Abnormally, Karl heads out of Norfolk
The Nimmo Twins are well established in this region, but now Karl Minns is poised to take his comic talents to a bigger arena. He spoke to Keiron Pim ahead of this week’s festival appearances.
Their run of Normal for Norfolk comedy shows have become something of a Norwich Christmas institution over the past decade, hilariously observing the idiosyncrasies of life in our county.
And ahead of the Nimmo Twins' three-night run of "best of" shows that kick off tomorrow evening as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, writer and performer Karl Minns has had a timely boost in finding a wider audience for his work.
"Two days ago I signed with Avalon," said Karl.
Avalon are the UK's foremost comedy promoters, the company behind virtually all the top stars. Frank Skinner, Harry Hill, David Baddiel and Dave Gorman are just a few of the names on their books. Now, after "four months of sweating" since Avalon reps viewed his Christmas show, Karl Minns can be added to the list.
As soon as he and Owen Evans have finished the festival shows, entitled Normal for Norfolk 9½: Please... Norfolk 'n More, Karl is heading down to London for meetings with a view to establishing himself nationally as a comedy writer.
Though this development does not necessarily spell the end for the Nimmo Twins' annual shows, it is clear Karl is weighing up his options and looking to explore new territory.
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"We are committed to doing Normal for Norfolk 10. Whether I want to carry on indefinitely I don't know. I have been drifting somewhat, I've been without an agent for a year," he said.
"We had a good five to seven years, we had a good run. There have been a number of factors - bad management, bad decisions. I think the Nimmos will stay here, but on a pers-onal level as a writer I would like to have a national profile.
"We have talked about doing it every two years if it's going stale. I don't think either of us would want to be doing this in our 40s, dressing up and playing 22-year-old Catton girls."
Karl's portrayal of such a fast-talking, morally dubious city girl - catchphrase "she goo" and fluent in pure Norwich dialect - has invited plenty of suggestions by fans that his idea has been ripped off by Little Britain star Matt Lucas, whose "yeah-but-no-but" character Vicky Pollard bears more than a passing resemblance to his creation. Karl's having none of it, however.
"Other people have been more annoyed about it than me. My annoyance about Vicky Pollard was not about Matt Lucas - it happens, it's obviously a zeitgeist-y character, and I don't think he has seen our show."
Karl's frustration is more that his character is better developed, with more depth than Lucas's creation, and predates it by years - but he won't be able to use it at a national level because people would think he was copying Little Britain.
He added: "Far be it from me to accuse anyone of plagiarism, I've been far from innocent in the early years of my career.
"Mind you, if I had a penny for every time someone said, 'Little Britain ripped you off' I wouldn't need to work again."
Karl and Owen's partnership as the Nimmo Twins evolved out of their work with Norwich's Crude Apache theatre group. Karl, a former Great Yarmouth High School student, joined after dropping out of college and then working in the coastal town printing fruit-machine covers before going on the dole.
"I was always into comedy. I adore Leonard Rossiter, Eric Morecambe, Les Dawson, the Two Ronnies: I'm a child of the 70s.
"I didn't know I could write until I joined Crude Apache."
Now he is in an excellent position to capitalise on his talent, although he stresses that this does not equate to wanting to be recognised walking down the street.
"I have got no interest in being famous anymore. Everyone's famous these days, there's no kudos in it!
"If I could be in a room full of writers and feel I was contributing to something fantastic, then that would be great - that's the way you get better, by working with people better than you, and that's what I need because there's plenty of people better than me."
Possibilities of work on the horizon include a new Radio 4 series called Moon Monkeys, set on the night shift in a 24- hour garage, and writing for a new Channel 4 sketch show called Men and Women.
"As soon as the Normal for Norfolk show is done, I'm going for meetings to get things back on track," he explained.
This week's shows will be the Nimmos' longest yet, running to 2¼ hours with an interval. While the majority of the material is recycled from earlier shows, Karl is confident that it will still be new to much of the audience at the Playhouse Theatre.
"I think because the audience has grown in the last few years, most people will never have seen the Edinburgh stuff or Normal for Norfolk 1-5.
"The earliest sketch is from 1996 and there's a fair smattering of last year's show, because that was pretty good.
"Some of what we think was the funniest stuff was very relevant to a certain time, very topical. It's impossible to do those kind of sketches again.
"When groups do a 'best of' it's normally at the end of their career. I'm hoping this is the end of a bit of my career and the beginning of a new one."
For more information about Norfolk and Norwich Festival events call 01603 766400 or visit www.n-joy.org.uk