An Interview with Nathan Cassidy

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Perennially prolific, the terrific Nathan Cassidy has a brand new show for 2019…


Hi Nathan, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
I’m from Birmingham and now I live in Hackney in London.

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?
I was about six and it was that atrocious bit at a wedding between the ceremony and the dinner. It was a community hall and I entertained everyone for an hour on the stage. Technically it was my first hour show. I can’t remember the detail but I remember everyone laughing and probably getting emotional at the 40-minute mark when I did a bit about marriage inevitably failing.

Who are your comedy idols?
Growing up it was Rick and Ade, Alexei Sayle, Fry and Laurie and Rowan Atkinson. I’m slightly older than I look (I’m mid to late 20’s). Now it’s Bill Burr, Steve Coogan and anyone on youtube chucking ping pong balls into glasses from a slight distance.

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What are the processes behind the creation of one of your shows, from inception to hatching?
Nathan: I like to have an idea around this time of year for the following year, so I can start creating the material over the next six months in new material nights, I do a regular one in London on Mondays where you hear it all first. I’ve got my idea for next year, and the only danger of that is you put too much focus on the following year too early. It’s a very very very good idea though!! I’m going to take it on a bit of a World Tour, New Zealand and America.

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
A year ago I’d have said writing comedy, a year ago I used to write comedy all the time. On Sunday afternoon maybe I’d have been in the pub or up on Hampstead Heath pretending to see friends but actually I’d have been thinking about comedy, writing comedy in my head. But then, at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, my life changed. I injured my back, in the same way most people injure their backs, by brushing my teeth, so joined a local gym in a bid to sort out my rubbish core. And I met someone. I met a man that would take me on a year of discovery, a truly bizarre year where I didn’t have to write any comedy to churn out another hour show, perfect.

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You’ve got a new show for 2019 – can you tell us about it?
So yes, I’ve never really been one for observational comedy because nothing from my day to day life I really found that amusing. Much as it would be lovely to find a routine from having a shower usually I just turn the shower on, have a wash, and get out of the shower. But after meeting this guy at the gym, this massive, strong man, he’s taken me on such a bizarre journey of discovery and self discovery that, brilliantly, the show has kind of written itself. I won’t give too much away but he started as my personal trainer, and quickly became much more. Everything about him and our relationship is unconventional, and ripe to stick straight into a comedy show. Let’s just say he is round my house a lot now. But he doesn’t use the shower. But if he did there would probably be a routine in it.

What it is at about this story that demanding a retelling on stage?
Everything. I needed someone to come into my life and shake it up. I think we look for like-minded people to surround ourselves with, but I met this guy who did everything I didn’t. He is at the gym 6am to 11pm every day. That’s all he does. He doesn’t read the news, he doesn’t know what’s going on in the world. He lifts Atlas stones. He’s religious. And he’s opened the door to a new future for me and shone a light on my past. He’s truly changed my life, and my comedy. No one is expecting an observational comedy show from Nathan Cassidy. No one is expecting any show. No one likes stand-up comedy any more. It’s a dying art from. I’m more into piano now.

What are the fundamental differences between the Brighton & the Edinburgh Fringes?
If you want, you can do the Brighton Fringe without seeing anyone else in the industry. Which I’m not saying for one second is absolutely brilliant, but I guess whatever you do you in life can you surround yourself with people who think your job is the most important thing in the world. Sometimes you need people around you that not only are not in your world, but don’t give a damn about anything in your world. And that can open your eyes to what’s important in life, and the direction you want to go in next. None of what I’m doing in comedy is important, however very, very funny it is. There’s a much bigger picture for me now, and this big, strong man has shown me the light. And there are beaches in Brighton that aren’t freezing. And you don’t go bankrupt.

Photography: Andy Hollingworth


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Observational

Caroline of Brunswick

May 4-6 (15:15) PWYW

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www.nathancassidy.com/al

An Interview with Nigel Osner

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Nige Osner is back & he’s off to Brighton…


Hello Nigel, so first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in London and still live there.

