Eastern Carolina Style Interviews: Jim Norton

Posted: January 7, 2014 by The Life in All, Comedy, Interview, Stand-Up
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This weekend (Jan 9-11) Raleigh, NC will get hit by the bus that is the ever controversial, always opinionated, American Degenerate that is Jim Norton.

Fresh off of his hit Epix comedy special, Jim will be at Goodnight’s in Raleigh performing 5 shows. You can get tickets HERE

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the chance to speak with Jim about his upcoming show. I decided that instead of talking about his show, I would talk to him about his take on issues of the world today. What I got out of the experience is a new found respect for the man and an item I can look back on and say, “wow, that was cool”.

MAS – I am online and I see that A&E has suspended Phil Robertson. What is the first thing that comes to mind for you?

Jim Norton It’s one of these things that I jump all over on Twitter. I like to know that I live in a country where we care what one hillbilly asshole thinks about homosexuals. It is mind-boggling that anyone cares what this guy thinks, but he has done nothing wrong by expressing his opinions. I am very pro-gay marriage, I am very pro-gay, and I still have to defend the guy.

MAS – I couldn’t agree with you more. Me personally, everybody lives their own life; do what they want to do. I may not agree with it, but I am going to stay out of it. I grew up Catholic in the south and there are two groups that are going to face a lot of harassment here, Blacks and Catholics. As a result, I grew up to be very tolerant.

What I have seen over my 35 years; I have seen tolerance go to an extreme. I have seen tolerance become codling. What do you see there?

Jim Norton – America is a very phony place when it comes to tolerance and freedom of thoughts and diversity in ideas. It has just gone the other way now. I don’t know why we’re pretending to be surprised. We have never really been a place where we allow for ideas that we don’t agree with. Today, it just seems like we have people that are willing to get in trouble for saying something we find disagreeable.

MAS – The idea of something being off-limits because it has a violent connotation. I agreed with your stance where, “If an actor can portray the role, why can’t a comedian make the joke?” Where do you think we need to go as a society in order to overcome that mentality?

Jim Norton – Individuals are self-righteous, social networking allows us to be self-righteous in a group. Rape victim’s pain is very real, and I think that rapists should be castrated. But, the pain of a rape victim is just as real as the pain of a 9/11 victim, the same as an AIDS patient the same as a molestation victim. Look within the Catholic Church. Look at all the molesting priest jokes; there are a million of them. A, Catholicism has brought that upon themselves by protecting those pigs. B, are you going to tell me that the pain of these kids who are molested is not real? Of course it is! Everyone’s pain is real. You can’t look at any of it as off-limits; otherwise you are going to be talking about balloons and puppies. Do you want comedy that is only making fun of sour milk? I mean, there are social issues that we should make fun of. The fact that there is a real pain associated with that shouldn’t negate the ability to make fun of it.

MAS – Let me put things into context for you, in the last week I have interviewed four stand-up comedians. In order; you, yesterday I spoke with Gary Gulman. Before him, Tracy Morgan and last week I spoke with Natasha Leggero. One of those four does not belong.

Jim Norton – Wow, you could take any one of them. You have a woman, a black guy and a Jew so you could say it is any one of them. Or do you mean by what they have said?

MAS – No, you went exactly where I was going. Why is it that you can have four different comedians that are totally different in every possible way all making jokes that go against social norms, yet you and Tracy are the ones that seem to get blasted the most.

Jim Norton – You know, it is really weird. I haven’t gotten it. People have come after me on Twitter, but no one has threatened my job. I have never had that happen because of what I have said. Tracy got it because he had a network gig and that is why Tash got in trouble. When you have a network gig, there is a lot of money at stake, and the networks come after you. So the comedians will just say, “The hell with it, fuck it, let’s just say we are sorry and move along.” I think that is why they went after Tracy because he had a network gig so they pressured him that way. Believe me, I wish I had that problem. I don’t have any type of network affiliation; I am only a moderately successful guy so I have a little more freedom.

MAS – As a fan, putting aside the whole media side, I have a lot of respect for people that will speak their minds and challenge the societal norms.  I hate to say it, I almost hope you don’t get a network deal so that I can keep hearing you just let it go.

Jim Norton – Thank you man. You know on the Opie and Anthony Show, that I am on every day, I have had tremendous freedom there. I have my CDs and my DVDs; I have a lot of freedom, I can pretty much say any opinion that I want. I have been very fortunate in my career and I have chosen that path. You might take a little bit less network accessibility for it, but I really like what I do on stage.

In American Degenerate, I blasted the press. It felt great to blast them, and there is nothing they can do about it. Not that they want to do anything, but nobody can do a fucking thing about it. My job as a comedian is to be, hopefully, funny and honest; I don’t always have to be right. I think I am like every other scumbag in this country; half the time I’m right, half the time I’m wrong.  I’m just like Fox news, just like CNN, just like everybody else.

