings take place every Wednesday on the basement level of the multi-storey car park at 22:00. Latecomers will not be admitted.
4. No swearing.
5. No drinking wine.
6. No making fun of Meatloaf's breasts.
7. DO NOT MENTION THE FACT THAT TYLER IS IMAGINARY.
8. As many people as possible should stay behind afterwards to help clear up and put away chairs.
9. Try not to kill anyone - it's not called Kill Club. And above all...
10. HAVE FUN!!! Fight Club is all about fun.
These rules were written and compiled by Edward Norton, ERRRRR I MEAN Tyler Durden.
Clowning With Doctor Brown-ing
Posted October 6th 2013
Firstly, for anybody who missed my stint on Hatty Ashdown's Silly Radio Show on Croydon Radio yesterday, you can listen again here - if you fancy hearing me chat with Hatty and Darren Maskell about the Edinburgh Fringe, the new dating webseries and Sting's new album then give it a listen, there's lots of jolly banter and Christmas songs. The big news this week is that on Friday I completed a three-day clowning course with Phil Burgers, aka Dr Brown. It'll be a long time before the significance of what I learned from him in those three brief days really sinks in and becomes clear, but it's already had a significant effect on the way my brain approaches the idea of performance and I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him before he heads back to LA, and I would like to extend an enormous thank you to him for his incredible insight and support.
I first became aware of his clowning courses this time last year when my good friend John Kearns did it and spoke highly of the new avenues it had opened up for him. Over the last year I've gradually been trying to get more involved in the world of clowning as the sensitivity and spirit and spontaneity of it is something that I feel has benefited my comedy hugely since I've tried to work on it more. The first thing I learned from this week's workshop was that you can do as much preparation and research into clowning as you like, but when you're thrust into it and made to really try to search for your own pleasure in being stupid and following your impulses, it all counts for nothing, so I really was starting from scratch. It's a really tough process to look inside yourself and try to break out of your own head and discover something new, especially when you've learned such an ingrained method of how to be funny, but despite reaching some monstrous lows of being truly terrible, I feel I really did discover a new way of performing and of being sensitive to what an audience wants from you and where they want you to go. It's very early days and it will take time for me to really become comfortable with all the new techniques and ideas I learned, but it's already been one of the most valuable experiences of my life. I had a gig at the delightful Laugh Out London the day I finished the course (big shout-out to Laugh Out London) and tried to perform some clowning ideas before moving onto my stand-up stuff but trying to do with all the sensitivity that Phil tried to instil in us, and it was honestly one of the best gigs of my life. I felt my brain working in sync with an audience in a really new and exciting way, and hopefully this course will be the starting point of an ongoing journey to keep finding new things and being more open to my impulses. Who knows where it'll lead me? But it's been an amazing few days and I'd like to say a big thank you and congratulations to all my fellow clowns on the course, and an especially big thank you to Phil for his amazing and inspirational teaching. And by the by, another big thank you to my adopted clown family for helping to guide me down this road over the last six months or so, as it's informed and moulded my approach to comedy in such an exciting way and had led me to some amazing discoveries. Thanks all. Here's a picture of all of us playing silly football in Soho Square with Dr Brown - I'm the one in the white dress and the fur hat:
Norwich, Blueprint, Dating, And More!!!
Posted October 1st 2013
I haven't discussed my new health kick in detail here. But honestly, my physical and spiritual wellbeing are through the roof since the Fringe. I've felt sad only twice in the last month (both for relatively poor reasons, admittedly), and I lay credit for that largely down to the fact that I'm trying very hard to give up sugar (don't miss sweets at all, do miss fizzy pop and am finding it a struggle) and have been replacing it with these herbal pills. So I'm feeling champion, and have been using my month since the Fringe to be as productive as possible, to start actively working on a number of projects I've been incubating for a long time and to start getting my brain in gear for next year's show by gigging as much as possible, seeing as my ideas for what I want that show to be involve shifting into a new way of thinking ever so slightly. All feels like it's going well so far. Oh, and I've been eating a lot of salads and the other day I even ate fish and liked it. Anyway, I thought I'd update all you loyal fans with the latest on a few things of more immediate relevance.