Your journey to performer is quite a convoluted one, can you tell us the short version?
Will try! I am a non-practising barrister and was employed in the Ministry of Justice. But I had a yearning to be a performer. I began by helping to write, then act in, departmental pantomimes. I fancied myself as rather good, but came to realise I needed singing lessons, courses on acting and the advantage of a good director! I appeared at a couple of fringe venues, doing a mixture of existing material – e.g. Coward, Kurt Weill, Lehrer – and writing my own lyrics. I also started to work three days a week, to spend more time on writing and performing. In 2008 I left the Department and found an acting agent. However, I stopped performing for a bit and got more involved in films or fringe theatre.

In 2011 I thought I would give performing another go. Since then in London I have performed at the Crazy Coqs, the studio at the Other Palace, the Pheasantry and more alternative venues. In 2016 it seemed time to try the Edinburgh Fringe, so I put together ‘Angel to vampire!’, an entirely original show based on my life’s yearnings. My current show, which I will be taking to the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes this year, is called ‘Too young to stay in, too old to go out!’ What I do is tell stories, whether in song or monologues, as different characters, both men and women – and occasionally supernatural beings!

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You’re quite the polymath, where do you think such a wide array of interests come from?
Creativity can come out in different ways at different times. For a long time I expressed this side by painting, portraits especially. This overlapped with my writing and I had a children’s book published years ago. I helped adapt this into a musical. I have continued writing and enjoy the fantasy genre. However, I particularly wanted to express myself as a performer. By writing my own material at least nobody can say they have seen it done better! As to why there are these different interests, I can’t say. I just need to express myself in this way. I no longer paint though. But underlying everything is a sort of escapism and yet also a desire to be truly myself.

A couple of years ago you performed ‘Angel to Vampire!’ in Brighton and Edinburgh – how did it all go?
‘Angel to vampire!’ is a show about my life’s yearnings. However, I don’t illustrate everything directly. After all, I’m neither an angel nor a vampire! I thought it was brilliant title, but in retrospect not everyone likes vampires and for those who do, there would not have been enough supernatural characters. The show got some good reviews in Edinburgh, including that in the Fringe Review, which was beautifully written, supportive and a joy to have. However, the audience could have been larger so, as with many Edinburgh shows, I lost a bit of money. I also learned lessons for the future about venues and advertising. I stayed for the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe but the following year performed only seven days in the Brighton Fringe. Again, that could have been busier but the feedback was positive and I have now developed a good relationship with Sweet venues.

Can you tell us about the unfortunate break in proceedings from last year’s follow-up show?
Break literally! I had arranged to perform ‘Too young to stay in, too old to go out!’ with Sweet for four early evenings. The first two shows were full and the audience reaction was very encouraging. On the second night I went out afterwards with two friends from London. It was a jolly evening! Nevertheless, I did not get back that late to where I was staying. I had to get up in the middle of the night and somehow my right foot gave way. I could not walk on it in the morning so took myself off to the hospital. I thought I had sprained the foot or possibly broken a toe. In fact I had broken four metatarsals, which was regarded as serious because of potential swelling. As I couldn’t do the show sitting down, I had to cancel the remaining performances and hire a minicab to London. That did not lead to financial profit!

So what is ‘Too Old To Stay In Too Young To Go Out’ all about?
It is about the challenges and occasional opportunities for those who can no longer claim to be young, even to themselves. I examine dating, love, work, holidays – even the gym! I do this with original songs and stories by male and female characters. There’s lots of humour but with a bitter sweet edge. Characters include Gerald who is having a taxing night out in central London; a rich designer who falls for his hunky gardener; the woman driven mad by her companion on a river cruise down the Danube; and a fading star on an endless tour. I am particularly – but not exclusively – aiming the show at an older audience, as I am not sure enough material is written with their concerns in mind.

Have you gained any fresh wisdom from doing the show?
I am no longer twenty-five.

What are the fundamental differences between performing at the Brighton & the Edinburgh Fringes?
The Brighton Fringe is less full-on, less crowded and has more of a local audience, which I find appreciates my material. A huge proportion of the Edinburgh audience come along from outside the city. In 2018 there were 3500 shows. It is not a relaxing experience.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
In August I’ll be taking my show to the Edinburgh Fringe. My aim is to promote interest in a tour of small venues and a London run of an expanded version of the show. I would like to revive ‘Angel to Vampire!’ for Halloween. Apart from that I’ll do bits and pieces plus try to get cast in a play or film. And I’ll hope to write some new material.


