Interview – Jim Norton

Interview – Jim Norton

Laughter is something everyone can find comfort in while pushing through the stress of everyday life. While some enjoy basking in the jokes, others enjoy creating them, and New Jersey native Jim Norton has been doing such since his teenage years. Beginning his career as a stand-up comic, Norton quickly found his stride bringing audiences a unique unforgiving brand of comedy he could call his own. Joining up with The Opie and Anthony Show over a decade ago, he has become a fixture of comedy ever since hosting a slew of Comedy stand-up specials, authoring best selling books, starring in films, and continuous touring. Recently we caught up with Jim Norton for a personal look at his beginnings in Comedy, his love for Metal music, future plans, and much more. – You began your career in Comedy some two decades ago and have seen a great deal of success both in stand-up and in the radio world as a part of The Opie and Anthony show.  Tell us what first inspired you to get into Comedy?

Jim Norton – I always liked making people laugh and it was the only way girls would ever look at me.  I was kind of a nerdy fat kid with dandruff. I was really a creep, the only way girls noticed me was when I made them laugh. Then I was watching Richard Pyror in concert on HBO and I understood that is what I wanted to do with being funny.  I was always obsessed with comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield and George Carlin. I would record Robert Klein when he was on the tonight show. When I saw Richard Pyror live in concert, that convinced me that stand-up was where I wanted to go.

Eat A Bullet

Eat A Bullet


BSEENMEDIA – Obviously, it is a good outlet to express yourself and perhaps hide insecurities.

Jim Norton – Well, I highlight my insecurities.  It does not hide insecurities; I basically take them and put them out like the way people hung laundry in the 1800s. Maybe it is a way of hiding from them, by highlighting in plain sight and making them obvious.  When I talk about all my insecurities, it is the only way I can live with them. – That is understandable.  It seems things really went to another level for you back in 2000 when you became a regular part of the O & A show.  The run has had its ups and downs, obviously with the suspensions and recently losing Anthony this past summer. How would you describe the experience of being on the radio as long as you have?

Jim Norton – I love performing on the radio.  It is a lot harder without Anthony, and I miss him a lot.  It is a tremendous adjustment because he is such a funny guy.  I love doing interviews, I love telling jokes, topically and randomly.  I love the idea of talking through a microphone and people hearing you.  It is probably my favorite thing I have done next to stand-up in my career.  It keeps you always thinking of what is in the news and what is happening, because you have to talk about different things every day.  You cannot do the same jokes you did today that you did yesterday.  You have to change it up a lot.  It keeps your mind working fast and it definitely has made me a much better comic.

HBO Studios

HBO Studios


Epix – It is absolutely a different medium than doing stand-up.  Do you find it difficult separating the radio show from the live stand-up shows?

Jim Norton – No, not at all.  I do not talk about the radio show on the stage because it is a different part of my brain.  Stand-up helps with the radio because it made me faster when you are in front of a live audience and if you have a heckler you have to deal with them.  The radio show has made me a better comedian because you are always focusing on topical events and talking about them, so your mind is naturally thinking of them.  By the time you get on stage that night, you already have some ideas formulated. – That makes a lot of sense. You have authored a number of books and done quite a few comedy specials. As you mentioned, you do not really hide from things and you hang your insecurities out there for everyone to see as well as you always had a very honest approach with your comedy. Is that sort of shamelessness something you learn as a comic early on, or did you have to overcome the fear of bringing that to audiences?

Jim Norton – It is one of those things that when I was first doing open mics, the thing that made the other comedians laugh the hardest is when I talked about hookers, my own negativity, and things that were wrong with me.  So I began to start to embrace that part of it because it felt original and pure to talk about that stuff.  As you move on, you learn how to make it funnier for the audience.  It is the way that I figure everything I talk about is truly mine and I can own.  I know I did not get it from other people, because I am telling stories usually from my own life.  It also made me feel very original because I knew where the material was coming from.


Gallery Books


Gallery Books – Right, because it came from your own experiences and from the heart.  You will actually be doing a few shows coming up at the end of the month in Tempe, Arizona then at Foxwoods in Connecticut in February.  How has 2015 been going thus far for you with your stand-up shows?

Jim Norton – I just taped my new stand-up special last week in Boston, it should be airing sometime in April.  My next stops are in Tempe, Arizona and at Foxwoods in Connecticut.  Then I have some other stuff coming up on the road with Artie Lange.  I am doing less road shows now because I am working on new material.  It is time to work on a new hour because I just shot one.  Every time I do that, the first thing I do is begin working on new stuff. – That sounds great, so I guess you can say that 2015 is starting off pretty well for you.

Jim Norton – January is always a busy month, so yes it is starting off like every January.  You never want to start off January empty, that sucks. – Exactly, who wants to be slow in the beginning of a new year.  Now you are also going to be at the Ozzfiesta in Mexico, what is that show all about?

Jim Norton – Yes Ozzy is the final night headliner.  One night myself and Jim Florentine are doing a comedy show.  Zach Wylde from Black Label Society is doing an acoustic show.  It is going to be great, there will be meet and greets.  Just to hang with Ozzy for a week, they are paying me for it, but honestly they did not have to.  I am just happy to be doing it.

ozzfiesta1 – It sounds like an awesome show to be a part of.  You host Norton’s Obsessed on Ozzy’s Boneyard.  Considering you are a massive Ozzy fan, how amazing is that for you to be able to share your favorite Rock/Metal with listeners and be associated with Ozzy?

