And here's Part 2, in which I outline the projects I'll be working on in 2019:
1. TV, Radio & Development Stuff. As with last year, my principle focus this year is on trying to get some TV, film, radio and online ideas developed and pitched in the hope that one of them happens to be the right idea at the right time and gets a commission so I can actually make it. I made really good strides in this in 2018 and pitched a bunch of ideas and learned a lot and definitely improved my writing and my approach to this side of things, and I'm hoping to build on it a lot this year. As before, I'm not going to give away too much of what it is I'm working on, but essentially there's a couple of long-form sitcoms in the mix (one about social anxiety, one about outsider culture), some more mid-form ideas I'm pitching in the New Year (something about the gig economy), a radio thing about guilty liberals, the thing I was already working on last year about robots, and maybe a couple of other bits too. As before, if one or even two of them see significant progress in 2019 I'd be absolutely delighted. I've made this into a separate entry from:
2. Ed & Joz. ...even though the main focus of mine and Ed's stuff at the moment is also on trying to get something commissioned, whether that's for online, radio, TV, and so on. However, there are now multiple strands to quite what me and Ed do, so I thought our output deserved a separate point. We recently released our second short, our prosaic take on The Da Vinci Code, and will be releasing our third soon, a take on the heist movie genre sponsored by Tiger Aspect. Now we've got some really talented and brilliant people on-board with helping us make stuff we're hoping that'll lead to some movement on our other TV ideas. Whether that's on our thing about the Apocalypse, or our sitcom about some monks working in a post office, I don't know. If none of them pay off we'll probably end up making another film sometime this year, and we're also hoping to take a live sketch show up to the Fringe as a double act in which we present live versions of all the ideas we've had to cut from our film output so far, like "Ed Talks To Birds" or "Joz And Ed Get Stuck In A Door" or "Where's Ed?"
3. Joz Norris Is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad. A new live show. This will be a developed version of the work-in-progress show I did for 3 nights at the Fringe this year, which several people said was my best work so far, and which a few people called one of the best shows of the Fringe. I'm really hoping to hone the daftness and silliness of it, but also its sincerity and its determination to say something I really mean. It'll be premiering at VAULT Festival at the end of January, where it will co-star the amazing Ben Target, then it's playing at Leicester, Glasgow and Bath Comedy Festivals, and then there'll probably be a few more London previews before its Fringe run.
4. The Mr Fruit Salad Therapy Tapes. I've always said that, despite the popularity and ubiquity of the format, I'm not going to make a podcast unless I have an idea that I think really uses the format in an interesting way to do something vaguely original. I finally had that idea this year and have laid the groundwork for a new podcast co-authored by myself and Elise Bramich and co-starring Alison Thea-Skot and Andy Barr, which explores therapy, self-care and mental-health via a convoluted meta-textual murder mystery palimpsest narrative. I've got hopes that we might be able to make it professionally for a proper broadcaster, but am waiting for some response on that, so if not then early in 2019 we'll just start recording it ourselves and putting it wherever people put podcasts. Either way, I've spent some money on some promo shots for it now, so it'll be happening one way or the other.
5. A Big Short Film Project. Myself and my dear pal, the excellent writer Emily Richards, co-wrote something this year which is my favourite thing I've ever written. It was intended to be a sort of narrative comedy-drama about identity and friendships and anxiety and disguise and how hard it is to tell people you care about them, and the lengths you go to to try and imply it. We've realised that what we've written is not in fact a narrative episodic thing, but an idea for an actual film, so this year I'm going to make it as a short and submit it to festivals and try to secure funding to one day make it into the feature we imagine it to be. I've been finding my feet in the world of filmmaking over the last couple of years and have had some modest success at a few festivals both nationally and internationally, and I think it's time I invested a bit of money into making a short film on a grander scale and really putting a game-plan together for how to tell a bigger story on a bigger canvas than before. I think this script will be my jumping-off point for that journey, and I'm excited to get working on it. I hope we will at least film it in 2019, and then hopefully get it ready for festivals and so on the year after.
6. Other Independent Film/Online Projects. As usual, alongside the film and online bits I'm hoping to make with a proper budget behind them and a proper development/production team, I'm hoping to remain as committed as ever to making independent stuff to just put out online, as I think making things is its own reward. As I mentioned in the previous entry, there's a third Jonathan Spooky short coming out, and me and Matt and Eric Lampaert have plans to make some more daft sketches together. I'll also be collaborating with Roxy Dunn on a webseries based on the characters we played in her play Timmy at the Fringe last year, and I still want to make that horror film about sneezing that Lucy Pearman and I came up with. Fingers crossed I'll get round to all this and more in 2019.
7. Weirdos & ACMS. Just the usual. Nice to have fun with imaginative silly people. I remain ever-present in terms of my commitment to these groups of idiots, and whatever daft thing they want to work on, hopefully I'll aim to be a part of. Oh, also, I think the ACMS DVD might be coming out this year and that was really fun to record and should be good.
8. Acting??!!?! Again, the usual. I put this here every year. One year it'll pay off and I'll get the role of my dreams. Just gotta make sure the dream goblins read this.
9. A New Way Of Working/Interesting Live Projects. As usual, I'm ending with a renewal of my commitment to only focus on live performance on terms I'm comfortable with. This year I learned that live performance makes me feel very bad in terms of anxiety, and I only enjoy it when I'm able to control certain elements of it, whether that's removing the slightly competitive, adversarial elements that come from a lot of club gigs by focusing more on unusual experimental projects like Tone of Voice or Terrible Wonderful Adaptations, or just by exercising direct control over how the audience perceives me by wearing a fake beard and sunglasses. I'm going to continue to concentrate mostly on unusual live projects and gigs I know I can have fun at and that have lovely audiences, and to not pressure myself to perform at gigs where I worry I might feel uncomfortable. I'm also going to prepare my new live show following a different process whereby I don't build the show out of little segments I workshop at work-in-progress gigs, but I prepare the show as an independent entity that fully explores or inhabits an idea, and I only share it at full preview performances where the show in its entirety is shared, wherever it's at at that point in time. I'd like to stop thinking of shows as collections of routines or bits of material, and start thinking of them as more complete, independent things than that and work on them as if they were theatre shows. I think that will create more interesting work from me. So we'll see how that goes.
And that's it! See you all in 2020 to see how I did.