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Too Young Too Old

Sweet Werks 2

May 3-5 (17:10)

www.nigelosner.com

An Interview with Katy Schutte

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Katy Schutte is bringing a touch of the Gothic to this year’s Brighton Fringe…


Hello Katy, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I live in London and I grew up in the South; Hampshire, Sussex.

When did you first realise you were funny?
There wasn’t a particular moment for me. My family have a good sense of humour. I guess it was more – discovering that other people aren’t always funny.

When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
I grew up on comedy. My Dad’s favourites were Oliver and Hardy, Morecombe and Wise, Victoria Wood and I saw my first Red Dwarf episode when I was 8 and can still quote series 1-5. I always read and watched comedy and I liked to write it myself from an early age.

Which comedian has made you laugh the hardest?
Many favourites have come and gone for me, but Bill Bailey is still one of the best. He’s chill, musical, mega-talented and still seems very down to earth. I also love Mike Birbiglia and his style of storytelling inspired my last show.

Can you tell us about the Maydays?
The Maydays are my improv family. I have been with the company for 15 years and we continue to develop and aspire and move forward. We were a short form improv troupe at the beginning, then with me and Rachel Blackman going to Chicago to learn, we took on long form improvisation and (with others) spread it throughout the UK.

What are the fundamental differences between improv & sketch comedy, & what skills are needed for each?
Improv is about other people. Improv doesn’t need to be funny. Stand-up is about frequency of laughs. Fundamentally, improv is a group activity and sketch probably means doing a first draft and bringing it to your director or team for re-writes and honing. Improv doesn’t always promise comedy, either; it might be an improvised play. A sketch comedian may not know how to improvise on stage with others and an improv comedian may not know how to write or deliver material. They are different animals.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It is thrilling. Knowing that you made other people happy is a superb feeling. The pitfall of all comedy though is that if you take the positives personally, you also have to take the negatives personally. The best thing is to regard your work at a distance. It worked or didn’t, you are still great.

You’ve got three comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Firstly, cooking for three strangers would make me really stressed, so I’d cook easy, familiar stuff. I’d probably get a really good Olive bread to dip in oil and vinegar as a starter, Shakshuka or a feta filo pie made beforehand as the main. Dessert would be a pumpkin or banana cake. I’d want to invite comedian friends, but under pressure I’d invite Mike Birbiglia, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig.

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You’re performed at the Brighton Fringe before – in fact you bloody won the thing. What’s the story?
The Maydays won Best Comedy Show with Mayday! The Musical when we were only a few years old as a company. It was a great boost and totally unexpected. Jimmy Carr gave us the award. I was nominated for Best Comedy Show in 2018 for Schutte the Unromantic. I had made the show specifically as a show I wanted to make, not to please anyone or as a career move or marketing ploy, so it was amazing to have my from-the-heart stuff validated. Then Joe Morpurgo bloody won.

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You’re bringing a new show, LET’S SUMMON DEMONS, to this year’s Brighton Fringe; can you tell us about it?
I probably built an appreciative audience from my last show, but instead of capitalising on that, I’ve just gone off on a tangent. I felt compelled to make a show about witchcraft, the post #metoo world, the witch hunt of men and my Grandmother’s haunted house in Wales. It’s semi-immersive folk horror which is pretty far from Schutte the Unromantic. This one is called Let’s Summon Demons.

Where did you get the idea, & is the reality realising your original vision?
I’m really pleased with the show. It was well received at the London Horror Festival and I’m thrilled to bring it to VAULT this week and to Brighton in May. My team is amazing. The design and direction (Jonathan Monkhouse and John Henry Falle) are fantastic. I love the show and I think others will get a lot out of it too.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
If you like The Wicker Man, or any folk horror, if you like theatre that calls your beliefs into question, if you want to be involved, to bare your soul a little bit; this is your thing. It’s made by a witch and it’s fucking awesome.


