Friday, April 11, 2014

Jim Norton: comedy's equal-opportunity offender

The busy comedian answers a few questions before his shows at Side Splitters.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 8:45 AM

click to enlarge UNCOMFORTABLY FUN: Jim Norton headlines Side Splitters this weekend.
  • UNCOMFORTABLY FUN: Jim Norton headlines Side Splitters this weekend.


Jim Norton is very comfortable making you uncomfortable.

From his appearances on Comedy Central roasts to his live shows, he's almost as likely to attract an "ooh" from the audience as much as laughter. And both sounds are music to the ears of a comedian, because it means the audience is listening and engaged in the discussion.

Throughout his career, Jim Norton has proven that when you put him in front of a mic, he's probably going to say something you'll want to hear — even (maybe especially) if you find it offensive. He's in town for a weekend at Side Splitters following his appearance at the roast of radio personality Cowhead/Mike Calta Thursday night, and we asked him a little bit about roasts, Red Eye and remembering a fellow performer.

CL: You're known for your performances at the Comedy Central roasts, and in addition to your comedy shows this weekend you'll be on the dais for the Cowhead Funeral Show and Roast. What's the secret to writing and performing for a roast?

Norton: The key is to not hold back. It’s the one time you can say anything you want, so make it count. I look at people I roast the way Jeffrey Dahmer looked at hitchhikers: I want to fuck them, kill them and then fuck them again.

You've also found a lot of success in radio, especially with The Opie & Anthony Show. What does radio allow you to do creatively that you can't do with other outlets?

You can take your time more because you don’t have 300 drunks staring at you. I love radio because it really allows you to explore something. It’s the in-between of writing and live stand-up.

click to enlarge VERBAL HEADLOCK: Jesse Ventura and Norton. - YOUTUBE
  • YOUTUBE
  • VERBAL HEADLOCK: Jesse Ventura and Norton.
You had a famous on-air argument with Jesse Ventura and you're a regular guest on Fox's Red Eye. Your comedy is about as far from politically correct as you can get, but do you consider yourself a political person? Where do you find the humor in politics?

I’m not really political in the sense that I hate both sides and try to attack them both. I find humor in politics the same place I find it everywhere else — in people’s hypocrisy, self-centeredness and complete inconsistency of morality.

After doing so much television and radio, what keeps bringing you back to live stand-up comedy?

I do love the audience reaction and the challenge every night. I love to try material and the best way to do that is to stand in front of an audience.

The possibility of sex after doesn't hurt, either.

You probably have fans who haven't seen you live (yet). What would surprise them about your show?

That I don’t get shot halfway through it.

The comedy world lost a good one in John Pinette, who passed away last Saturday. Any thoughts or stories?

He was a very sweet guy and a truly great comic. I only did one gig with him at a gala in Montreal. The crowd stunk and none of the comics did great ... except John. He closed the show and got a standing ovation.


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