Joz Norris is perpetual Laugh Out London Fringe favourite, always creating joyful shows full of imagination and ideas. He answered our Q&A ahead of this year’s festival.
Hello. How are you today?
I’m not bad thanks. When I’m not doing comedy, I do magic in a kids’ soft-play centre, and today my manager became convinced there was a mouse in the pirate ship who liked Elton John and we needed to kill it so we spent five minutes tip-toeing into the ball pool like Shaggy and Scooby Doo, wafting bits of cheese around and playing Tiny Dancer really loudly, and he kept hissing “Kill it! Kill it!” into my ear and pressing a kitchen knife into my trembling hands to encourage me to do it. So I’ve had a pretty fun day. The mouse got away in the end, luckily.
At this stage, how closely does your programme blurb match the content of your show?
I’m told my programme blurb gives the vague impression I’m doing a show that’s actually about Jason Donovan this year. I’d like to use this platform to categorically confirm that it is not, though he is the catalyst for all the cod-philoshophical musings my brain has entertained itself with this time around. A more honest, concise programme blurb would probably describe it as a show in which an idiot is literally trapped in a giant web for an hour talking about social anxiety, performance and snakes and then turning into a nasty little baby.
Have the momentous events of 2016 affected your comedy in any way?
Yes, it has made me realise that 51% is exactly the same thing as a decisive, overhwelming majority, so from now on all three-star reviews will be interpreted as fives. This has really raised my opinion of my comedy and boosted my self-confidence. Seriously, though, I’ve never been a topical comic so I don’t touch on what happened last year much, but this year I am exploring the idea of using nonsense as a way of approximating or expressing some sort of fundamental, universal feeling that resides inside every head. Maybe if I get close to expressing it properly, everyone will finally put aside their differences and get along, and all wars will end. Come to my show and find out. Oh, also, I’m using “What The World Needs Now Is Love” as walk-on music because IT’S NEVER BEEN TRUER!!!
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 my lovely girlfriend Eleanor Morton, who is also doing a great show about anger and the treatment of women through history. We will help each other survive the month by trying as much as possible to treat the flat as a nice place in which to do nice things and eat nice food, and not a place to stress about our shows. I’m going to try and impose a blanket ban on all complaining and industry huckster-ing within the walls of the flat (most of which would come from me anyway), and that way we’re just living in a nice city for a month having a great time.
Any shows you’re particularly excited about seeing?
Well, of course there’s all the shows by my favourite friends and acts who I love seeing every year – Eleanor, Adam Larter, Ali Brice, Beth Vyse, Lucy Pearman, Marny Godden, Harriet Kemsley, Pat Cahill, Bob Slayer, Will Seaward, Maggie Thatcher Queen of Soho, Michael Brunstrom, John-Luke Roberts, Thom Tuck – but this year I’m particularly excited by the fact that some of my very very favourite Fringe acts are coming back having taken a year or two off – like John Kearns, Luke McQueen and Bec Hill – and there’s debut shows from some great performers who’ve been being quietly brilliant for a long time now and are doing Fringe shows for the first time, people like Andy Barr, Michael Clarke and Grace Gibson.
Other than the great shows, what else are you looking forward to about your trip to Edinburgh this year?
All the networking. I love the networking. It’s one thing to spend a year playing around in different imaginative ways with lots of creative ideas, and it’s one thing to spend a whole month having an amazing time presenting those ideas to lovely, appreciative audiences and all the creative fulfilment that brings, and it’s one thing to see the culmination of a year’s work from loads of other incredibly brilliant, thoughtful, imaginative performers and the beautiful shows they’ve created, but let me tell you, all of that is as nothing to the nights staying up until the small hours drinking in exclusive industry bars and waiting until I see a reviewer or producer I want to impress then pouncing on them and convincing them of how great I am. Nah, seriously, I’m looking forward to going to the Botanical Gardens and getting a nice juice from the greengrocer’s in Morningside.
What celebrity death hit you the hardest in 2016 (mine was Wogan)?
Bowie hit me really hard. I was lying in bed asleep and my housemate Katy opened my door and said “Bowie’s dead” and I writhed on the bed, blinking and feebly crying out “No! No!” Then I went down to the mural in Brixton and watched the news cameras and the gathering crowds and listened to a song on his final album where he says “Thinking more and feeling less, saying no and meaning yes, that is all I ever meant, that’s the message that I sent” and I looked at all the cameras and thought “None of these people get it! He was just a man, and he was here for a while and now he’s gone.” But then I thought to myself – “So what are YOU doing at the mural?”
Prince was sad too, because I used to have a very funny character routine where I dressed up as Prince in little purple hot-pants and a pencil moustache and sang all his hits, and I haven’t really done it since a gang of coked-up bankers tried to beat me up mid-way through doing the routine in a karaoke bar and said “Let’s have some proper music!” before all singing “Angels” by Robbie Williams, but I couldn’t really do it any more even if I wanted to because it would look tasteless.
Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it.
Um ok. Weirdly specific request, but yeah, sure. “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For A New Kind Of Entrepreneur” is a book by Derek Sivers. Here is the book’s blurb:
You can follow the beaten path and call yourself an entrepreneur or you can blaze your own trail and really be one.
When Derek Sivers started CD Baby, he wasn’t planning on building a major business. He was a successful independent musician who just wanted to sell his CDs online. When no one would help him do it, he set out on his own and built an online store from scratch.
He started in 1998 by helping his friends sell their CDs. In 2000, he hired his first employee. Eight years later, he sold CD Baby for $22 million.
Sivers didn’t need a business plan, and neither do you. You don’t need to think big; in fact, it’s better if you don’t. Start with what you have, care about your customers more than yourself, and run your business like you don’t need the money.
I’ve not read the book myself, but it sounds like it’d be really useful for people looking to go into the sort of online music-based start-up sort of thing. It’s 88 pages long and costs $10.99, which I actually think is a bit of a rip-off, but I guess Derek Sivers didn’t get where he is without learning how to drive a hard bargain! Anyway. Bit of a weird request to leave things on, Laugh Out London, but that’s all the information I can find about the book. I’ve attached the cover image for you as well.
The Incredible Joz Norris Locks Himself Inside His Own Show, Then Escapes, Against All the Odds!!
Heroes @ The Hive
3-27 Aug, 7.30pm