Let’s Summon Demons

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The Hat at Warren
May 3/4/17/18

www.katyschutte.co.uk

An Interview with Andrew White

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Bubbling with the comedy ebullience of youth, Andrew White is taking his teenage wisdom on the road… 


Hello Andrew, so first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Surrey but grew up in Bournemouth where a lot of my family is. Then, for the last ten years I’ve been just outside of Salisbury for schooling reasons. It’s a really lovely area, but nothing ever happens (Russian business aside). On the one hand it means I’ve managed to build a circuit of local gigs without much competition, but on the other hand, most other events are at least an hour away.

When did you first realise you were funny?
When I was cocky little fearless 15 year old. I got up on stage thinking I was hilarious. Ever since, though, it’s just been a spiral into self-doubt and imposter’s syndrome. If I hadn’t started then, I don’t think current me would give comedy a go.

How did you get into performing comedy?
There was a youth performance open mic in Salisbury and I wen along to try out doing some jokes. I’d always loved stand-up and really wanted to do the same as what I watched on TV. As any other comedian would’ve already guessed, the open mic was all music acts and it was a strange environment to tell jokes. Luckily, the woman running it (Flo) was involved in comedy through improv and steered me towards proper comedy environments.

If your style was a soup, what would be the ingredients?
Minestrone in a sieve. There’s a lot going on, and not all of it works for me, but I’m slowly picking out the best ingredients and trying new ones to form the most satisfying soup.

What are the creative processes behind writing your material?
A lot of the time an initial idea comes to me whilst thinking random thoughts to myself. A certain train of thought may make me smile, and then I’ll try and hear myself saying it on stage, and if it sounds workable I’ll write it down. Then development comes from a mix of sitting and writing out, talking it through in my head, and finally saying it aloud at a new material night. Occasionally I’ll write with another comic called Sunjai Arif as well, that outside view on material is always useful, plus he’s very funny!

As a post-Millennial, do you find that comedy is changing, is the material of older comics still relevant?
Comedy is definitely changing, and for the better I think. It’s becoming a much more creative and exciting art form. There’s a focus on originality & well written material, whilst cheap punchlines / premises are rightly being snubbed by industry and audience alike. The material of older comics’ is definitely still relevant, provided it’s funny, engaging, and original. That has nothing to do with age though, that’s just about the calibre of the comedian. In fact, it’s often younger comedians who will deliver “irrelevant” material, just because they’ve not learned that it won’t fly anymore. I could list dozens of older comics who are some of the funniest and most original acts about, but I think the praise would be somewhat tainted with me calling them “older comics”!

What is your ideal Sunday afternoon?
A game of football with friends, and then home to a light dinner, hot bath, and a film.

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Can you tell us about the show?
It is all about me wanting to quit stand-up and how university will be better for me. I’m currently on my gap year doing comedy full time, but it’s not everything I imagined it to be, and after one particularly awful gig, I decided that would be that. The show follows on from the gig looking at the benefits of higher education, and asking how much value I could add to the stand-up world anyway. There is some lingering lust for comedy that shines through though, and it becomes more difficult a decision than I first thought…

Where did you get the idea for Retirement Tour, & is the reality realising your original vision?
I had the idea during Edinburgh last year, but it was mainly a provocative joke title. Since then it has changed massively and I’m actually torn between the two paths in real life. From a stupid joke idea, it’s become a very real, very honest, and very soul-bearing show. I’m still living the narrative of it as well, so it’s quite unique – you get to see the decision making evolve in real time alongside my genuine life.

If this is your last year as a comedian – & The Mumble hopes its not, by the way – what the hell are you gonna do instead?
If it is (which it may well be), I’d go to University to study Linguistics. From there, career paths are very varied – speech therapy, marketing, working with the police, all sorts! I may even end up in an entirely unrelated profession. I guess the short answer is, I don’t have a clue!

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
After Edinburgh, I’ll probably be starting at Cardiff University. I’m not 100% though. For now, I’m focusing on the show and making it as good as it can be.


