There are many ways to describe Jim Norton’s act: raw, unfiltered, no-holds-barred. The press release practically writes itself. As I was driving to Buffalo, New York, I passed the time waiting for our phone call by listening to Norton’s shows, and some simpler, more accurate adjectives came to mind: plain, honest, human.
The wonderful thing about Norton’s comedy is that it frees you up to feel comfortable thinking the things you think. When someone has the courage to say them aloud, it makes it easier for the average person to accept what goes on in his head. Like, yeah—semen does taste gross!
In preparation for his July 21st show at the Capitol Theatre, the fourth-to-last stop on his Mouthful of Shame Tour, Jim was kind enough to give me a call and chop it up a bit. Not sure I would have made it to Buffalo without veering into oncoming traffic without him.
I don’t like doing interviews, and I hate talking on the telephone. But at the risk of sounding like a sycophant, I have to admit that I got excited for this. I really do like your work. Thanks, man, that’s wonderful to hear.
I’m sure you get it all the time. And it’s still nice.
How many shows do you have on this tour? Twenty? About that. I’ve done a lot of them already—kind of coming up on the back end now.
And you have to do at least one of these interviews in every town you go to, right? Yeah.
So that’s like seven-and-a-half hours you have to spend with schmucks like me yakking about the same bullshit, over and over again. Well, that’s one way of looking at it.
Jesus, that’s awful. It’s still less than a single eight-hour day for working people. I don’t think I’m going to get a lot of sympathy.
Working people are morons, Jim. But they come to my shows.
Fair point. So I see you have a show in Orlando coming up. I do.
What are you, ah…what are you gonna talk about? Me, my life, the gorilla shooting, Donald Trump. I mean, if I have something meaningful to say about the Orlando shooting, if it’s something I can make funny, I’ll do it.
Something about alligators with children in their bellies, maybe? That just happened a few days ago, so I don’t really have anything on that yet. The tough part is finding a place for it in the act. It’s got to make sense. But no topic is off limits.
So it’s all new stuff, this act? All new. I still go down to the Comedy Cellar every night I can and work on it.
How old are you now? Forty-seven.
How do you deal with getting older? How do you keep yourself from going soft? Will you still be talking about dirty, perverted shit when you’re fifty-seven? You know, comedians do tend to soften up that way, but that’s normal. You get older, your interests change. The fact is, life gets better. It’s hard to bitch about the things you bitched about when you were younger. What am I going to do, get up there and complain that I’m broke? I’m not broke. I won’t be fifty-seven years old talking about the same things as I am now either. I’ve said all of that before. Whatever it is, it just needs to be real. I hate forced anger in an act. It’s the worst.
Have you ever performed at the Capitol Theater before? I’ve been to Columbus several times, but I haven’t been to this venue. I’m looking forward to it. I love Columbus.
It’s easy to love when you get to leave in the morning. Yeah, it’s like having a niece or a nephew. You get to hang out, have a good time with them, and then beat it.
You want me to work on that phrasing? No, you can write it up just like that.
For more details about Jim or the Mouthful of Shame Tour,