Friday, March 18, 2011

The Wilbur: Jim Norton is Despicable

Jim Norton plays two shows at
The Wilbur tonight
Jim Norton recorded his new CD, Despicable, in Boston. The New Jersey native is comfortable here. Boston has long been one of Norton’s go-to cities, a place where he started drawing theater crowds early in his career. Boston crowds appreciate his darker side, whether he’s talking about his dalliances with transsexuals or describing Britney Spears’ genitalia. They’ve known Norton long enough not to be shocked.

Despicable is a good snapshot of who Norton is as a comedian, taking on gay bashers and race issues, with a great piece on "bombing etiquette" for anyone who tries to be funny in their everyday life. You also get a glimpse into Norton's personal life in the liner notes, with photos of his IDs and a newspaper clipping of a story about young Jim trying to beat the local record on Asteroids.

Norton is back in Boston tonight at The Wilbur. The early show is sold out, but as of Friday morning, there may be seats for the later show. You can also hear him frequently on the Opie and Anthony show on Sirius Radio. "Having more fun on SiriusXM than I EVER did on regular radio," he says. "It’s an amazing platform."

I caught up with Norton via e-mail while he was taping a segment for The Tonight Show to air next week.

What are you taping for Leno? When will that air?

I taped a spring break piece in Florida which airs this Tuesday. I was the creepy older guy on the beach. Unintentionally.

How difficult is it to translate your humor to network TV? I feel like, rather than just chopping language, censors would have problems with the concepts of a lot of your material.

Depends on the show. Leno is great because of all the late night shows, they let me do the edgiest material by far. I’ve gotten away with lines on that show that I NEVER could have done on other shows.

Was Despicable one take of the same show, or a mix of a couple of different shows?

It was taken from a couple of different shows. It’s currently the number two comedy CD in the country. (In sales. As far as content, it’s probably somewhere in the low 70s).

What made you record at the Connection?

I truly love Boston crowds. They’re very cranky white people, but they listen to the material. Probably my favorite city to perform in.

Are those real IDs on the sleeve?

They really are, yes. My new passport photo is in there, too (it’s the one where I’m kind of biting my lip, looking not unlike a rapist.

Kind of dickish for the writer on the Asteroids piece you included inside to note you weren’t playing on the “more deadly deluxe” machine.

Yes, it was. ‘Deluxe Asteroids” sucked. It was only deadlier because no one wanted to play it long enough to get good.

That’s quite a gallery of thank-yous in the liner notes – Sean Hannity, Louis CK, Kevin Smith, Marc Maron, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Levy. Do these people ever inhabit the same space, or are they all separate worlds in a way?

They’re all people who have helped me along the way, and they’re all uniquely mentally ill.

You had a great conversation with Maron on WTF about sexuality – what kind of feedback do you get from fans about that material? Do people think you’re making it up for the act?

People generally love it because they know it’s coming from an honest place. (Except for the tranny stories of course, I MADE THEM ALL UP). (no i didn’t)

Do you find your fans fall mostly in any one place on the political spectrum? It seems you have definite opinions, but you’re rarely explicitly political, and you say things that people on the left and on the right might be uncomfortable with.

I think they come from both sides. I embrace certain aspects of both ideologies, but don’t really respect either. As a comic, I never worry about offending the beliefs of the audience. If you can’t laugh at an opinion just because you don’t agree with it, then fuck you.

Any word on appearing on season two of Louie?

Louie has requested a few cock pics from me and I have sent. Waiting to hear back…

Jim Norton: 7:30PM and 10PM. $20-$33. The Wilbur Theatre, 246 Tremont St., Boston. 866.448.7849

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