Retirement Tour

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Bath: March 27 @ St James’ Wine Vaults
Swindon: April 9 @ The Victoria
Bournemouth: May 3 @ Bournemouth Little Theatre
Brighton: May 4 @ The Caxton Arms
Liverpool: July 1 @ Hot Water Comedy Club, Seel St
Shaftesbury: July 6 @ Shaftesbury Arts Centre
Edinburgh: August 2-25 @ The Mash House, Cask Room

www.standupandrew.com

Glasgow’s Glee

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Glee Club, Glasgow
March 1st, 2019


As a long-time fan of Glasgow’s stand-up scene, I found myself pleasantly surprised when I attended the Friday Night Comedy show at the city’s recently opened venue The Glee Club. An established stand-up staple in Birmingham, Cardiff and Oxford, The Glee Club’s expansion to Glasgow provides an exciting opportunity that bridges the gap between the more intimate comic experiences exemplified by The Stand Comedy Club and larger, theatrical venues, a point made by legendary Glasgow comic Gary Little. Between generous pitchers of beer and snacking on my mate’s plate of nachos, I found the overall experience pretty impressive.

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Scott Gibson
The March 1st show was hosted by the effortlessly hilarious Scott Gibson, and featured (in sequential order) Rosco McLelland, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris. Having seen Gibson killing it numerous times at The Stand, I found him to be a brilliant host, who masterfully whipped the crowd into a fury before each act with his grounded, self-deprecating comic wit. Gibson’s confident, reassuring demeanour also helped to remind his audience to be respectful to the incoming acts, while containing the enthusiasm of some rowdier elements of the show’s audience, a disciplinary edge that I’ve found unfortunately to be lost on many hosts. While hardly an easy task in such a large venue, Gibson exuded an excellent energy that continually drew the crowd in.

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Rosco McLelland gave an energetic performance as the show’s opener, but his material paled in comparison to the elegance of Tiernan’s act and the vibrancy that Norris projected as the show’s headliner. Having seen McLelland do brilliantly in smaller rooms like The Stand, I felt his lukewarm performance was perhaps partly due to the sheer size of The Glee Club, but also possibly a natural reaction as a performer getting used to a new space. As a pathway between low-ceiling stand-up rooms and Apollo-like theatre spaces, I couldn’t help but feel that it’ll be harder for subtler acts to project their acts at The Glee Club as effectively as headliner performers. Showing moments of great comic insight, perhaps McLelland will feel more settled next time around.

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Eleanor Tiernan
Reflecting on the show’s final two acts, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris dazzled the audience with their performances. In her effortless dalliance between more observational moments and socio-political commentary, she peppered her act with questions over the MeToo Movement, the difficulty of having a vagina (which she brilliantly compares to a piece of 1980s machinery that works, but is always leaking when you don’t expect it), and the role that women play in promoting a more nuanced understanding of female identity. While I have a particular leaning towards more socio-political comics, I have to say that, even in its lighter moments, Tiernan’s act was a delight to watch. Her appearance at Friday Night Comedy clearly illustrated her enviable talent as a headliner comic, and I really hope to see her again.

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Ben Norris
As the show’s main headliner, Ben Norris’ explosive stand-up routine made for a fantastic finish to the night, brimming with intelligent and penetrative observations on British culture and life as a father. Weaving his material with some brilliant moments of crowd-work, his deliciously confident, likeable energy lifted the show to new heights, and made for some fantastic moments of crowd-work with the crowd, particularly when he found himself struggling to understand sections of his predominantly Glaswegian audience. In one brilliant moment, after failing to understand a woman’s name in the front row (referencing her as “Laun” instead of “Lauren”), he developed this incomprehension into a clever joke on how much easier life must be in Glasgow when you just remove the middle of each word. Bringing a rock-star dynamism to the venue, Norris truly shone as the show’s headliner.


