It seems like every other day there’s some kind of headline divulging shocking allegations of inappropriate behavior from a high-powered celebrity or political figure. First, it was Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Then it was Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, Jeffrey Tambor, James Toback, Louis C.K., Jeremy Piven and Dustin Hoffman. Then there was Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Russell Simmons and dozens more. The list, it seems, is never-ending.
What do all the above have to do with Jim Norton, you may be wondering? In the comedian’s own words, they have effectively proved him to be “one of the purest guys in show business.” And, at his Dec. 8 show at Chicago’s Thalia Hall, Norton somehow defended his self-proclaimed title (when compared to the above-accused, of course!) while simultaneously pushing the boundaries with a set of perverted, filthy, no-holds-barred comedy.
Norton was in top form during Friday night’s performance, as was Kelsey Cook, who warmed up the crowd with her own amusing stories of getting high and hustling guys in foosball. From the opening moments of Norton’s set, in which he called attention to the Gary Glitter-esque creepiness of some fans in the venue’s side-stage balcony booth, to the night’s closing bit, which saw the comedian offering up an alternative technique to Donald Trump’s poorly-worded “grab ’em by the p*ssy” remark, fans were left rolling with laughter.
Whether attacking others or poking fun at himself, Norton was fearless in his pursuit of laughs at Thalia Hall. His long-form discussion of circumcision, which saw the man with a Mouthful Of Shame taking aim at “mohels” (the person who performs the circumcision), nearly brought the audience to tears, peaking with Norton’s cringingly funny demonstration of foreskin as a ski mask. Other set highlights included a discussion of dating website techniques (one of which saw Norton using a cadaver photo for his profile pic) and a hilarious bit involving fleshlights and M&M’s.
Much of Norton’s routine is made up of NSFW material. And while “d*ck jokes” have become a modern comedy crutch for many, Norton, who it should be noted has been performing this type of stuff for 20 plus years now, avoids all pitfalls, reliably pulling laughter from the most unexpected of places. And when he does stray from the filth, as he did a few times throughout his set, his jokes routinely rival his blue comedy content. Take, for example, his bits on the now-infamous Dr. Dao video, the proper pronunciation of Thalia Hall, and life with a blind man told from the perspective of a seeing eye dog… all three of which were laugh-out-loud funny.
Norton wrapped up last night’s show with some good old fashioned crowd work, riffing with the audience while in character as Uncle Paul, Edgar and Chip Chipperson.
Catch Norton, currently on tour now with dates extending into May 2018.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)