A very Happy New Year to all of you! May 2014 be a year that brings you all you want or wish for or desire. I saw in the start of the New Year in time-honoured fashion, by repeatedly telling the same woman that we should kiss "because it would be interesting," for over an hour. If she's reading this, then I apologise. Vodka has been vehemently struck off my "Things I'm Allowed to Take Lightly in 2014" list. I hope you all had fun celebrating Christmas with loved ones and seeing in this new year wherever you were.
I feel that the New Year is the best (and only socially acceptable) time to do a bit of looking backwards and forwards, so this blog is largely to take stock of 2013, and the next one will be anticipating some of the bigger things I know that 2014 has in store. It'll probably be a pretty cool and interesting blog, if you like that kind of thing. So, here we go:
Taking Stock of 2013:
1. Getting Demonstrably Better - From 2011 to 2012, I was a wide-eyed and starstruck newcomer to the world of comedy. I'd done a fair bit of stand-up at uni alongside my fellow UEA cohorts John Kearns, Jon Brittain, Tom Moran and Scott Brown, all of whom have gone on to achieve great things as either comedians, writers or in Scott's case, running a theatre all by himself. But the actual experience of really trying to make something of oneself in comedy, as part of the London circuit, was a very different one indeed, and it took me a long time to really feel out what I was doing. I'm still feeling that out today, and if I ever got to the point that I felt like I'd got it sussed, I think I'd feel like I'd missed the point of what comedy is all about, which I think inherently has some element of exploration within it.
2013 has done a huge amount for my own sense of where I'm going and what it is I'm capable of doing. I spent most of the year doing character stuff as I was working on a character show called Joz Norris Has Gone Missing, and through that work met a huge number of people who have become great friends and helped me to grow as a performer and to discover more about what I can do. In April I was delighted to sign with the wonderful Hollie Ebdon at Mike Leigh Associates, something which I'm enormously grateful for and humbled by still, and which has really helped me to take what I do more seriously and to have as much faith in myself as is reasonable and bearable to others. After Edinburgh in particular, after I decided to shift my focus back onto doing stand-up as myself and away from character stuff, I feel I've learned things about myself that have helped me to really understand how to do the best I can, and I also feel that this year has helped me to earn the respect and friendship of a number of other amazingly talented and brilliant established acts. I hope in 2014 that I can capitalise on this greater sense of knowing where I'm going and what I'm capable of and achieve even greater things.
2. Clowning - Clowning is very much in vogue at the moment, and something of a buzzword among young comics. John Kearns first made me aware of Dr Brown's clowning course when he did it back in 2012, and in early 2013 I discovered an amazing community of comics and performers who had studied that whole world extensively, and felt very privileged to be allowed to become part of their lovely and bizarre little community. The whole clowning thing is an interesting one, and I know great comics who really don't get on well with its principles, and others who swear by them. I'm aware that I'm perhaps not fully attuned enough to that world to ever doing something that's purely clown-based, but I've found a lot of its principles and, even more so, its spirit, hugely transformational for the kind of stuff I've been writing and performing, and am very grateful for the effect it's had on me as a comic.
3. Edinburgh - I did Edinburgh for the first time in 2012, taking up a show called Joz Norris is Matt Fisher: Uberperson for a ten-day run in a gruelling midnight slot. While looking back I can see lots of things in that show I would do differently now, I was proud of it and it helped to introduce me to a number of great friends. Last year, my first show to go up to Edinburgh for the full run, Joz Norris Has Gone Missing, was a really amazing and challenging and exciting thing to work on. I was delighted that it was chosen as one of Time Out's Top Ten Free Shows of the Fringe, one of Laugh Out London's Picks of the Free Fringe, and as Fringe Review's top pick for the venue. While there were plenty of challenges to overcome, and again it's a show I can see the limitations of looking back, I was really proud of it and being really immersed in the world of the Edinburgh Fringe for a full month has driven me all the more to push myself and to work all the harder in the coming year.
4. Acting and the Like - After pretty much immersing myself solely in the world of live stand-up in 2011 and 12, 2013 gave me the opportunity to go back to acting and to do different kinds of work for a while. I was the host of an online panel show for UCA Maidstone and a panel member for another on The People's Voice, the latter of which will hopefully be continuing on in the New Year. I also had the opportunity to be involved in a couple of really fun and fascinating immersive theatre projects by Christopher Green - the fascist dictatorship send-up of "Late at the Library: The Party Rules" at the British Library and the brilliantly innovative "This Show Has No Name" at the London Wonderground. Finally, I was also one half of the What Not Comedy Podcast for a while, and the podcast format is something I may come back to this year, if I can come up with a decent enough format and the time to commit to it.
5. Christmas - Christmas 2013 offered up a number of amazing comedy treats that warrant a quick mention - firstly the charity comedy gala I co-hosted with Karl Schultz that featured a stellar lineup including Harry Hill and Tim Key. The bash was chosen as Time Out's No. 1 Critic's Choice comedy event for the week, and sold out, playing to a packed-out crowd of over 200 and raised over £2000 for charity. Shortly afterwards Weirdos Comedy Club staged their alternative comedy pantomime The Colonel, which sold even better than the previous year's live staging of Steven Spielberg's Hook and ended up being, in my opinion, the best thing that that particular band of idiots and geniuses has put together to date, and something everybody involved should be hugely proud of.