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Main Stage at Friday Night Comedy

Reviewing the club more broadly, one major strength I think The Glee Club will bring to the Glasgow comedy scene is its employment of security staff. Having seen numerous shows ruined beyond belief by hecklers, their subtle presence in the backdrop of the audience was a very welcome addition. I also felt that the show’s provision of food and pitchers balances well with the needs of the stand-up performances and in avoiding any possible disturbance it could cause to the shows. While I typically view the inclusion of food at a stand-up venue as a poor sign of the show’s management – a profit over performance indicator – The Glee Club pulls it off well, ensuring that people can order food and drinks at the bar while avoiding any tab system that could disrupt the flow of the acts while the food is being delivered. However, a small criticism I’d make about it would be the near-deafening preamble music played between the show’s breaks. Lasting between two-to-three minutes, the music was like a mixture between 1970s cinema advertising and the kind of thing that Michael Bay would use as the score for a space shoot-em-up. Rather than getting me pumped for the next act, it just left me irritated.

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Overall however, Friday Night Comedy was an excellent showcasing of The Glee Club’s potential as a Glasgow stand-up venue. The playhouse size of the club offers the potential to accommodate a market between smaller and larger venues, and with that, to expand the range of opportunities for both audiences and performers. As comic Geoff Norcott commented on The Glee Club’s launch in Glasgow, the “showbiz staging” of the club gives it a certain cultural and commercial credit that makes it stand out from other arenas, noting, “it’s the one you invite the in-laws to if you want to convince them you’re doing alright.’ While I’ve noted that there are some negatives when compared with smaller venues, its positive reputation among British comics and audiences places The Glee Club in an enviable position to build a prominent platform for professional shows. I feel that as Friday Night Comedy continues, it will continue to tighten its line-up in a similar way to The Stand, and in doing so, will mark itself as an increasingly important comic hub in Glasgow.

James Nixon

An Interview with Joz Norris

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The miraculous comedy mind of Joz Norris will soon be winging its way into Glasgow…


Hello Joz! First things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I’m from here, there and everywhere, really. I lived in a small village called Petworth for a bit, where I lived in a hunting lodge belonging to a man called Lord Egremont, which I didn’t actually know until quite recently and I think is kind of gross. Spent my whole life thinking I was a sort of leftie social justice warrior, and it turns out I was part of the establishment. Then I lived in London for a while, then Salisbury for a bit, in the pre-novichok days when there was really nothing to say about the place, then Norwich, and now I’m back in London. I should just say I’m from London, it’s simpler.

When did you first realise you were funny?
In a way I’m still waiting to realise this.

How did you get into stand-up?
I knew since I was tiny that I wanted to write or act, or ideally both. I wanted to be like Pierce Brosnan, but also like Terry Pratchett. When I went to uni I wrote a few comedy scripts for the student radio station and Jon Brittain, who is now one of the best writers in the theatre biz, said they were good and I should try stand-up at the comedy club he co-ran. It just immediately felt right. It sort of combined the things I like doing in exactly the right way. Not saying I was immediately great at it, it took me a long time to figure out what I was doing, but I could immediately tell it was what I wanted to do with my life. Make up funny things and try to communicate them to people somehow.

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Which comedians have inspired you; both old skool & contemporary?
As a kid I remember loving Lee Evans. We had a VHS of him doing a show in Edinburgh which opened with him doing the “Lee Evans Trio” bit, where he mime-performs all three members of a jazz trio, and I was captivated by it. Then when I was a teenager I got really into TV sitcoms and worshipped Coogan and the Boosh and the Garth Marenghi bunch and Julia Davis and all those guys, who aren’t all comedians necessarily but massively informed my sensibilities. These days I’m most inspired by my peers because I get to see them regularly and I get to really understand how their brains work and how their imaginations manifest onstage – John Kearns, Lucy Pearman, Michael Brunstrom, Ali Brice, Holly Burn. Loads and loads of others.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
I think it’s the fact that it’s a doomed enterprise that I love. You keep going back to it again and again because it never quite works. I think all art is the process of scooping out the contents of your own head and hoping somebody who sees it connects with it, which is a fundamentally impossible thing to do. You can’t ever really communicate how it feels to be you, and the most anybody else will ever get is a tiny glimpse of it. Comedy’s my favourite version of that because it’s inherently ridiculous, it’s all about failure and being stupid and getting things wrong. I love that feeling. The feeling of being onstage and thinking “I’m trying to show you how it feels to be me, and that’s an utterly ridiculous thing to try and do, but isn’t it a funny thing to attempt?”

