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Jim Norton talks Bubba the Love Sponge, radio feuds and working for Louis C.K. and Jay Leno




Adam Carolla calls Jim Norton “the filthiest human being on the planet — and it’s not like Richard Pryor tossing in an MF’er every once in a while. It’s graphic descriptions of debauchery and sexuality that would make a German athiest vomit.”

And that’s a friend talking.

Indeed, Norton has a reputation for debauched, sexually explicit material, which is one of the reasons he’s proven so popular as a co-host of The Opie & Anthony Show, and why comics ranging from Carolla to Jay Leno to Louis C.K. keep asking him to perform on their shows.

But there’s much more to Norton than the stuff we can’t print. He’s an actor, author, celebrity roaster and one of the most respected stand-up comics in the business. This weekend, he’ll perform at the Improv in Ybor City; tickets are $22; click here for details.

But first, the bestselling author (I Hate Your Guts and Happy Endings) agreed to answer a few questions by email.

What are Tampa’s characteristics as a comedy town? What thoughts go through your mind when you book a show at the Tampa Improv, or see it coming up on your calendar?

Tampa was great, which was a nice surprise, because the first time I did it years ago, the room was half empty. I look forward to seeing Cowhead again, and hopefully actually sleeping with someone this time.

Do you do Bubba the Love Sponge when you’re in Tampa? Or is that a no-no for anyone in the Opie and Anthony family?

I’ve never met Bubba, but there’s definitely no hostility between his show and ours anymore. I don’t know if he’d want me on, but I would do it, sure.

In your experience, are radio feuds overblown? Have you been involved in feuds where there’s genuine bad blood?

They’re definitely overblown. When they’re happening there’s bad blood, but when it’s over, the whole thing usually seems idiotic. We’ve feuded with everyone at one point and I’ve wound up meting most of them and we’ve gotten along well. When you have 20 hours a week to cover, anything can get blown out of proportion simply because you have to fill time.

As a radio vet, how have you liked doing other comics’ podcasts, like Maron, Carolla, Rogan and Fitzsimmons? Do you like doing podcasts more or less than radio?

I’ve loved doing them for different reasons. Maron’s was very intimate; just two guys in a small room (not unlike our glory-hole interactions). Rogan, Fitzsimmons and Carolla were done in front of a live audience, which I loved the energy of. Nothing replaces radio though; Opie and Anthony is definitely the main gig in my career.

The last time I saw you on TV was during the Dane Cook episode of Louie. How did you get on board with that episode? What was your reaction to the scene between Dane and Louie?

Louis called me at 6 on a Friday and asked if I could be in the Bronx by 8, because he has the planning ability of a fly (to clarify, flies are notoriously awful planners). The comic who was supposed to do my part had a gig, so Louie sent a car; I hopped in and promptly got lost in the Bronx. I haven’t seen the episode though, because I’m writing something. Whenever I’m working on something, I don’t watch comedy at all, so I know I won’t be influenced.

Tell me something cool about being a correspondent for the The Jay Leno Show. What’s something people might not know about that gig?

Jay gives me a car every time I do it (which is odd, since he won’t provide hotel or airfare). So, after we tape, I spend the next three days driving a classic vehicle, which usually has no roof, across the country.

The same weekend you’re in Tampa, there are two other huge comedy shows here in town. I’m not trying to get you to talk trash about other comics, but just for fun, tell me this: Why should people spend their comedy dollars on Jim Norton instead of (A) Adam Carolla and (B) Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall?

Adam is funny, but he ends his shows by spraying vomit on the first 11 rows, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend seeing him this week. And Jeff, Larry and Bill are all millionaires, so why not see someone who desperately needs your money so he can get an escort?

Eddie Murphy’s hosting the Oscars. He hasn’t done stand-up in decades. What are your expectations?

His stand-up is probably rusty, but Eddie’s a comedy veteran, he’ll probably destroy at the Oscars. Everyone already loves him and they’ll probably be happy to see him live.

Would you give up standup to be a huge success in film, TV, radio or literature?

I’ve already done TV, radio, written books and a bit of acting in films. I’ve proven mediocre at them all. I’d only give up standup if I knew I’d be a success in adult films.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2011 5:38pm]


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