Jim Norton is candid. Heâ€™s emotionally honest. Heâ€™s also prone to being alarmingly blunt about topics that many would consider taboo to discuss in polite company.
â€śWhatâ€™s always made me laugh is when people say things you canâ€™t believe that theyâ€™re saying,â€ť Norton says. â€śNot because itâ€™s shocking, but because itâ€™s insightful â€” or the truth that you had thought and were afraid to say.â€ť
As the third member of the shock-jock â€śOpie and Anthonyâ€ť radio show, author of two New York Times best-selling books and a longtime stand-up comic, Norton delivers raunchy stories of his sexual exploits, self-deprecating remembrances and topical observations that are brutal in their wit and language. But if you follow Norton long enough, youâ€™ll find the warm person beneath the rough exterior. And heâ€™s happy to show that vulnerability.
â€śYou want to be a complete human being onstage,â€ť Norton says. â€śFor me, the funnier stuff tends to be the harsher stuff, because thatâ€™s always what made me laugh. The warmer stuff is harder to portray onstage without being cheesy or without looking like you are whoring for applause breaks.â€ť
Though Norton is a frequent contributor to â€śThe Tonight Show,â€ť his habit of talking about whatever comes to mind has held him back from wider acceptance.
â€śItâ€™s not languageÂ â€” itâ€™s content,â€ť he says. â€śYou canâ€™t make fun of race anymore. Weâ€™re an apology-obsessed nation of babies. You canâ€™t touch any content that will offend a special-interest group. I love to talk about stuff like that.â€ť
Some bits are sure to elicit equal-opportunity offense: â€śIâ€™m doing a lot of Jerry Sandusky stuff now,â€ť he says. â€śSo that tends to get kinda dark.â€ť
Sandusky jokes will be a part of the set heâ€™ll work through this weekend at the DC Improv in preparation for his next stand-up special, â€śPlease Be Offended,â€ť due to air soon on the EPIX network and later on Comedy Central. But itâ€™s Nortonâ€™s personal stories â€” the raw and embarrassing ones â€” that are at the heart of his comedy.
â€śI can always talk about Jim Norton completely uniquely,â€ť he says. â€śAlso, because if I expose it, you canâ€™t hurt me with it. Once I say it, thereâ€™s nothing you can do to hurt me with it.â€ťDC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW; Thu.-Sat., see Dcimprov.com for showtimes, $22; 202-296-7008. (Farragut North)