Review: Joz Norris – You Build The Thing You Think You Are

joz norris you build indexIn any normal year we’d be knee deep in Edinburgh previews right now and looking forward to heading up to the festival itself, but of course this is the worst of years and for the first time in it’s history the festival has been cancelled. That’s caused a lot of upset for many a comedian and though some have performed online gigs I don’t think anyone would argue that they’re a decent replacement for the real thing, and Joz Norris definitely doesn’t think they are which is why he’s created this film based on a planned Edinburgh Show.

Right at the beginning he also explains that rather than just delay it until everything’s back to normal he’s decided to make the film because he doesn’t feel that it would work if he were to perform it live when the Pandemic is finally over with, especially given that he talks about leaving behind the people he used to live with and audience members might have lost loved ones. It’s not an argument I’m completely convinced by as surely comedians should be able to joke about anything without worrying about an audience member’s potential issues, but I can see where he’s coming from.

After this brief introduction he appears as the recurring comedy character “Romanian Troll Goblin”, who exists simply because when in Romania filming an advert for Sky Bet Joz couldn’t resist buying a mask even though it came out of the money he was supposed to spend on food  Norris tells this story because he feels that showing us the character gives us an insight in to who he really is, but it also gives him the chance to argue with himself while discussing the nature of the show, and sing Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights because although this is a much more serious show than he normally performs he still can’t resist being delightfully silly from time to time.

The nature of identity is a large aspect of the hour as Norris feels he lost his when he moved from the flat he’d been in for many years, with the show revolving around the “Emotional displacement that comes with moving house”, and he also talks about how this is his attempt at doing something a bit more honest. In among these moments he mentions how he no longer could tell what was funny, and his girlfriend Katy (who appears in the film) also felt he had lost his way a little, which was quite the concern given that’s how he makes his living.

Though undoubtedly a more sombre affair than his previous shows there is still a great deal of daftness, including a recreation of an auction of his belongings, a fantastically odd bit involving a crying baby which might just have been a crying adult, a dance which he claims cost him one hundred pounds to be taught, and his stories about the period contain many a funny line too. Tales involving Norris and his girlfriend Katy visiting a house they weren’t welcome at, Joz’s landlady explaining how his old room wasn’t suitable for a human being and that it should only be “A room for old boots and broken things”, and a story involving an awful Van Morrison gig are all real highlights and feature some very strong laugh out loud moments.

At the end it takes a more serious tone as he talks about a breakdown in 2018 that led to him not leaving the flat for several months, I’ve no issue with comedy shows taking a sudden sober turn but this feels too rushed. Joz has a revelation at the end but it really needed an extra ten minutes at the very least to be explored in more depth, because as it is the show builds and builds in a very enchanting way but then is suddenly over with and it feels disappointing, that though his discovery may have had a profound effect on him it’s something that he should have spent more time examining for it to have a similar effect on the audience.

It’s frustrating as Norris is one of my favourite comedians, and though in the past I’ve only witnessed him being extremely absurd, this new more serious type of story telling is something he proves himself to be extremely adept at, and I hope it’s something we see more of in the future. But if that is to be the case I also hope that it’s constructed with a little more care, and that the ending is a more satisfying one than the denouement we got here.

★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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Related Link:
You Build The Thing You Think You Are is being live streamed every night up until and including the 26th of July, and you can buy tickets here,

 

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