Who? Joz Norris
What? Joz Norris is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad
Where? Heroes @ The Hive – The Bunka (Venue 313)
What are your feelings as you enter into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe season?
Ooooohhhh boy, feeling great. Very proud of my solo show, hope people really like it. Very much having fun with my double-act show, it’s a hot mess but I think it’s gonna be ridiculous. Learned a bunch of good self-care Fringe things last year and gonna be using them again to make sure I don’t get stressed or go crazy. Gonna see all my good pals, gonna eat scampi in the City Restaurant. Yes please yes please.
What is the premise of your Edinburgh show this year?
A man called Mr Fruit Salad has written a one-man comedy show and wants to perform it. This is odd, because he doesn’t exist. He knows he doesn’t exist, and doesn’t know how to write a comedy show, so spends most of the show just trying to get out of his head and convince himself to do the show. It’s a sort of nonsense musing on connections and anxiety and hiding, performed from behind a disguise.
What is the biggest obstacle you face(d) while putting this show together?
The character of Mr Fruit Salad first emerged as a way of engaging with live performance at a time when I wasn’t enjoying it because of some personal stuff I was having to deal with. As such, when it came time to build a show around Mr Fruit Salad, the show inevitably became about that stuff, it became a reflection on why I’d invented him and what he meant and where he’d sprung from, but I really didn’t want it to become a confessional show along the lines of “Hey, here’s some bad stuff I went through, isn’t it sad?” I knew it had to be a show that was informed by all those things, but I gradually learned they needed to be hidden in the background, and not shown, or it completely undermined what I was trying to do, which was to build something silly and hopeful out of old hurt. So realising that and sort of surgically removing the foundations the show was built on and seeing if it could still stand up without them was the hardest bit.
Has your attitude towards the Fringe changed at all in recent years?
I dunno, really. I know which bits of the Fringe I like and which bits I don’t these days. I love it as a creative playground and a place to share your ideas. And I really like that it’s an opportunity to build new audiences and build connections and find opportunities to work with new people over the subsequent year, and make new exciting things. I do like that side of it, and it’s important. But out of that side of things grows all the other things, all the ego nonsense and the industry stuff. I find that side of things hard, the careerism and so on. It’s all got to exist, at the end of the day, so I just try to let it exist and stick to the bits of it I know I’m good at, and the bits I know I like. So my attitude hasn’t changed, necessarily, but it has solidified.
Do you have any other Edinburgh show recommendations?
Oh boy, so many. I’ve been recommending a show every day for the last 70 days or so on Twitter, so if you find me @JozNorris you can read a whole bunch of recommendations there. For this Q&A, I’ll specifically flag up Ben Target and Ed Aczel, both of whom I’m working with this year and are two of the funniest, most wonderful people in the world, so check out their solo shows. I’d also highly recommend Ali Brice’s show – he always makes some of the funniest shows every year, and this year’s is much more personal and reaches some incredible heights as a result. And Laura Lexx has become one of my absolute favourite comedians, she is so much fun to watch and so incredibly accomplished at what she does. I missed her show last year but am very keen to see this year’s.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
I try not to plan too much. I think it’s good to be ambitious, because then it means you’re open to any and all of the good things that might come your way, but not necessarily to have loads of specific ambitions, because then it’s easy for them to not work out for reasons outside of your control and then to look back on them as failures. I’m working on a bunch of TV, online and radio ideas at the moment, and I’d love it if one of those took off, and if it did I guess that would become my big project over the next year. And if not, then in a year’s time I’ll probably be making another new Fringe show and keeping myself busy that way. I’d like to have been on a nice holiday by this time next year as well, and I’d like my houseplants and all the things in my herb garden to be absolutely enormous.