MAS – I watched both of your most recent stand-up DVDs and even dug up your old HBO special. In one of them, you lay into Al Sharpton. He has, sort of, dropped out of relevance. People can now see him for what he really is. Who do you think personifies what is wrong today?

Jim Norton – Great Question… You are right; Sharpton is a lot mellower than he used to be.

I don’t know if you can find any one particular person, I think it is the umbrella in which special interest groups operate because they always target people for speech. Then again, they don’t make the firings, the networks do the firing. Then again, the networks don’t WANT to do the firing, they only do it because the advertisers are upset. Then again, the advertisers are only upset because they think they are going to lose sales because the average person, like you or I, don’t push back. It is very hard to find one person that personifies what’s wrong because it is a very weird cyclical thing. We, the population, could end it immediately. Take right now; there is a Facebook page for the people of Duck Dynasty about “Don’t watch A&E until that guy is back on.” They are supporting him. In a few hours they have gotten a half a million “Likes”. A&E is absolutely going to back-pedal on this because they are going to lose a lot more. Society, that is usually very quiet, decides it is not offended and is instead really pissed off and is standing up to push back. So, I bet you that A&E will, fucking, back-pedal on this.

It is a great question; I don’t want to bring just one person. Because, oh yeah, Jessie Jackson is an annoying asshole, but again Jessie Jackson doesn’t fire people. It is not Jessie who fires people; it is the cowardly executives who fire people. So Jessie is annoying, but I think that these executives who stand up for nothing are even worse. The public in general who fucking, just sits there and takes special interest dick, we are all at fault for not speaking up and not defending each other; for not defending each other and our right to say stupid things and our right to say unpopular shit.

MAS – I am going to disagree with several people, an example will be that “church” out in Westboro. Even though I absolutely abhor everything they say and do, I also have to defend them for having the guts to stand up and say what they believe.

Jim Norton – That is exactly right. I mean, I hate the fact that they do it. I have issues with them, simply because they go to these funerals… there is almost something dishonest about them. They remind me of little children standing on the porch yelling the “F word” knowing that mommy is right behind them to protect them. If they had real courage and they really had faith in God they wouldn’t need to get permits to march, they would just show up without police protection. If they really thought God was protecting them, they would just show up without police watching.

But, you are right. I believe in their right to do what they do. I think they are a great statement as to what we will tolerate in this country. They are just a great image. The whole country thinks that they are just fucking pigs, which they are. However, they have the right to say something so reprehensible. It is just a great statement about our country and what we can and do tolerate at times.

They have really hurt themselves by using such inflammatory rhetoric. Their rhetoric is so inflammatory and so childish and they say things like “God hates fags.” Even people who may be inclined to agree with them have turned against them, even people who are religious and don’t really like homosexuals. They are using such babyish, child terms that people look at them and say, “These people are just absolute assholes.” All the younger members of their congregation are leaving; they have backed themselves into a corner and bitten their own asshole out which is really great to see.

MAS – Hopefully we will see a day when that type of attitude will go away and be replaced by real tolerance, real understanding and real compassion.

Jim Norton – My opinion is, I think that people who do not like homosexuals are lousy. I think that if you do not like gay people, then you are kind of a shitty person. I think that is an ignorant point of view. But I think that if you don’t like gay people, but you still want them to be able to get married and have all the rights you do I think you are a shitty person, but a great American because you realize your personal views shouldn’t interfere with someone elses life liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

I don’t care if people hate gays or hate blacks, that is within your right and you should be able to feel that way. Just don’t ask for your rights to be one iota more than theirs.

MAS – I am in North Carolina; I am going to live up to the southern stereotype on guns. I am one of those “gun toting lunatics” that gun control advocates talk about. I also believe in responsibility, I believe in doing what is right for society and what is right in general. I can’t help but get offended when I get lumped into the same category as the guy in Colorado, that nutcase in Connecticut. It sends me into orbit that I am seen as a pariah because I own a weapon.

Jim Norton – There are many opinions that I hear that find offensive or vile. The difference is, it is okay to be offended or upset by something someone says, but I don’t want them penalized for it. People are always coming up to me, “don’t you ever get offended?” Sure I do! But I understand that is the price you pay for living in a free society. Some people are going to say things that I find shitty, some people are going to have opinions that I find dumb, or retarded or vile. There are people that are going to hate my guts, it is what it is.

The problem is that we want each other penalized for it; we are a country of hall monitors

MAS – I am finally going to ask you about your show… What can we expect as material?

Jim Norton – I talk about Anthony Weiner, I talk about technology, Paula Dean and you can bet I will be talking about Duck Dynasty, plus my use of prostitutes and addiction. I promise to be funny, it is a new set and completely different from my stuff on American Degenerate. I promise it is good.

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