Joz Norris – Edinburgh Fringe review

The indefatigable Joz Norris scrapes a win after an awful start

Joz Norris

From the chaotic but inventive “Weirdos” collective of comics comes the chaotic but inventive Joz Norris, with three strange characters and the sort of cheeky grin that was probably a hit with the dinnerladies.

The characters – Mr Gumbo, Rosco and Matt Fisher – are filling in for the “missing” Norris, who scrapes a win with this show, despite a dicey start where he begins with by far his weakest character, and despite a dicey end where he pretty much forces a girl to let him kiss her on the cheek when it’s plainly awkward and not necessary to anything.

Just as prominent as the characters are the bits in-between, which Norris seems to thrive on. He dwells on the clumsy costume changes, flags up his (bad) jokes from half a mile off and points out the silences, letting them linger on the palette. Just the sort of thing you can expect from a comic that pitches themselves against mainstream comedy, so in itself a bit hack.

Mr Gumbo is first up, a superhero in Spandex, and is every bit the “joke that’s wearing thin” that Norris says it is. Things pick up a little with the spider that became a boy, Rosco, who doesn’t initially appear to have any arachnid characteristics (tank top, bow tie, just the four limbs) – he’s still playing mainly off cheerful amateurism but there’s some energy in the room now. The first good routines arrive with the movie star who’s not a movie star Matt Fisher, who was the subject of Norris’s full hour in 2012, hence why it’s the strongest of the lot. I enjoyed his house buying/internet dating combo and his straplines without a film. The one bit I really loved was where he runs around the venue thirstily drinking from people’s pints, only to have to do a second apologetic circuit.

There are some really duff moments that needed to be culled, and quick, such as getting a punter to act out the voicemails that Norris has left while apparently missing (this is to cover for a costume changes). There’s also padding. This has to be an hour that’s been written up to, not edited down to.

But he really had me and the room charmed by the end. He performs with indefatigable gusto and not a trace of pretension. Had he not started with a new character (rookie error) he wouldn’t have had to work so hard for our affections. And if he could ramp up the quality moments of silliness and not lay on the anti-comedy stuff quite so thick, he could really have something.

3 stars


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