What does Joz Norris like to do to kick back?
I love jelly beans and I love Dr. Pepper and I love 70s prog rock. 70s rock in general, in fact, and some 70s folk. A bit of 80s art rock. Not much 90s stuff. A little bit of 70s jazz fusion, or 80s post-punk. And anything released by a 70s or 80s prestige artist in the 2010s. I also like to watch those Satisfying Video compilations on Youtube and read Vonnegut novels. Then I’ll go for a walk round Brockwell Park and talk to myself. Sometimes I interact with other human beings and do things that sound less tragically lonely than everything I’ve just listed. But you’ve got to be in the right mood for that. The rest I can do any time, any day.

You’re quite a stalwart in Edinburgh every August – can you tell us about Heroes of Fringe?
Heroes of Fringe is the BEST. Bob Slayer set it up a few years ago now as a model to challenge the way the Fringe is structured, and to redirect the flow of money so it goes directly to the artists instead of lining the pockets of big companies. I did a paid venue once and the show did ok but I lost money. Since doing Heroes I’ve made big profits every single year. That was sort of what it was set up to do, and it does it really well, but the more important thing about it is that it feels like a big family. I genuinely love every single person involved in Heroes, and I feel more at home there than anywhere. It looks after its people and it makes sure they’re happy so that they make good art.

Can you tell us how your comedy wound its way onto NextUp and Amazon Prime?
The NextUp guys are doing great work, they’re preserving shows which might otherwise disappear into the ether and maintaining this incredible archive where you can go back and watch things you might have missed. I think it’s going to become a really important resource in years to come. You often hear stories of these incredible shows that big name comedians did years back when they first started out, and there’s no way of going back to watch them, but now because of places like NextUp, you have this big resource. They scout out lots of shows at the Fringe and film the ones they enjoy, and they were kind enough to film mine back in 2017. Really proud to have a good record of that one, I think it was a great show.

You’re also big on making screen entertainment – ‘The Girl Whisperer,’ & ‘The Baby,’ spring to mind. How do you find balancing comedy & film-making, & do they influence each other?
I fell in love with comedy mostly by watching it on TV – Boosh and Partridge, like I said, and Peep Show and Marion & Geoff. So a big part of my brain is in love with the idea of making comedy onscreen. I think you can do a lot more with it than you can onstage – a comedy film can be sad and slow and awkward in a way that a live show maybe can’t (or maybe it’s harder in a live show, or something, but I certainly think it’s different). And I think you can include moments that are smaller and subtler, more based in the quiet, odd ways that people can be funny just in the way they express things, or the way they slightly miss one another in conversation, and so on. I also think you can push the boat out more in film in terms of indulging in surreal imagery – we had an amazing time on The Baby making it look and feel creepy and weird and slightly wrong. I think with a live show you can play with tone and feeling a lot, but with a film you can actually play with texture and colour and light and all these things that you have more direct control over. I think they’re both great, and do different things.

You’re performing at this year’s Glasgow Comedy Festival; can you tell us where & when?
I can! I’ll be doing a new show called Joz Norris Is Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad. at the Vacant Space on Friday 29th March at 8pm. It’s been curated and promoted by the amazing Pax Lowey, who runs ARGComFest down in London, which is a brilliant festival and is beginning to branch out to other festivals in other cities, like Glasgow. Very excited to be part of the lineup for it.

What is the show all about?
The sort of pretentious and vague answer is that it’s about disguise and anxiety and the failure to communicate. And the idea, which I mentioned above, that everything you do to try and make sense of your life and fit it into a pattern, is doomed to fail, but that’s ok. More specifically, it’s about a character I created last year to get myself back into performing, as I’d given up for a while due to personal reasons. This character is called Mr Fruit Salad and he is basically rubbish, but he’s decided to put on a solo show to get to the bottom of who he is. He doesn’t exist, so he’s got lots of existential trauma to work through.

What do you think of Glasgow as a city?
I really like Glasgow. I don’t know it as well as Edinburgh as I’ve spent less time there, but the last time I was there I tried to get to know it and explore it a bit more, and walked round the Kelvingrove Park, which was beautiful, and then the old observatory and the botanical gardens. They’re the things that spring to mind now when I think about Glasgow. I think they’re all lovely.

