Comedian Jim Norton will perform his standup comedy show “Kneeling Room Only” at the Barrymore Theatre Oct. 21.
Norton performs comedy on a variety of platforms, including standup, radio and TV. Standup, however, is his preference because it gives immediate audience feedback. It will be interesting to see how the Barrymore audience responds to his jokes — he has centered his content around culture in the past year, so of course President Donald Trump will be mentioned.
Norton takes an unconventional approach when thinking of material. He doesn’t write things down or format his jokes. He gets on stage at the Comedy Cellar in New York and just rolls with it, he said.
The idea of getting on stage blind might intimidate some people, but Norton lives for the honest feedback. From this, he can see what works well and begin to edit the content for his comedy tours.
Besides comedy tours, Norton also had a special on Netflix — “Mouthful of Shame.” Compared to other streaming services and stations, Netflix censors material less frequently. They let comedians do whatever they want, and when they do offer suggestions for edits, they’re good ideas, Norton said.
Netflix also allowed the special to air to a mass audience, which is another benefit of the streaming service, Norton said. This wasn’t to say other companies aren’t good. Norton emphasized all the production companies have been good, especially HBO.
He’s at the point in his career where he is working next to comedy’s biggest names — he was featured on “Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central) and “Louie” (FX). But even though these seem like successes, he knows he has to work harder.
“You feel good but it also makes you feel worse because you see how far you have to go,” Norton said. “It’s almost like if you’re a local guy and you have sex with a lot of girls and you think you can do porn. Then you get in that industry and you’re like, ‘there’s a lot of competition and a lot of it’s bigger than me.’”
Though there are challenges, Norton is doing what he’s always wanted to do. Comedy was the only thing he ever felt comfortable doing, he said. He loves to make people laugh and comedy is all he can see himself doing.
When people don’t laugh at a joke, there’s not much you can do, unless you want to run throughout the audience tickling people, Norton said. Bombing is the worst part about comedy, but the successful jokes make up for this.
For young comedians that want to experience the same rush of standup, Norton offered some unique advice.
“Drop out of college,” Norton said. “If you want to make it in comedy, do not have a safety net. The only way you’re going to be dedicated is if you don’t have a safety net. Now maybe that’s terrible advice, so I would say don’t listen to me — I have no education.”