Joz Norris has been a must-see for us at the Edinburgh Fringe for a number of years now for a variety of reasons.
These include the inevitable smile he brings with his warm stage presence (a welcome break from the cynicism and sadness that sometimes fills the city during Fringe time); his natural knack for sharing personal insights in amusing ways that just err on the right side of cringeworthy; and, of course, his zany clothes. So zany.
Undoubtedly all three will feature in this year’s effort, and we anticipate his hour at the Hive with excitement.
Hello. How are you today?
I’m very well, thanks. I’m in bed listening to “Sunshine On Leith” by the Proclaimers, not because this Q&A is about Edinburgh and the song’s also about Edinburgh or anything obvious like that, but just because it’s lovely. “While I’m worth my room on this earth, I will be with you.” That’s really nice, that is.
Are you ready for another month of Edinburgh Fringe action?
Ooh, gosh, yes, absolutely. I mean, “Are you ready?” is a very different question to “Is your show ready?” and I’ll be honest, I am very much answering the former. I mean, the show’s great fun, but it’s not ready per se, there’s all sorts of bits and pieces in it that happen for no clear reason just yet. Just rooting out all the rubbish from your brain and figuring it out as you go along, that’s the nice thing about building shows. The minute the show’s ready it stops being fun. The Fringe is a constant process of getting slightly better than you were five minutes ago. But am I ready? Absolutely. The Fringe is great, no other place you can see so many people being so brilliant at showing everyone what they’ve created. Lovely stuff.
At this stage, how closely does your programme blurb match the content of your show?
The blurb, as ever, is a fairly vague promise followed by some press quotes, because when you have to submit your blurb you’ve got absolutely no idea what the specifics will end up being. So you pin it down to something you can promise – “I’m gonna talk about love and death this year” – and after that, whatever nonsense you come up with is justified.
Somebody dies in the show, and somebody else falls in love, so the blurb’s accurate and how about that for drama? A show with a death in it! How horrible! I think my blurb also promises something about an invention, so that’s in there too. It doesn’t mention The Little Man, who is the best image I’ve ever inserted into a show, so he’ll be a nice surprise for everyone. I’m not telling you what he is.
What are your tips for getting people to see your show?
Last year surprised me, to be honest. I was in a big old cavern of a room, 100 seats if you can imagine such a thing, and despite my relative obscurity in the comedy firmament, I managed to get it pretty full most days. Completely full on occasion. I think the big tip is to have a fun show that people have a nice time watching. Last year’s show was a bit messy and a bit incoherent, but everybody who saw it said it was loads of fun to watch (except for the people who didn’t say that), and I think that’s the kind of thing people want more of.
This year’s is ever so slightly more theatrical, and it’s in a smaller room, so it’ll feel a bit different, but the big trick, as ever, is just to keep it fun. Being back at the Hive helps as well, as it’s my favourite venue with the best programme of acts and the PWYW system used by Heroes of Fringe really encourages audiences to try new, interesting things. Oh, and get those hashtags trending, y’know. Pay for a big banner ad. Grease the wheels of the press machine. All that.
Who are you sharing a flat with this festival and how will you help each other survive the month?
I’m sharing a flat with the Weirdos gang again, a lovely bunch of stupid idiots who I love very much. There’s twinkly Ali Brice and hairy Adam Larter and sassy Beth Vyse and cheeky Gareth Morinan and grumpy Luke Chaproniere, and silly old me.
I reckon the key to a good flatshare in Edinburgh is to be there for one another during the good times and the bad, like that time last year when I poured all Ali’s beer down the sink because he was too drunk, or the time we all popped down that pub with a name that’s something to do with bees to celebrate Ali’s good review. Actually, I was in a really bad mood that day because I think I’d had a duff show, but in theory you’ve gotta be there in the good times and the bad.
Any shows you’re particularly excited about seeing?
All the returning Weirdos, of course, not just the ones I’m living with but also Matthew Highton, Michael Brunstrom, Marny Godden, Eleanor Morton, Pat Cahill, Cassie Atkinson, Maggie Thatcher Queen of Soho, so many more of those goons. But also I’m very excited about some of the fun stuff Bob Slayer’s got going on on the BlundaBus, from his own rambling storytelling shows to Becky Walker’s Mandatory Rest Break, and I’m excited about Spencer Jones’s new show, Holly Burn, Josie Long’s work-in-progress stuff, Stuart Laws, Paul Currie, Eric Lampaert’s show which I have a little cameo in. Loads more. Everybody, I guess. Oh, also I’ll be trying to reprise my month-long Joke from last year at ACMS as often as possible, which is back at the Stand this year.
Other than the great shows, what else are you looking forward to about your trip to Edinburgh this year?
Well, Eleanor (Morton – Joz’s other half) and I will have been together a year by the time the Fringe rolls around, and she grew up in Edinburgh. Last year we hung out lots but we were still all sort of “Ooh, does she like me, will she text back?”, lots of uncertainty and not enough time for her to show me all her favourite childhood haunts.
This year we’re past all that stage so I’m looking forward to being shown more of the actual bits of Edinburgh beyond the Fringe that she knows about and hanging out with her family and stuff. Last time I went up she showed me the museum, which I’ve never visited in four years, so more nice things I’ve overlooked like that would be great. Oh, also last year she bought me a rare David Bowie LP as a present and I lost it in a night-club because I’m stupid, so I’m going to try and find it again.
What’s your topping at The Baked Potato Shop on Cockburn Street?
Vegetable chili. Never even tried anything else from there. I might be missing out on something incredible. But that vegetable chili is just so good.
Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it.
Has anybody listened to the Waterboys? They’re incredible! My big discovery of the last few months. My mum got me a CD of 21 original chart hits from 1989 when I was 12, and one was “Fisherman’s Blues” by the Waterboys and it was great but I never bothered to listen to more. Now I’ve finally taken the plunge and gee! They’re fantastic! “This Is The Sea” is particularly good, it’s about Mike Scott preparing his spirit for the rest of his life. It reminds you in those moments where you get cross and frustrated and you’re always looking over your shoulder that the rest of your life is massive. “That was the river,” he sings in his lovely voice, “and this is the sea.” It’s really wonderful, you should all give it a whirl today. “The Whole Of The Moon” is great too.
Joz Norris: Hello, Goodbye
Heroes @ The Hive
4-28 August, 6.40pm
PWYW or £5 to guarantee entry