It is festival season and that means that in the next month there is so many great comedy festivals to look forward to! This month we are looking at some of the great shows that you can see at the Edinburgh Fringe. So take note because we are going to give you all the information you need for just a handful of some of the great shows happening this year!
Joz Norris: Blink
Location: Pleasance Dome – Jackdome (Venue 23 )
Dates: Aug 3rd-15th, 17th-29th
Price: £12 / Concessions £11
Hello! Tell us about yourself?
Hi! My name’s Joz Norris and I used to be a silly comedian. Then I had to stay in my house for 2 years and realised being silly for a living was a pathetic thing to do with your life. So I retrained as the world’s greatest magician and have been working hard on subjugating all of reality and bending it to my will so I can control the thoughts and dreams of my audience and make sure they never underestimate me again. I think we can all agree that’s a much better thing to be doing in the world.
What’s the name of your show this year?
The show is called Blink. I considered calling it Blunk, Blonk, Blenk and Blank, until I eventually realised that the vowel I was really looking for was I. When you’re as powerful a magician and as cool a dude as me, the best answer is always I.
How did you come up with the name of your show that your taking to the fringe?
I was making this show all about blinking, and was completely stuck for what to call it. Then suddenly, due to a lack of moisture in the air, I had to blink, and that’s when it hit me – I should call the show “Blink”! I realise this is a different origin story for the title than the one I just gave two questions ago, but more fool you guys for asking me more or less the same question twice.
Tell us all about your show!
The show is a sort of absurdist exploration of ego, embarrassment, control and connection. I play this paranoid, megalomaniac magician (the character in which I have been answering the questions up until now), who’s narcissistically determined to regain control over his life by controlling the inner worlds of his audience. He’s convinced he’s the most impressive artiste the world has ever seen, but of course, because I’m an absurdist and this is a comedy show, things happen that wrestle the show out of his control and force him to reconcile with some versions of himself he perhaps wishes didn’t exist. I won’t spoil quite what happens along the way, but suffice to say it involves a smattering of magic, a dash of horror, a pinch of actual honest-to-God philosophy, and a few tablespoons of absolute nonsense.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
Well, I’ve followed the development of Cerys Bradley and Christian Brighty’s shows very closely – Cerys’s because I’m directing it and Christian’s because I happened to see it early in its life, so have been fascinated and excited to see how it’s grown. Both are brilliant acts who’ve really put their heart and soul into debut shows with enormous heart and inventiveness. I love their shows! The shows of my Fringe flatmates are also going to be brilliant – Sam Nicoresti, Ania Magliano and sketch duo Crizards. I also think John-Luke Roberts’ new show is really beautiful and very silly at the same time. That’s barely scratching the surface of a really great year of exciting shows I can’t wait to see.
Have you done the fringe before? What are the key pieces of advice you have been given or would give to new groups or people performing at the fringe.
Many times. My big advice would be to give yourself goals that are entirely within your control. They can be ambitious, sure, but don’t make them reliant on things outside of your influence. Don’t tell yourself “Sell out every day,” because that might not happen. Tell yourself “Have a nice audience every day,” because that’s easy to make happen. Don’t tell yourself “Get a good review in this specific paper.” Tell yourself “Have people I admire say nice things about my show,” because you can make that happen.
Never set perameters for your show that mean someone completely outside of the show to be the deciding factor in whether your show has succeeded or failed in its aims. You want the only person who gets to decide if your show has succeeded or failed to be yourself.
What have been some of your favourite shows to date and why?
The best thing I’ve ever seen at the Fringe was Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson in 2014, which completely rewrote my understanding of what kind of thing it’s possible to explore and achieve in performance. John Kearns’ Sight Gags For Perverts in 2013 holds a special place in my heart, because that Fringe my friend transformed himself from an act nobody was very interested in into a comedy hero through sheer persistence and total self-belief.
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
“Do you reckon the band Chic ever found that free cow they were trying to get rid of?” I love this joke because it got into the Guardian’s Top 10 Jokes of the Fringe in 2019 even though it doesn’t really work written down, and in print it loses the main thing that made it funny in practice, which was that I got so embarrassed by how bad it was that it took me nearly three minutes to tell it, and it ended with a full minute of me capering around the stage to Chic shouting “Free cow!” into the audience’s faces. They didn’t print any of that, they just printed the words themselves, which was very much the worst thing about the gag.
What have been some of the most unique and different comedy shows you have seen this year and why?
I don’t wanna spoil it, but there’s a moment in Ciaran Dowd’s show which I assumed was just a one-off absurdist image, and it was so grotesque and stupid that I laughed like a drain just at that image by itself. Then it turns out, no, he’s actually going to dig into that concept and fill maybe 10 minutes by acting out in excruciating detail how that image would actually play out. It’s horrifying and ridiculous and great, and probably the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a preview so far. Oh, and Jazz Emu’s take on fingerless gloves is truly inspired.
What is the best way to enjoy yourself at the fringe?
Take care of yourself. Listen to what your body wants to do. If it wants to go see more shows, then do it! Seeing all those shows is one of the best things about the Fringe. But if you’re getting tired and run down from all the constant buzz, it’s ok to remove yourself from it for a bit, and go for a walk, or a swim, or a quiet lunch with a friend, or whatever. Be sure to listen to both drives, the drive to be sociable and the drive to be quiet, as it’s important to get the balance right.
The best thing about performing at the fringe?
The opportunity to do a show so many times in a row that the show itself starts to feel like your friend, like a little safe place you can find joy in every day. There’s nothing as lovely as coming up to your favourite bit in a show and getting that warm feeling of “Ooh, I get to show a whole new bunch of people my favourite bit in a minute!”
The most challenging thing about performing at the fringe?
It does take a bit of a toll on your mental health and your self-esteem, sometimes. There’s an enormous pressure to compare yourself to everyone around you, because all of them are doing similar things and trying to get similar results to you, so it feels like a competition. The thing to remember is that everyone might be doing similar things, nobody else is doing quite what you’re doing, so the thing to do is stay focused and just have a nice time with a new audience every day.
What would be your top three items every performer must take to the fringe?
Stapler. Cash (for attending free Fringe shows). Headphones (to be able to be alone and tune out the noise every now and again).
What’s the secret to successful flyering?
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the goal is just to get people to take the flyer. 90% of them will go in the bin if that’s your approach. The goal is to strike up a genuine human connection with another person, and get to know them, and find out what they like and what they’re looking for, and then genuinely communicate to them why they might enjoy the show if you think they would.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
A wizard with a squid’s head, I dream about that guy all the time. That or Derren Brown.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
They can find me @JozNorris on socials, or @JozNorrisComedy on Facebook. And my website is www.joznorris.co.uk if they want a bit more detail.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
I am magic.