Some shows have titles that make you want to watch them straight away, and Joz Norris’s “The Incredible Joz Norris Locks Himself Inside His Own Show, Then Escapes, Against All The Odds!!” is such a thing, it doesn’t really tell you anything about it other than it’s pretty likely to be a slice of unusual comedy the likes of which you haven’t seen before, and that does apply (and then some) to this fantastic set which made me laugh a lot.
As mentioned in yesterday’s Rob Kemp review as fond as I am of storytelling shows, or ones that are gag after gag after gag, I have to confess to leaning towards comedy that is bizarre, surreal or just plain strange these days as I’ve seen so much of the former. Norris definitely falls in to the latter category and this is made pretty clear from the get go where he takes to the stage partially dressed as a baby and plays a game of peekaboo with the audience. He also spends a lot of the hour walking about tying string around the stage, and the pay off to this is a gorgeously funny one.
It’s not all oddness though, Norris is also a strong joke writer, unlike some of the stranger comedy around he’s got a talent for making throwaway gags seem very funny, like his routine about the “Guess how many sweets” games you get at fetes, and how if you get it right it means you’re definitely on the spectrum. Also impressive is material about his theory on two head turtles, how snakes may commit suicide, and what it’s like to work as a magician (and occasional balloon maker) for children when you just so happen to be a rather shy individual.
There are occasional hints of an overall theme as he talks about his home life, but such tales are nearly always surreal, such as the names of his mother’s pets, how losing a football boot effected him, and why as a kid he had three hundred and fifty mouldy sandwiches hidden in his wardrobe, along with a great routine about how he came from a broken family and what would happen when he stayed with his father at weekends. But the majority of the set is unconnected tales or random thoughts, all of which are beautifully funny, the best of which involve a festival where both Chesney Hawkes and Jason Donovan performed, the only way you get away with reading Lolita in public, and the nature of his name and why it was chosen for him.
The show also contains a truly memorable ending, the kind of which I’m pretty sure you won’t ever see anywhere else, and it’s no surprise that the audience applaud and cheer a great deal at the end. Norris is an enormously accomplished comedian and on the strength of this alone I’m now a fully paid up member of his fan club, and hope that NextUp go on to film all of his future shows as given the type of comedy he performs they’re all but guaranteed to be quite, quite unique, and I for one can’t wait to see what he offers up next.