A Fringe regular whose wacky antics snagged him the Comedians’ Choice Award in 2019, Joz Norris’s latest outing reminds us what there is to love about live comedy. In his latest incarnation, Norris prances around onstage—in various states of undress—as a vain, irascible and lovably ridiculous magician. This year he is joined by Ben Taylor, the mischievous techie directing the chaos from behind the scenes. As the show unfolds into further layers of madness, Taylor abandons his tech station and joins his co-star onstage for double-act shenanigans.
For my money, it’s Norris’s magician persona which carries the day. As the show descends into delightful chaos, he manically darts between delivering self-congratulating paeans and berating insubordinate audience members. His raving energy is electrifying. Where lesser shows may begin to flag by the half-way mark, Norris’s ridiculous and almost pitiable persona keeps the show’s momentum up throughout. Delighting us with a stream of crackpot capers, each of his stunts out-weirds the last.
Those on the front row beware—you will not be spared Norris’s fiery attitude and meddling antics. Joz puts a creative spin on audience participation by deploying a mind-reading device with which he broadcasts the ‘thoughts’ of various spectators. As the machine malfunctions, the audience’s thoughts begin to dictate the show, and our magician is left flapping about as proceedings collapse around him and his self-assured façade peels away. One particular scene involving a call from Norris’s bank had the audience in fits.
Norris announces at the outset his intention to control the audience’s thoughts; certainly he had us captive throughout. When he wanted, our magician had the audience in gales of laughter. Likewise he could switch the mood entirely by regaling us with an equally absurd and disarmingly moving tale about, for example, a sausage-less baguette. The audience sits in gripped silence as Norris’s sausage saga wades into introspective and even philosophical territory, before being jolted back into mirth when the next punchline is delivered.
Norris’s humour is a bit of an acquired taste. Though he has honed his craft excellently, his appeal is restricted to those who enjoy silly and off-the-wall humour; I probably wouldn’t take my grandma to see it. However, my fourteen-year-old cousin loved the show, and he is normally tough to please; seeing his father being bellowed at by an irate, trouser-less magician no doubt helped. If you’re into silly, energetic comedy then this show is not to be missed.
Joz Norris, Blink, Pleasance Dome, 20:30 (1hr), 6th-15th, 17th-29th
Image courtesy of Joz Norris