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You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
This is the only show at the Glasgow Comedy Festival performed by somebody who doesn’t exist.

What will Joz Norris be doing for the rest of 2019?
Well this show will also be playing festivals in Bath, London and Ivybridge, and maybe a couple of others before going up to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. I’ll also be taking up a sketch double act show with Ed Aczel, with whom I’ve also made a sitcom pilot-type thing about petty criminals which should be coming out quite soon. I’ll also be launching a podcast about therapy, making a couple of short films, and developing a new scripted thing for TV about the gig economy. I’m also going on holiday to Morocco, turning 30, getting back into swimming, and working on a secret project for my best friend’s wedding. I like being busy.


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Joz Norris Dead. Long Live Mr Fruit Salad

Friday 29th March

The Vacant Space (20:00)

www.joznorris.co.uk

An Interview with Ro Campbell

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Ladies & Gentlemen, The Mumble gives you…. the legend that is… Ro Campbell.


Hello Ro – where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I’m a migratory creature and feel at home in many places. Australia, SE Asia and the just barely “United” Kingdom. I’m currently in Australia performing my way around the country before I head to Magner’s International Comedy Festival in Phillipines and Thailand and then I’ll be heading back to the UK to catch the remaining 11 months of Winter.

So, how the hell did you win the Scottish Comedian of the year award, 2010?
By murdering my rivals and threatening the judges families. You do what you gotta do in this game.

When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
Probably when I first saw a headliner being paid with cash in an envelope. I thought hell yeah cash in envelopes is awesome and I need to work harder so I too can have a job where I don’t have to do anything illegal but still get cash in an envelope at the end of the night. (Serious answer is I was at Edinburgh fringe in 2003 as a punter and developed an interest in stand up that progressively got worse until it took over my entire life and here we are today…a complete mess but having fun).

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Who are your favroite comedians, both old skool & contemporary?
Thankfully I got into stand up in the pre-Youtube, pre-Netflix era and just saw loads of live stand up over the years in clubs and at festivals so I would always base the answer to that question on acts I’ve seen live. Yes obviously Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison were beasts of the craft but I never saw them live so it’s not the same. I love watching great club comics working live, killing hard, in proper comedy clubs, that’s where the real magic of the form lies, you’ll never get that watching comedians’ specials on your phone as you ride to work. This isn’t really an answer to your question. What I’m trying to say is I’ve been lucky to see many many top level comedians in the world doing club sets or hour shows live and there’s too many to pick favourites. But I love it when you see one of your mates just having a really great gig, everything firing in the right place. Whoever that was most recently, that’s my favourite comic. And come to think of it I’m doing my Magners comedy festival Asia shows with Phil Nichol and Shane Hunter and I love watching both those guys so they’ll be my next favourites.

What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
I don’t know but I’m ticking so much I’m starting to think I might be a bomb so you better run because I’m about to go off. Hopefully on a punchline.

What’s the difference between British & Australian humour – & does it translate?
In Australia if you call the town you’re performing in a shit-hole they’ll boo and throw glass at you, but in Britain if you tell them their town is a shit-hole, they’ll cheer and then carry you from the venue on their shoulders singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow” whilst pouring warm lager down your throat. Apart from that I think four decades of popular television exchange have ensured plenty of common ground.

You’ve performed in over 40 countries – how do you find the travelling?
Travelling is just life on the move. Sometimes it’s spine-tingly incredible and other times it’s soul crushingly bleak but most of the time it’s pretty bearable with headphones on (this should be a meme).

How did you get involved with the Magners Asian Comedy festival?
I love Asia, I love Cider and I’m funny, so I had to be involved really.

You’re performing at this year’s festival; can you tell us where, when & who with?
I’m in Manila on April 3rd and Pattaya on April 4th both shows are with my multiple award winning friend Phil Nichol who pretends to be Canadian but is actually from the architecturally famed Scottish village of Cumbernauld.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
Learning how to post an Insta Story. And being funny in lots of different places.


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Ro Campbell

April 3rd: Heckle & Jeckle, Manila

April 4th: Holiday Inn, Pattaya (Thailand)

www.rocampbell.com