Garden State comic Jim Norton in town this weekend for three sold-out shows
Speaking with comedian Jim Norton recently made me miss my old high school buddies from back home. It conjured up memories of us guys gathered around in our leather jackets, smoking cigarettes in the parking lot of the train station, talking about heavy metal and girls.
Born and raised in North Brunswick, N.J., Norton is a regular, working class guy who just happens to be very funny. His self-deprecating, honest and sometimes disgusting humor has earned him a gig on the Opie and Anthony radio show (now on XM Satellite), his own HBO specials, as well as the role of Rich, the buddy to Louis C.K.'s Louie on HBO's now-defunct Lucky Louie. He has also authored his own autobiography called Happy Endings: Tales of a Meaty Breasted Zilch. Now, after years of honing his craft on the stand-up circuit, Norton is finally getting the recognition and headline status that he has worked so hard to achieve. His three shows at Borgata this weekend are all listed as sell-outs.
What was it like growing up in New Jersey?
Jersey kinda gets [expletive] on; you know how that is. We get dumped on. [But] it was great; it was like growin' up anywhere else. There was really no racial strife, just a bunch of happy-go-lucky suburban white people.
Did you ever go to the Jersey Shore as a kid?
Not really. That was always a place of low self-esteem and self-hatred for me, with the beach. Chicks hated me. I looked disgusting in a bathing suit. ... I kind of avoided any place I'd have to be shirtless.
Do you have a girlfriend, and does she have to sign a waiver so you can talk about her in your act?
A lot of times I'm not talking about her; I'm talking about my past experiences, and she hates the fact that people think I'm actually talking about her.
What's your girlfriend like?
She's actually a really nice girl. Sexually, she's normal. She's certainly not a prude, but she's not a filth bag. It's kind of weird dating a normal girl. My past is a problem for her sometimes.
Is Ozzy Osbourne your favorite rock star?
Oh yeah, by far.
I noticed a photo of you and him on your Web site. What was it like meeting him?
He's always very nice. I met him a few times. I got a picture with [Black] Sabbath as a band. They are the most humble, down-to-earth guys. They are from the slums, and from average upbringings. None of them are elitist or snotty. Ozzy is hilarious.
How has your appreciation of porn and heavy metal affected your comedy?
Well, I don't know. I'm very aggressive. I'm fairly honest, and I think that's been really helpful. If you're really honest with people, I think they'll take however dark you wanna get, as long as they know you're coming from a true place.
How did you make a living before comedy?
I was in warehouse work. It was awful. It was horrible. Driving a forklift or on a copper truck. I worked for a copper company. It really blew.
When did you start making a living in comedy?
It took years. It was a slow process, man. I started back in 1990. And I sucked for a long time. Other comedians were good to me. Andrew "Dice" Clay was really good to me, and then of course he took me to Opie and Anthony who were great to me. But, it's just, you've gotta be able to give up your personal life, ya know what I mean? Too many guys wanna have a great personal life, they wanna go out with their stupid girlfriends, and they wanna have fun [on] New Year's Eve, and they wanna see their dumb families. And then, well, all right ... don't wonder why you aren't getting anywhere. You've gotta realize your personal life is gonna be [expletive]. And it's worth it.
Where do you see your career going?
It's hard to say. Stand-up and radio are my two [favorites]. I wanna do more stuff for HBO. I'm always gonna do stand-up. And I love doing radio. I don't trust radio because it's so easy to get in big trouble, as you know we have many times. I don't trust the longevity of radio just because there always seems to be something that can ruin your career. But I do love doing it.
What do you think of satellite radio?
I think people love the fact that it's uncensored. Terrestrial radio all over the country has become so conservative. It's the worst time for radio to be conservative.
What happened to Lucky Louie?
Well, the scumbag critics didn't like it. We should not have been cancelled. I really have gotten a tremendous amount of feedback from that show. More than anything else in my career. And HBO doesn't make many mistakes, [but] I think cancelling that show was a mistake.
Have you performed in Atlantic City before?
Yes, many times at the Borgata.
During the spring of 2006, three months before Lucky Louie premiered on HBO, it was obvious that Louis C.K. was on his way to becoming the hardest working man in show business.
"Yeah, we all get along super well and whatever, but there are no stories like ‘Oh, and then Nick Offerman slashed everyone’s tires.’ Ya know? Like, this is not a thing. It’s just not like everyone’s pulling pranks and doing goofy stuff all the time."
“I was honored that he chose to direct Long Story Short. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think [Seinfeld] was going to be as involved as he was. I thought he would do some things, but he exceeded my expectations."
If there were any doubts about how the Anti-Social Network tour would be received, those fears were squashed Friday night, Jan. 15, at the Borgata in Atlantic City, following the tour's debut show. Around 5:30pm, the four comedians on the bill — Bill Burr, Jim Breuer, Dave Attell, and the show's host comedian Jim Norton — appeared together ....
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