60 Minutes After Feeling Sad At VAULT Festival
I'm very nervous about this, but I'm finally allowed to announce the next live thing I'm putting together.
Something happened to my brain and my own approach to live performance over the last two years. I became less and less interested in the idea of being a comedian standing in front of a room full of people telling them about myself and what I thought about things. I started finding the environment of a live "comedy" show, whatever that word means, which I increasingly think is very little, very combative and intimidating. For the last two years I tried to make shows that did impressions of comedy shows while actually taking steps towards something more theatrical that I found more interesting - a comedy show performed from inside a box, a comedy show performed from inside a web. I found that I enjoyed those structural, theatrical flourishes more than I enjoyed the jokes and routines I was writing. I loved both shows, but I got home this year exhausted and on some level frustrated by having spent every day going "Hi, I'm Joz Norris, welcome to my show, let me tell you what I've been thinking about this year."
I think I needed something to nudge me in the right direction, and my brother had been urging me to make a theatre piece for years. So this year that's what I'm doing, and he's helping me produce it. I've written a theatrical monologue that isn't quite a play, and certainly isn't a stand-up show, but exists in a space somewhere between "theatre" and "comedy," two words which I think are basically unhelpful. It's a show that doesn't acknowledge itself as a show or a performance, that tells a story about a character and exists in its own imagined, fictional space onstage rather than constantly addressing its own existence in the way comedy does, and that's a space I want to explore more. It's still very funny, and silly, and playful, I hope, but the sheer act of writing something to occupy a different imaginary space and to take my own way of telling stories and expressing ideas in a different direction has done wonders for my confidence in my writing and my own attitude to what I want to do.
I will almost certainly come back to doing proper comedy shows, because I love doing them and I've been doing them for five years. But this year I wanted to do something different, and this is that thing. It's about sadness and happiness, and where one goes and the other comes from, and it's about communication between lonely people with nothing to do.
It's on at VAULT Festival on the 2nd February, and after that I don't know what I'll do with it. I hope I'll do lots with it. I hope you all come, I'm really excited and scared about it.
(PS This is not real artwork. This is just so there's a picture to go with this long, boring post)