Comedy has taken some unexpected turns over the past few months, with performers turning to Twitch, YouTube and Zoom to replace the live shows axed by lockdown. For all the ingenious methods people have managed to move into a digital sphere, it’s hard to argue that the experience is quite the same as live stand-up.
Joz Norris’s show You Build The Thing You Think You Are has been designed to evoke the feeling of an Edinburgh show, despite having a very different format. Adapted from what would have been his fringe show, You Build The Thing You Think You Are is an honest film that tells a personal story in an unexpectedly profound way.
The show has all of Joz Norris’s signature silliness. It features a troll character that dances around his underwear and banters with an audience that isn’t there and bickers with a dry, deadpan Joz about how this show is still happening. But it’s self aware, directly acknowledging the circumstances that forced it into this structure and addressing the difficulty of being funny in the midst of a global trauma.
The story at the centre of the show is about identity. Joz talks about having to move out of the house where he spent his twenties, where he formed the person he is today, and about how a part of him will always be there. It’s also about how that profound personal impact lingers in the shadow of a much further-reaching panic.
But for all the darkness of that central theme, it is very funny. It wonderfully depicts experiences that are usually hard to articulate through moments that blend visual, physical jokes with insightful commentary.
The film as a whole has been beautifully constructed, with the kind of clever writing and tight editing that makes it feel like this was always what this show was meant to be. It just works.
You Build The Thing You Think You Are is certainly one of the most creative transitions from live to digital comedy. It is sharp and intelligent and weird. Its absurdity is key to its earnestness. You Build The Thing You Think You Are is a truly unique piece of comedy and a fantastic achievement.
Joz is streaming You Build The Thing You Think You Are with live Q&A sessions from Monday 20th – Sunday 26th July 2020.