Jim Norton Will Tell You About His Sex Life, as Long as You Promise to Laugh

Jim Norton
Jim Norton courtesy Jim Norton
Jim Norton will perform at Texas Theatre this Friday, Sept. 29
Comedian Jim Norton can't remember the first embarrassing, sexually perverted story he told. All he remembers is where it happened and that two other comics found it hilarious.

"It was a Radisson hotel [in New Jersey] that had a comedy open-mic and I remember comedian Jim Florentine and Bob Levy were there and I remember those guys laughing at the honesty of what I was talking about sexually," Norton says. "I don't remember what it was but I remember the reaction from those guys made me go, 'Wow, there really is something to being honest.'"

The uninformed would label Norton as a shock comic. But if you're sitting in a seat at the Texas Theatre this Friday, it's his cutting wit, sniper-grade timing and smart writing that will make you laugh.

"Sometimes there is a shock to hear certain things and I don't know why," Norton says. "None of it's that surprising but they are a little shocked and sometimes they can relate to it and sometimes they can't believe someone's talking about, but in all honesty, I never want to shock them. I just want them to laugh and have a good time with it."

Norton is also one-half of SiriusXM's Jim Norton and Sam Roberts Show, a satellite-fed news, comedy and celebrity interview show that gives him his own chance to dissect the minds of famous people while accepting nothing but the truth.

He's not only talked to fellow comedians like Jim Jeffries, Craig Ferguson and Maria Bamford but he and Roberts have also had some very memorable sitdowns with people like sportscaster Joe Buck, actor Billy Bob Thornton and former CNN Headline News host Nancy Grace, who walked off the show when she felt they were "too anxious to throw a shot at me."

"Sometimes it's just fun to have different people to talk to like it is in life," Norton says. "Other times, it's an interesting take with a guy I've seen on TV or in the movies so it's just kind of fun to have a guy or a woman who I've admired in a different field discussing stuff other than the work that I'm used to."

Listening to Norton and Roberts' show is interesting no matter who's in the chair next to them because it also shows just how much the medium has changed in the last 20 years. Norton got his start in radio on the controversial Opie and Anthony show alongside Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia, which left terrestrial radio in 2002 after their infamous "Sex for Sam" contest led to a couple having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Opie and Anthony made the jump from New York's WNEW-FM home base in New York to satellite radio two years later but that show ended with drama, too. SiriusXM fired Cumia in 2014 over a series of Twitter comments directed at an African-American woman, which the broadcast network described as "racially charged and hate-filled."

Hughes left the airwaves after Cumia, following some tense on-air moments between him and Norton. Hughes accused Norton and Roberts of plotting against him before SiriusXM fired Hughes last July. Subsequent reports revealed Hughes may have been fired for filming a female employee in an office restroom.

Norton says he misses "the idea of The Opie & Anthony Show and I miss Anthony in particular. I miss him a lot." He and Cumia still do guest spots on each other's new respective shows, and Norton is even writing the foreword to Cumia's new book.

"It's not nearly as crazy as it used to be, but I think a lot of what was acceptable in radio is not acceptable anymore," Norton says. "You'll get fired for things you used to not get fired for, so you have to kind of change that because if you don't, you'll end up losing your gig. So it's unfortunate but I think our show is funny, and I think the interviews are good. I really do enjoy doing the interviews so much and I have fun with Sam. He's a fun guy."

These days, Norton is also focused on a growing acting career that's gone from a memorable cameo as an angry New Yorker in Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie to a more dramatic turn in the Starz series Power as Father Callahan, a character who appeared in the show's first two gritty seasons. He also says he just filmed some scenes for a Showtime series, but he isn't able to talk about it yet.

Growing as a comedian is still important to him because "I don't want to take for granted that I'm as far now as I'm going to go."

Norton says he can still have a bad show, like a recent run at the famed Friars Club in New York City, but he's learned not to let it get to him and keep him from wanting to get better. He's learned his confidence is his secret weapon. It not only allows him to tell embarrassing stories about himself but it also pushes him to improve.

"With Mouthful of Shame, all of my fans or the majority of them said it's the best thing you've ever done and that meant a lot because as you go on with time, if they're still really enjoying it, that means you're getting better," Norton says. "You never want your greatest work to be 10 years ago."

Jim Norton, Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd., 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29. Tickets are $35 for general admission in advance, $38 for general admission on the day of the show and $85 for VIP admission with priority seating and a meet and greet with Norton after the show. The proceeds of this and all of Norton's Texas shows will be donated to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.

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