Having Fun on the High Seas with Max Norman

Move over Silver, Hook, and Sparrow, there’s a new pirate taking to the high seas. And it’s all of us. I talked to Max Norman to find out why it’s time we release our inner pirates.

Be more pirate!

To start us off, can you summarise A Pirate’s Life for Me in a single sentence?

Forget the outside world and dive into a thrilling adventure on the high seas as a crew member of a pirate ship.

Sounds a lot of fun and clearly allows you to draw on your skills in clowning. How do you explain clowning to people who think it’s just big shoes and custard pies?

Clowning is all about playing, imagination, taking risks and being instinctive. You get into this state of flow where you don't think. It's an amazing feeling.

To be a clown is to be ridiculous and free. For me, it's also THE purest form of comedy. It makes your soul erupt with laughter before your mind has comprehended what's going on. It makes your stomach and face hurt. It's a struggle to breathe.

It's enormously invigorating and nourishing for the human spirit. What could be better than that?

How did you get into clowning?

It happened by accident. I'd just quit my corporate job after a 5-year grind and was wondering what to do next with my life.

Then a friend sent an article about a theatre school near Paris with a reputation for comedy (Max trained at École Philippe Gaulier). A month later and we were running through a medieval French town late for our very first lesson.

It was only when I was there that I discovered what clowning is and how fun it was to do and watch.

What inspired A Pirate’s Life…?

A friend had a pirate-themed 30th birthday party which was wild and a huge amount of fun. It seemed to release something in all of us adults. I remember I was stumbling through the surf at 6 a.m. with a parrot on my shoulder, barking profanities and jabbing a wooden spoon at an imaginary adversary.

I recorded this pirate character and put in on socials and people liked it, so I started developing it at comedy nights.

Then I thought “What if I go on an adventure but take the audience with me as my crew?”. And voila, the concept for the show was born.

What will the adults get out of the show?

An hour of raucous fun that will fill your cup to the brim with joy.

It's one big invitation to play, laugh, enjoy something stupid and recapture what it was like to be a kid: the feeling of freedom, that everything is possible, that adventure is out there ALL the time.

It's also packed with '90s nostalgia. Come with an open mind and heart and you'll have a great time.

In exactly 50 words, tell our readers why they should book to see A Pirate’s Life for Me when it plays Underbelly, Cowgate from 3rd – 27th August (except 14th)?

Come to this show and be more pirate! Adventure into the unknown. Surprise someone with a wooden spoon ambush and a loud 'Aha!'.

Take risks, have fun, laugh, be stupid.

It's not important what age you are. This is a show for EVERYONE. Because deep down everyone loves to play.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this article has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now