Geoff Norcott Is Good In A Crisis

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

You would never particularly mark Geoff Norcott out as an edgy comedian; with confident affability he wants his audience to feel secure in their entertainment. He’s a safe pair of hands on the circuit, and if it wasn’t such a loaded word, you might dare to call him mainstream.

Yet there’s some delicious gallows humour in this work-in-progress hour, not diminished by the fact it’s delivered with an open smile rather than with a rock-and-roll posturing. It means he can sneak in surprising material about appalling pet deaths or an horrific self-inflicted drug-induced injury without losing his lightness of touch.

This show is another ‘dead parent’ story, following in the footsteps of Des Bishop, Russell Kane, Jason Cook and others who created an unintentional trend for turning grief into gags. Norcott acknowledges he’s not the first to tread this ground – if anything he’s a bit too quick to cite other comedians’ influences – though he has taken a slightly different approach here.

While there are some entertaining examples of his wheelchair-bound mother’s mordant wit, Norcott does not go for pathos particularly. Instead, it’s his personal tale of how grief affected him, and how he dealt with it. Initially, this mean ploughing on regardless, performing at the Edinburgh Fringe night after night, but the denial caused him emotional and physical pain, which he was eventually forced to confront.

He got help from a range of therapists. Oh, and God. For Norcott’s a practising Christian, and while you might take issue with his arguments when he, briefly, addresses this issue – it is at least something different in the Godless world of comedy. Not that you should mistake his faith for piety, he can still be as crude as they come.

As a show, it needs some work on its structure and direction, and some digressions knock the edge off stories… but this is a very early public outing of something bound for Edinburgh not this August, but next. And it surely won’t take 14-and-a-half months to arrange the solid, pieces of his Jigsaw into a meaningful and funny whole. Talk about good grief.

Review date: 19 May 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton The Temple

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