Jim Norton – It is great.  I was on the Boneyard before it was Ozzy and they told me Ozzy Osborne will be taking over the channel.  It really is odd to be working for your idol. He and Sharon run the channel, they have a say on everything that happens, so it is awesome.  They really do let you play what you want on satellite.  SiriusXM is great for that, not once have they come to me and tell me not to play something.  I let the listeners make the playlist for real.  Every fake radio station says we are going to let you pick what you play, and they do not. I take letters from guys in prison, they name thirteen Metal songs they want to hear.  I read their email and I play the songs in the order they requested.  So it is a great association to have with Ozzy, he is my favorite person.




Epic – That is what is great about satellite, they play the stuff people want to hear.  You look at other channels on SiriusXM like Octane, they play new Hard Rock terrestrial radio is not even touching.

Jim Norton – Yes, and it is a shame because regular radio listen to a few dumb consultants who failed in radio.  They do not need to listen to them, they can be original and do it their own way.  I do not know why they insist on listening to these guys who do not know what they are talking about. – Yes, it is kind of sad because, especially on the new music front, it seems regular radio snubs a lot of new Rock and Metal bands.  Satellite has definitely picked up the slack on that and are giving people a chance to hear a lot of new bands.

Jim Norton – Satellite really does give you the freedom creatively.  As a comedian, the content we have, total freedom in what we talk about, it is not a perfect place, but it is a lot better than regular radio.  I would rather be there so much more than regular radio. – Absolutely, one can imagine and artists would agree with you.  As mentioned, you have a love for Metal and Rock.  What  first got you into Metal music and what do you think makes Rock-N-Roll so magical?

Jim Norton – I do not know if it is magical compared to other music, because I think everyone feels what they like is the proper genre.  For me, it was KISS, they were larger than life and like super heroes.  I was very young in 1975 and they were larger than life gods, so I think KISS is really what got me into it.  I do not know what it is about music that really resonates with you.  Why do some people like Jazz so much, when I would rather listen to audio from an ISIS video than Jazz. I do not know why!  It is just one of those things that reaches you or it does not.  For some reason, Metal such as Black Sabbath, those songs reach me, where Jazz does not.  I do not know what makes it that way for me. – Right, sometimes we just do not know why things affect us.  Music is strange like that, it affects us in many ways but we cannot explain it half the time.

Jim Norton – We do not always know why.  It is one of those things where it just is. Why do certain things turn us on?  Why do we see a girl with big dark brown areoles and say that is hot.  Why do I like big vaginas…I really do, I like a giant vagina, I have no idea why.  It is one of those things that what turns you on is not always explainable. – (laughs) That is very true, sometimes you have to just take things for what they are and not analyst it too much.  Obviously since you have that love for music, do you have a favorite concert memory?

Jim Norton – My dad took me to see KISS in 1978 when I was a kid.  That was my first concert so that might be my favorite.  Even though we were way up in the nosebleeds, I anticipated that show.  It was a December show and my dad got tickets over the summer!  You had to get KISS tickets six months in advance back then.  I have been to better shows and ones that meant more to me as an adult; I went to see Black Sabbath when they first came back in 1999 with Bill Ward, although, I would say that first KISS concert with my dad is probably the best.




Casablanca – Yes, sometimes the experiences with your dad are the most memorable.  You clearly have a love for the classic Rock and Metal such as Black Sabbath, KISS, and Motorhead.  Are there any particular modern Metal bands that you like?

Jim Norton – You know, I do not really listen to modern music.  It is not out of snubbing it, it literally is I am stuck in what I like.  Sometimes I will hear something like Buckcherry and say wow that was good.  I like Five Finger Death Punch a lot.  I am just kind of stuck on what I like, but there is no hidden reason for it. – Yes, Five Finger Death Punch is one of the biggest newer Metal bands around right now.  New is really objective, some people may think a band that has been around ten years is new.

Jim Norton – Right, I was just looking through the paper and I am surprised I do not see A Clockwork Orange listed. It really is bizarre how stuck in the past I am. – (laughs) My last question for you is pertaining to movies. covers music and Horror films.  If you are a fan of Horror films what are some of your favorite Horror films?

Jim Norton – I would have to say The Exorcist (1973).  I hate to go with such a predictable choice, but it truly was a horrifying movie. – Yes, that movie is terrifying.  There is something really frightening about it, from the music to the dialogue.

Jim Norton – Yes, it had a tremendously frightening vibe to it, the entire film.  When Damien was having that dream about his mother going down the steps in the subway.  There was just an ominous feeling you got watching the entire film.  You know what else scared me?  The Ring (2002) scared the shit out of me.  When I was a kid, Salem’s Lot (1979) scared me.  It probably would not scare me now.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

the ring poster

DreamWorks Pictures – Sometimes those movies, when you watch them as a kid, they are scary. When you get older they do not translate well.  The Exorcist (1973) certainly does though. Another film, which is not Horror per say, but is pretty frightening, is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey (1968).  That solitude it displays, it is really striking.

Jim Norton – Kubrick did a great job with that. He captured the interaction between machines and people, it was a really brilliant foresight to the way we were going to interact.  Now you talk to Siri into the iPhone, and while it does not think necessarily, it will sooner or later.

Tour Dates:
1-30-15 Tempe, AZ – Improve  BUY TICKETS
1-31-15 Tempe, AZ – Improve BUY TICKETS
2-13-15 Manshantucket, CT – Foxwoods Casino BUY TICKETS 
5-27-31-15 Riviera Maya, Mexico – Hard Rock Hotel – Ozzfiesta BUY TICKETS


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