2013: That Was The Fringe That Was
Posted August 28th 2013
I know it's a bit solipsistic and OTT but I want to talk about the last month. I hope fellow Fringers won't mind me "doing a Karl," but sometimes there is a time for overlong mawkish status updates. But, essentially, I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made the last month so incredible. Last year when I went up to the Fringe I was all on my own and didn't really know many other people who were going up very well, so it was difficult to really feel a part of something bigger. This year, thanks to all the amazing friends I've made over the last year, I have felt a part of several lovely little families up here and it's been incredible. I'd like to thank every single one of them for inspiring me and comforting me and making me laugh. There are far too many to thank individually, though special mention must go to John Kearns. In 2008 I ran up to John in a nightclub, told him he looked like ET, and ran off. Soon after he was one of a few people to encourage me to first start doing comedy. Since then, at every stage of my journey he has been there with support and inspiration and kindness and has done more to help me understand comedy, and myself, than anybody else. A few days ago he won the Best Newcomer Award and I started crying in a baked potato shop when I found out. Thank you to him for everything, and such huge congratulations to him. But he is one of many people who have made this month special, and I owe them all so much for helping me to feel part of something extraordinary.
My show has been an absolute delight to work on. There have been lows and frustrations and obstacles and there have been incredible highs. I'm so proud of the show, I love its silliness and its energy and its heart, but doing it for a month has also made me aware of its limitations and its drawbacks, and has given me a clear idea of what I want to be doing next year (in a nutshell: no more characters, just me trying to make a point for an hour and explain who I am while fragmenting into pieces). I can't wait to work towards this over the next 11 months and push everything I've learned so far towards that new goal. I've had some amazing feedback on the show, with several people telling me it was their favourite show on the Fringe, and am so proud of what I've achieved. Including all my guest spots, shows, cameos, gigs etc, I've done over 60 performances in the last month, including some that rank among the most amazing gigs I've ever done. I've wrestled semi-nude with the Weirdos (which almost resulted in my death), played Manuel from Fawlty Towers in front of a man who plays Manuel from Fawlty Towers for a living, chased children round an igloo and learned how to make children laugh while handing out balloons, wandered round town in that fucking morphsuit for hours every day, hidden on a rooftop completely naked after being chased down an alleyway by an irate chef, eaten a full roast dinner at 2am, tried to do a head-spin on an abrasive carpet with no shirt on and thereby burnt off most of my skin, challenged every critic in Edinburgh to a duel and subsequently received absolutely no response from any of them, been taken through a series of games onstage by Dr Brown in front of 200 people, a process from which I learned more than from any gig or performance I've ever given, dressed up as a mute slave and blown hot steam into Beth Vyse's face, given up sweets and fizzy pop and started tentatively dipping into the world of spirulina and herbal remedies, sung along to the basslines of my entire iPod while simultaneously divulging the tragedies of my love life to Flat 77 while briefly mindless, hit a teacher with a sponge in front of a bunch of bemused tourists on top of a hill, fallen through 20 feet of gorse, performed a double-act I had inadvertently learned the wrong half of to an audience of two, and generally had the time of my life. Thanks to Jamie, Kirsty, Kate and Neil for having me, and to literally everybody for making this month special. Here's to next year.
Now I'm back, once I've had the chance to rest and recuperate a little, I'll be throwing myself into a whole bunch of new projects - the What Not Podcast will be starting back up again within the next few weeks, and I'll also be developing a couple of ideas for webseries, one in collaboration with my brother and perhaps a few celebrity guests. I'll also be starting work on next year's show, tentatively titled "Awkward Prophet," which will be a bit of a stylistic shift of gear for me so is something I'm excited about hurling myself into. Lots of other ideas and new directions and plans, including the return of Hotel Kakistocracy's daftness and perhaps a new experimental clowning night, plus lots of exciting new initiatives from the Weirdos stable, but I'll put more details here as and when they materialise. Thanks again everyone, all the best. xx
I Challenge The Media To A Duel
Posted August 15th 2013
So we're just past the halfway point of the Edinburgh Fringe 2013. It's going well so far, I've had good audiences who have all enjoyed the show, and I'm very proud of the show itself. But it's been proving tricky to get reviewers and critics in, which has a knock-on effect on the Festival's general awareness of the show itself, making it trickier to keep driving people in and making it the success it deserves to be. It's a problem that's affected not just me but lots of other great comics with great shows who have struggled to get reviewers into Free Fringe venues. Well, no longer. I have resorted to desperate measures and, taking influence from the writings of the late great Roberto Bolano, have decided to challenge every comedy critic and reviewer covering the Fringe to a duel on Calton Hill at 12:00 noon on Monday 26th if they don't accept my invitation to come and see the show and review it. I hope they will all do the honourable thing.
