Interview: Norris & Parker – 'Maybe they like putting all the mad women in the Attic'
Sharing a birthday and bleak sense of fun, Norris & Parker are set to raise merry hell at the Pleasance
Last Fringe, double act Norris & Parker claimed that All Our Friends Are Dead. For their 2016 affair, they want to See You at the Gallows. Dark enough for you? Well, it could have been a whole lot worse, as Katie Norris explains. ‘There’s a blog called The Worst Album Covers of All Time, albums from the 60s to the 80s with really odd artwork and mental titles like 'Let Me Touch Him', 'Jesus Use Me', 'All My Friends are Dead'. One of them is called 'My Pussy Belongs to Daddy' and we almost used that title for this year’s show.’
Before things went too far, something made them change their minds and the relatively knockabout See You at the Gallows is the title that will adorn the pair’s posters around town. ‘In the end, we didn’t want to alienate people who didn’t know us,’ insists Sinead Parker. ‘People who do know us would be aware that it wasn’t an attempt to be gratuitous or vulgar but we didn’t want to just come across as simply having a shocking title. But we do love that title and may use it in the future … ’
Sketch shows and double acts with an edge about them are, of course, de rigueur at the Fringe, but venue-wise there may be a curious pattern developing. Norris & Parker will be in the Pleasance Attic this year (having played in The Caves last Fringe) and they follow in some rather bleak footsteps. Penny Spubbs Party, Toby and Gein’s Family Giftshop have all skirted a controversial line in that room (OK, so has Michael McIntyre but we’ll let that one go).
‘We’ll be asking all the audience to disrobe as they enter and we’ll be performing naked,’ says Parker. ‘Just to keep everyone cool, we’ll be having sprinklers installed.’ Reflecting on their predecessors Sarah and Lizzie Daykin (Toby), and Katy Wix / Anna Crilly (Penny Spubbs), Norris notes, ‘maybe they like putting all the mad women in the Attic. The style and content of the show will certainly fit an attic vibe.’
An addition to this off-kilter atmosphere will be the live musical accompaniment they’re laying on. Pianist Chris Thomson has been dubbed as a Victorian hipster, all of which seems to gel nicely with the ye olde capital punishment ‘n’ gallows fun they’ve been alluding to. ‘We’re really excited about him playing live and dressed like that. I think the Victorians were the original hipsters, with the facial hair, the clothes and the penny farthings,’ notes Parker. ‘We’ll have some original songs but he’ll be underscoring the show as well. We like the idea of the Victorian aesthetic but there will also be a 1980s vibe too. We’ve written a gritty 80s northern crime drama sketch inspired by the Yorkshire Ripper.’
All of which sounds both entertaining and a mite chilling. But at least the crowd will be cloaked in the safety of darkness where they’ll be able to enjoy the show unaccosted. Or will they? ‘A lot of the time we interact with the audience, but if things ever go wrong we like to acknowledge that as well,’ states Norris. ‘We’ll probably have some stocks and a noose to warn any hecklers.’ Parker concludes, ‘there’ll be a nice threatening, menacing atmosphere. It’s the sign of a good comedy show if someone physically shits themselves.’
Norris & Parker: See You at the Gallows, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 6–28 Aug (not 21), 10.45pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£7–£8.50). Previews 3–5 Aug, £6.