In his latest standup comedy special for Netflix, Mouthful of Shame, comedian Jim Norton explains that his level of fame is such that people on the street recognize him but are unsure from where. “Did I see him onstage somewhere,” he quips in the special, “or did he follow me home?”
The irony is that Norton is just famous enough to employ Hollywood icon Robert De Niro for the film’s intro. The Academy Award winner twice slaps Norton in the face, hard, and then spanks a bare-assed Norton like a child bent over the knee of a parent.
This Saturday, May 5, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts will host the comedian's Kneeling Room Only national standup tour as well as a legion of fans who know precisely who Jim Norton is.
Known for cohosting the now-defunct radio show Opie and Anthony, guest-starring on the Joe Rogan Experience, and hosting The Jim Norton & Sam Roberts Show on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and the UFC podcast Unfiltered, Norton spoke with New Times ahead of his set this weekend. As always, he was unflinchingly straightforward on everything from prostitution and meeting his heroes to people in the news such as Louis C.K., Michelle Wolf, and Trump voters.
New Times: You’ve visited South Florida on several occasions. Have you had the chance to party or get weird here?
Jim Norton: I don’t do much when I’m on the road. I literally do the show and go back to my room. I’m like an old woman when I’m on the road. I’m really, really awful. It’s really nice down there, but I’m in and out. I don’t do much. I don’t go to the beach. My body is not made for the beach. I basically just sit in my room ashamed.
Did De Niro spank your bare ass before or after you were cast in The Irishman?
That was before. That was how he knew me. I think he recommended me for The Irishman. He knew I had a great ass, and I think he wanted to watch it wiggle around the set a little bit.
How has filming with him and Pacino and Pesci and all those guys been?
Well, I only did a one-day shoot. De Niro and Pesci were in my scene. I did not see Pacino unfortunately. It does not matter. It was still amazing to be on set with those guys and Scorsese. It does not get any more amazing than that.
You’ve met some of your heroes over the years — De Niro, Black Sabbath, Ron Jeremy. Did you ever think this was going to be your life?
All of Kiss. Ron Jeremy should be first. Yeah, I’ve met most of my heroes, and they’ve been nice to me. None of them have been a dick. You know, if you had told 15-year-old Jim Norton what grown-up Jim Norton would complain about, I would’ve spit on him. I can’t believe the things I bitch about now when my life is so good. I’ve met the people I want to meet. I have a really fun life.
The "Personal Life" section of your Wiki page has five sentences and mentions your favorite rock bands, Trump, supporting prostitution, and sleep apnea. It's ironic considering how much you share onstage and on the air. That being said, what do you want to be known for?
Oh, good. Those are the big ones. You know, you want to be known for being honest and making fun of yourself. I want to be honest, and I want people to think I’m funny. That’s all. You hope people like what you do.
You've never been shy about sharing personal experiences, no matter how wild. Are there times where you go, I'm gonna keep this one to myself and enjoy it.
I keep certain things to myself, like other people’s names and situations that would connect them to anything I’m doing. That’s all I keep private. Other people’s information, I do not release.
Unbridled honesty is how you've carved out your career. It seems to be that Trump was elected for much the same reason. Do you ever sympathize with voters who feel duped since then?
No, I don’t know that they’re gonna feel duped. Some of them may. I think, pretty much, he is the guy that people voted for were hoping for. I don’t think he’s duping his people any more than any politician dupes people. I’m sure anyone who votes for anyone is slightly disappointed. I’m sure a lot of them are pretty happy with him.
Any thoughts on the Michelle Wolf set from the White House Correspondents' Dinner?
Well, I like Michelle. She’s a friend of mine. I always like when people in the media and politicians are made uncomfortable. The bottom line is, the fact that people are upset that a comedian was a little mean, people should just go fuck themselves and shut up. Who cares? I don’t care who she was mean to — whether it's Sarah Huckabee Sanders or a liberal, I don’t care who it is — the fact that a comedian was too mean is just laughable.
In a perfect world, they would book you for next year. How long do you think they would let you stand onstage?
Less than three minutes. I would do it, though. It would be fun to do it even if it didn’t work. It would still be a fun story.
You did an interview last year where you said you're leading a quieter life and that you’ve given up seeing prostitutes. Was that a conscious decision or something that comes with age?
Naturally with age. You get bored. You get bored behaving a certain way, doing a certain thing. It isn’t like I did it for any social reasons. I still believe prostitution should be legal. I don’t think the government should tell you you can’t do that. But, no, man, it really was just, as life goes on, the way you look at things changes.”
You toured internationally last year in several places you’d never been before. Was there anywhere new you visited that made you rethink or reflect on preconceived notions?
Yeah, they were a lot nicer than I thought they were. Bill Burr was right, and I’m an idiot. That’s pretty much what it is. Bill Burr told me: “Go! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Bill Burr fucking screaming at me... He was totally right.
Your friend Colin Quinn recently had a heart attack, and another friend of yours, Patrice O’Neal, passed away suddenly a few years back. When you hear shitty news like that, what’s the first thing that runs through your head? Is it jokes to cope and to make yourself or others feel better?
No, I try and look at their calendar and try and book up the shows they can no longer do. That’s what I do, calling all these venues.
It also makes you grateful, like, hey, man, I’m lucky right now. I’ve got health. It makes you appreciate your friends too because you know they could drop dead at any time. It never gets easier, though. It gets more common, but it doesn’t get easier. You never get used to hearing your friends are in ill health.
Let’s discuss another one of your friends. Do you think things would have played out differently for Louis C.K. if he was as honest about his sexual vices onstage as you often are?
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You know, I don’t know. I don’t know what people’s feelings were right after. I don’t know if that would have helped or meant anything. He’s such a big target — it might not have mattered at all. A lot of times, I think, if you tell people about you, it takes the joy of them getting you out. They feel less satisfied nailing you because you’ve already told them yourself. But I don’t know. Louis is such a big name that maybe they just wanted to go after a big name.
Finally, what is one thing you would like people to know about you?
That I have a rare disease and the only way to cure it is by giving me a blowjob.
Jim Norton. 7 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; browardcenter.org. Tickets cost $32 via ticketmaster.com.