When Joz Norris did a Laugh Out London comedy night a few weeks ago, he drank milk from a bag in his boxer shorts.
He’s talking that show up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.
We interviewed him to find out why, and where you can seem him in London as he previews his hour.
Hi Joz. How are things?
Hey Laugh Out London. I’m good thanks. I mean, as I’m writing this I’m actually laid up in bed feeling a bit poorly cos last night I couldn’t sleep and ended up tossing and turning for 8 hours. By the time this goes up, though, I imagine I’ll be full of beans (Ed – Literal beans).
You’re doing a show at Edinburgh this year. Are you looking forward to it?
Immensely! I think the Fringe is a great place for people to showcase their creativity – you get used to seeing comics doing their tried-and-tested club sets in London, but there’s something exciting about the whole Fringe experience because you get to see what they come up with when they’re given free reign to be as creative as they like on their own terms. I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to be far more self-indulgent and self-referential than I can get away with in London.
It’s called ‘Joz Norris Has Gone Missing’ Will you be in it?
Sadly not. My marriage has hit a rocky patch in the last few weeks, and I’m feeling increasingly alienated from my daughter, so I don’t really have the energy or the drive to commit to being a part of the show. Fortunately, I’ve lined up some great acts to fill in for me in my absence – the show’s got a selfish puppet and a spider with ADHD and a screenwriter in leggings and sunglasss to make up for my not being able to take part.
Why did you want to pursue character comedy?
I used to exclusively do stand-up as myself, and I still occasionally go back to being myself, but I think different people’s comic sensibilities lead them in certain directions. There are some people who are able to be utterly surprising and hilarious and original while being fundamentally “themselves,” but I found that most of the ideas I’ve come up with that have actually excited me have come through some sort of narrative or character concept. In a weird way, I find it easier to do something quite honest onstage through a character than through myself, but that’s probably due to some sort of identity crisis I refuse to deal with.
You’ve been to the Fringe before. What’s been your favourite Fringe experience?
My first highlight last year was a night where I had a drunk midnight crowd (usually my audiences were quite civilised) and forgot to tell them I was playing a character in the show, so they just thought I was wilfully being a dickhead (the show was about a deluded comedian who thinks he’s good enough to put on a one-man show but isn’t). After half an hour, they decided they’d had enough and tried to beat me up, so I ran away. Also, I had a whirlwind summer romance and broke into Princes Street Gardens at 5am with a nice girl. Them’s me highlights.
At one of your nights, you drank some milk pretending it was semen. Will that feature in your show?
Absolutely. Personally, I think there are far too many comics who are too afraid to go there. There’s a tragic paucity of drinking semen on the comedy scene, and I’m just trying to do my bit to redress the balance. (I’m actually told that Richard Pryor was pretending to drink semen all the time in his heyday, so if anything my bit’s pretty lazy and hack, really).
Is milk the best semen substitute?
I’m reliably informed by a clinical psychologist friend who used to have to make up batches of fake semen to help children with OCD confront phobias of bodily fluids that the best mixture is milk, cornflour and sugar. But I think at the gig’s I do, nobody’s really looking that closely, so I make do with milk. Nobody’s complained yet (Ed- I have).
You do a podcast with Karl Schultz too. What’s it about and why should I listen to it?
It’s called the What Not Podcast and essentially it’s just the two of us chatting about our lives and our opinions on things. Karl says he didn’t think he would end up being the weird one, but he totally does come across as the weird one. Basically, I’m a sort of idiot child/white empiricist and Karl is a psychopath/3rd world culture fantasist, and I tell stories about embarrassing things that have happened to me and Karl laughs at me. In the latest one, we raised a hypothetical child together to see whether it would end up being maladjusted or not.
You’re previewing in London. When/where can see you?
I’m previewing more or less once a month, mostly at the Camden Head in Camden (on April 22nd, May 20th and June 17th) – there are special guests at each preview including Ben Target, Mark Stephenson, Bec Hill, Tom Goodliffe, Adam Larter, Ali Brice and John Kearns (Ed – We like all of those people), and then a final preview at the Battersea Mess and Music Hall on the 16th July. All the previews are free as well, so there’s no real reason to miss out, cos between me and the guests there’s bound to be at least half an hour of funny stuff at each one.
Listen to the What Not Podcast