My Fringe Recommendations
Posted July 29th 2013
What with all the "Pick of the Fringe" lists and features flying about at the moment, I thought I'd muddy the water even further by assembling a list of my top recommendations for shows at the Fringe this year, not because I'm under any illusion that my recommendation is a particularly useful PR tool for up-and-coming comedians, but mainly as it might be of interest to my non-comedian friends going up to Edinburgh who would like genuine suggestions of shows worth seeing, plus those comedians who are featured can feel the warm glow of pride for getting into my good books. I've tried to limit it to shows that I've seen in previews, or at least seen direct extracts from, as otherwise this list would be even longer than it already is (and it's too long, really). Here are my top suggestions:
Time Out's Top Ten Free Shows at the Fringe
Posted July 26th 2013
Some more lovely news of the Edinburgh PR Variety - Time Out (whose logo is wide and sadly doesn't conform to my "News Post Thumbnails to the Same Scale as Album Covers" theme, which would have upset me, hence my using a picture of me in a cardigan going for a high five) have included "Joz Norris Has Gone Missing" in their list of the Top Ten Free Shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe - I'm very honoured to be in the list, and look forward to doing my best to live up to their expectations! You can read the list here - as well as my show, it features some of the shows I'm most excited about seeing this year, several of which I've already seen advance previews of and can recommend with all sincerity and goodwill. The shows of John Kearns, Adam Larter & Ali Brice, Karl Schultz and Harriet Kemsley & Richard Todd are all well worth seeking out, while Darren Walsh and Hill & Weedon, who are also included on the list, are great comics whose work I enjoy very much, though I haven't seen any previews of their shows this year yet.
At some point I might publish my own list of my top recommendations for the Fringe, if I get a moment, and I'll also shortly be posting a full run-down of just what various projects I've got lined up during my month in Edinburgh so those who are up there but can't make it to my show can still come and see me at some of the other shows I'm a part of. Thanks again to Time Out, and see y'all soon!
Laugh Out London's "Best Free Shows of the Fringe"
Posted July 12th 2013
As ever, a big shout-out to Laugh Out London, who have featured my show "Joz Norris Has Gone Missing" in their Best Free Shows of the Fringe list, which you can read here. The list also features a number of other really talented comics and very exciting Fringe shows, and I can strongly recommend every single one of them to anybody who's on the lookout for great comedy that won't break the bank. Thanks, Laugh Out London, you're in my Top Three UK Comedy Blogs, and we should go for a drink sometime.
Posted June 30th 2013
For those who were unable to be present for the glorious silliness of Weirdos Comedy Club's inaugural Bowie Fest yesterday, devised and curated by the brilliant Adam Larter and Matthew Highton (that's right, inaugural - if they don't bring it back next year then I will), please enjoy this picture of me replicating the cover of "Heroes" while dressed as the Goblin King from Labyrinth, because chronology be damned. I feel it sums up the mood of the day nicely. I got to live out my dream of pretending to be Bowie for a day, and several punters got their picture taken with me as if I were the real thing, including one Italian guy who works at the V&A Exhibit. All I'm saying is that if their staff are fooled by me in a wig then there might be some gaps in that exhibition's knowledge. I also got to out-Bowie Adam Larter, who thought Trent Reznor produced 1. Outside, when as we all know, it was produced by Brian Eno but influenced by Reznor, who also supported Bowie on the tour. Silly Adam. A big congratulations and thank you are due to Adam and Matt and all the Weirdos. Not only that, but Bowie Fest represents the final Weirdos night at the Lion in King's Cross, which is the night's spiritual home. Over the last year, the people at Weirdos have become very dear friends and colleagues, so I'd like to extend a thank you to the Lion for being such a great home to the collective during that time on the occasions that I've had the pleasure to perform there. Here's to continued silliness in the Weirdos' next home, and here's to Bowie Fest 2013.
