Mr Fruit Salad informs us that Joz Norris couldn’t be here for the show because he’s having a bath but, well-meaning guy that he is, he’s offered to step in and do a set.
He begins the show gently bopping under a sheet, holds an audience member’s hand for a good five minutes, signposts a joke about a traffic cone, and at one point simultaneously appears at both ends of the stage. (With the help of Ben Target and an extra hat, glasses and beard).
The point is, Mr Fruit Salad is pretty haphazard and off-the-rails, but a total hoot.
He’s got a theme tune, but it takes him about 46 minutes to find which song it is, leaving little time for his actual set. A disastrous technical glitch for most performances, Mr Fruit Salad leans into it with style. You would think the joke would get a little old, but watching him rifle through his back catalogue of potential theme tunes – dancing, singing, getting the lyrics wrong – just invites fresh waves of laughter each time he realises he’s on the wrong track yet again.
Norris strikes a brilliant balance for character comedy in having created an absurd persona who’s not just weird for the sake of it. Mr Fruit Salad feels like a whole person with an entire narrative behind him – not an easy feat in an hour which barely gets past the opening theme song. Norris has mastered the art of eliciting gut-reaction laughter – the wonderful kind where you can’t quite explain why the joke’s funny.
Mr Fruit Salad’s hapless joviality is utterly endearing and effective in generating sympathy. Alongside Norris’ comedic spark, that’s his greatest asset as a performer, both in and out of character. Explaining that Mr Fruit Salad comes from a place of anxiety and is his way of facing the world, Norris adds honesty and soul to the performance. As a result, Mr Fruit Salad’s genial silliness is a thoroughly effective antidote to stress and anxiety for the audience.
- By Joz Norris
- Directed by Alex Hardy
- Starring Mr Fruit Salad, Joz Norris and Ben Target
- Heroes @ The Hive (The Bunka), Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- Until 26th August 2019. Playing at the Soho Theatre from 18th-21st September 2019.
- Time 16:40. 22:15 at the Soho.