The Weirdos comedy panto, a rock singer’s finger & a Christmas Number 1

From left, Malcolm Highton and Joz Norris admire new Weirdo Eleanor Morton

From left, Matthew Highton and Joz Norris admire new Weirdo member Eleanor Morton

A couple of days ago, Alexander Bennett tried to plug his upcoming comedy show via this blog.

Matthew Highton, Eleanor Morton and Joz Norris have now tried to do the same thing to much the same effect. They were trying to plug their Weirdos’ pantomime at Bob Slayer’s Grotto @ HoHo Theatre this week (Tuesday-Friday) in aid of the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity.

“You’ve done this before,” I told Joz. “You talk gibberish and then you talk a bit of sense. Then I transcribe it, ignore the sensible bits and just print the gibberish in the blog. So, you are plugging what…?”

“The Weirdos’ panto which starts this week,” said Joz.

“Oh no it doesn’t” I said.

“It’s got none of those bits in,” said Joz. “We’ve always positioned it as an alternative panto, so it actually has as little of those moments as possible. But we’ve got different moments of audience interaction.”

“So no panto catchphrases at all?” I asked.

“My catchphrase is briefly in there. I say Hey, guys! once.”

“We encourage booing,” explained Matthew, “but usually the audience just insult Joz.”

“Yes,” agreed Joz, “I normally get shouted at. There IS a recurring catchphrase that happens every year. In the 2012 panto, John Kearns played Peter Pan and people shouted Shit dad! at him. And, this year, he’s playing a shit dad, so that justifies it.”

“Are there any traditional panto characters in it at all?” I asked.

“I am a sort of Buttonsy character,” said Joz. “Oh… no I’m not… Last year I was Buttons.”

“There’s cross-dressing,” said Eleanor, hopefully.

The Weirdos prepare for their Christmas show - and No 1 single

The Weirdos prepare for their Christmas show and their No 1

“There’s always cross-dressing,” said Matthew.

“And panto villains,” said Joz. “Beth Vyse is very good at pantomime villains, along with Cassie Atkinson.”

“It’s more similar,” said Eleanor, “to the pantomime roots of the medieval shows that the the court would put on every Christmas. Christian allegories.”

“Good grief,” I said.

“I was in a student film when I was a child of nine,” continued Eleanor. “I played a girl who had to go and live in a nunnery and she finds a girl in the cellar who is being kept there by the nuns and she is like this weird half-cat-woman.”

There was a slight pause.

“We should talk about your new job,” Matthew said to Eleanor.

“No!” said Eleanor.

“Eleanor,” explained Joz, “is working as an aide to a Scottish MP.”

“Can you get him,” Matthew asked Eleanor, “to mention the Weirdos’ panto in one of his House of Commons speeches?”

“No,” said Eleanor.

“Who is the MP?” I asked.

“He looks a lot like Ian Anderson,” said Joz, “from Jethro Tull.”

“He is not Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull,” said Eleanor.

Ian Anderson had more than one finger in 1977

Ian Anderson had more than one finger in 1977

“When I met Ian Anderson,” Joz continued, “he had been my hero for about six years and I went to shake his hand and say Well done on the gig and he just gave me his index finger and I had to shake his index finger.”

“Are you sure,” I asked, “that it was his index finger?”

“It was,” said Joz. “He had this dead-eyed look and said: You’re a bit young to be listening to my music and then walked off.”

“Did he,” Matthew asked, “fart when you pulled his index finger?”

“No,” said Joz, “but that would have been amazing.”

“Did he stand on one leg?” I asked.

“No,” said Joz.

“I met Jeremy Corbyn the other day,” said Eleanor.

“Did he hold out his finger?” asked Matthew.

“No. I passed him in the corridor and he smiled at me and that was it.”

“Did he fart?” asked Joz.

“No,” said Eleanor.

“He’s grooming you,” I said.

“Joz is playing clarinet in the panto this year,” said Matthew.

“We’ve got a song,” said Joz, “called Weirdos For Christmas Number One. Laurence Owen has written three Christmas songs for us. I like the fact that, every year, the shows look a bit ramshackle and it’s all cardboard and poster paint but in the middle are these professional songs. I think it’s a really nice surprise for people.”

“What,” I asked, “is the panto called?”

Adam Larter with Weirdos

Adam Larter in a previous stage production with the Weirdos

“It’s called Weirdos For Christmas Number One,” replied Joz, “about trying to form a band and write a Christmas No 1 single to pay off the Inland Revenue because the central character’s dad is in debt.”

“We had several ideas this year,” said Matthew. “I wanted to do a circus, but Adam Larter didn’t like it.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I think it was too mainstream for him. Instead, he has a written a story where the main character is called Adam – played by Adam – who is clearly seeking his parents’ approval.”

“But, to be fair,” said Joz, “Adam has been very selfless the last three years in giving nice roles to other people.”

“That’s too much about the panto for the blog,” I said.

“Joz is really worried about his wrinkles,” Matthew ventured.

Joz Norris demonstrates his wrinkles

Joz Norris: “It’s because of all the smiling I do.”

“I’ve been moisturising,” said Joz. “It’s because of all the smiling I do. A photographer the other day told me I was the first person she’d ever done head shots for where she didn’t have to digitally remove the bags under the eyes, because I didn’t have any.”

“You do,” I said.

“Well, I slept really badly last night,” Joz explained. “I stayed up until 2.00am watching the endings of sad films.”

“Only the endings?” I asked.

“I’d already seen the films.”

“So now,” I asked, “you just fast-forward to the endings?”

“Well, I’m not going to stay up until 4.00am watching the entire film,” said Joz. “That would be silly. I just stay up until 2.00am watching the ending.”

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