Fringe Review's Blind Poet Pick
Posted June 21st 2013
Just a quick one, this - firstly, for those who didn't hear the second part of my interview with Tom Wrigglesworth on BBC Radio 4 Extra, you can listen to it here. It covers some similar ground to part one but in more detail, as well as a hilarious gibe at the expense of the geography of Edinburgh.
Secondly, Fringe Review have put together a feature compiling all their top picks and suggestions for Laughing Horse Free Festival shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, and have featured my show "Joz Norris Has Gone Missing" as their top pick for the Blind Poet venue! You can read all their top picks here, and I'd like to extend a big thank you to them for featuring me. Thanks, Fringe Review.
Radio Days and Pictures of Libraries
Posted June 19th 2013
Hey gang, hope you're all well. Sorry I've been a bit quiet on the updates lately, Edinburgh previews have been keeping me a busy boy, plus my best laptop, Snazzy Betsy, is in the repair shop fighting for her life, so all I've had is the old-school crankiness of Clunky Betsy or the asthmatic wheeze of Big Betsy to work with. Anyway, just to let you all know, I was lucky enough to do an interview with the delightful Tom Wrigglesworth on BBC Radio 4 Extra which was broadcast tonight - you can listen to it here. In this first instalment I talk mainly about the aging process, narrowly avoiding being beaten up by my own audience at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012, and Christopher Green's Late at the Library project. The second instalment of the interview will be broadcast on Wednesday 19th June at 22:55 and sees Tom and I discussing my time in prison, my teenage drug habit and my upcoming solo acoustic album. (I think we actually talked about Edinburgh previews and the nature of character comedy, but my memory is hazy).
Speaking of Christopher Green's Library project, you can see some pictures of the event here, taken by Tom Russell. I'm the one in the morphsuit, because as we all know, I simply will not perform unless I'm wearing one. The show was one of the most exciting and innovative projects I've worked on to date, and it was a real pleasure to meet and work with some fantastically talented people, who I look forward to working with again. I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone involved for making it such fun, particularly Chris himself for orchestrating the whole thing. The British Library's Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition, which the event was promoting, is also well worth a look, and the music of Public Service Broadcasting, the night's live band, is also worth your attention. That's all for now I think, peace 'n' that.
Things Are Gonna Get Immersive
Posted May 25th 2013
You alright? Good. I am well. Now that THAT'S out of the way, I'm very pleased to drop in a little bit of exciting news regarding my involvement in a couple of experiential immersive performance pieces being curated, assembled, devised and generally masterminded by Christopher Green, the mind behind last year's huge hit "Office Party" among many other bold and exciting immersive theatre pieces. It's early days yet so I can't really talk much about the extent of my involvement as I'll find out more about that later, but I'm very excited to be involved with something so prestigious and so different from the kind of work I usually do. Very much looking forward to throwing myself into it and learning a lot from the experience.
The first project is a one-off event entitled "Late at the Library: The Party Rules" which functions as a launch event for the new Propaganda exhibition at the British Library. Featuring a performance from Public Service Broadcasting (who my friend Jack keeps telling me I should listen to, so that works out well), as well as a DJ set from Hot Chip, about whom I know nothing, the event will also feature myself and a few others taking the roles of the "Party Police" to keep things in full swing. I won't go into more detail for fear of spoiling it for those who are attending, but it'll be great fun. The event is all sold out, but if you want to know more about it anyway you can find information here.
The second project is something I don't feel I can say anything about at all simply because, based on the little I've heard about it already, anything I say will ruin it or at the very least change the nature of it. Just go to this if you're curious. I'll keep you updated on these projects as they develop!
Joz Norris Has Gone Missing - Trailer
Posted May 11th 2013
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, everybody's favourite Edinburgh-based fringe festival, marches on apace, so I've made this little film as a promo for my show this year, "Joz Norris Has Gone Missing." It charts the breakdown of my marriage to the beautiful Spinks O'Houlihan, and my retreat into obscurity that inevitably ensues. It also gives a sneak peek at just who will be filling in for me while I wallow in self-pity in absentia. Co-starring the wonderful Rachel Hudson as Spinks. Enjoy!