Assorted Upcoming Projects Roundup
Posted September 11th 2013
I hadn't realised it was 9/11 until I started writing this post and noticed the date above, and now I feel small and humble. Do yourself a favour and listen to Bruce Springsteen's The Rising sometime today, it's by far the best artistic response to a terrorist attack ever. Anyway, I thought I'd do a quick roundup of some of the major projects I'll be working on over the coming months to keep everyone in the loop. While I was in Paris I took the opportunity to pull together all the fragments of ideas I've been working on since the end of Edinburgh and found to my pleasant surprise that they already seem to fit into a rather fun and interesting more-or-less coherent whole. It'll need lots of work over the coming year, but I already have the bare bones of a new solo show tentatively titled Awkward Prophet, so I'll be starting previews of the show in November if you want to come and see what sort of direction I'll be moving in. I'll also hopefully be performing Joz Norris Has Gone Missing in London at least once as a sort of showcase of what the final finished product was by the end of the Fringe - details of venues and dates are to be confirmed, but do come along if you want to see what I was up to for the month of August!
The What Not Podcast will be starting up again this weekend after a long hiatus, and will be changing ever so slightly to be shorter, leaner and more to-the-point while hopefully maintaining all the daftness and fun of its former self. Hopefully episodes will be available the same day as recording, so there might be a new episode on Sunday, but if not then it shouldn't be long afterwards. I'll also be working on a few more writing ideas for TV and online, but these are in the very early stages of planning and drafting, so more on those another time. More certain are a couple of special gigs coming up at the end of September. Firstly, on September 28th Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club, the club where myself and a few other heavy players in the comedy world first cut our teeth, will be returning to its spiritual home of Norwich for a one-off show as part of the University of East Anglia's 50th Anniversary celebrations. The show will feature John Kearns (Foster's Best Newcomer 2013), Pat Cahill (Chortle Best Newcomer 2012) and myself ("The kind of cheeky grin that must have been a hit with the dinnerladies" - London is Funny) and will be a lovely opportunity to see some of Norwich's finest comedy alumni (and yes, I do include myself in that) back in the comforting bosom of the place where they started, so if you're in Norwich then book your tickets now! You can book tickets and find more information here. Then the following day, back in sunny London, sees the launch of a brand new project called Blueprint from everybody's favourite bunch of idiots, the Weirdos. After last year's sellout production of Steven Spielberg's Hook, Chief Weirdo Adam Larter has been searching for ways to keep things fresh and fun and exciting and, while I'm not at liberty to discuss any of the surprises in store with Blueprint, it should be a fun and refreshing alternative to your regular comedy night and promises to be great fun. I'd like to say more. But I won't. Tickets are available here. Finally, this coming Tuesday I'll be competing in the London heat of the BBC Radio 2 New Comedian Award. This is the third time I've been part of the competition (and therefore I'm pushing the connotations of the word "new" to the limit), but I feel over the last year I've learned a huge amount about how to be funny, and just what makes my brain funny in the first place, so I'm confident that however things turn out I can go there and do the very best I can and do myself proud. Unless something goes horribly wrong, of course, which it might, you can't be sure about these things. But I'll let you all know how it goes in due time.
Oh, yes - once again, due to the specific nature of the show, I'm not at liberty to say anything about it. But if you like immersive theatre and experiential performance, then why not come to this? I'm going. I also might be uploading a couple of very old sketches I found the other day which I never did anything with due to technical difficulties, but they still make me chuckle and I'm unlikely to find the time to refilm them any time soon, so I might put them up for posterity. Watch this space. I'll also have news soon on the potential return of Hotel Kakistocracy. Details to follow. Peace and faith and love.
A Savant's Guide to Paris
Posted September 9th 2013
Hello everyone. I've just got back from a brief work-related jaunt to Paris, where I wandered around and ate a lot of bread and wrote pretty much an hour-long new show, and was just generally inspired a fair bit. Below is a brief sketch/vlog/travelogue summing up a few of my more disingenuous and cynical thoughts on Paris during my stay. I'm trying to move my comedy this year into vaguely more anecdotal and personal territory as well as trying to keep the silliness and unpredictability of this year, so hopefully the spirit of this vlog is something I'll build on over the coming months. Enjoy!