Comic Jim Norton brings his Kneeling Room Only Tour to Sacramento’s Crest Theatre this Saturday evening – then it’s back to his enormously popular radio show on Monday morning.
The irreverent comedian can be heard every weekday morning on “The Jim Norton & Sam Roberts Show” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Norton, 49, also is co-host of UFC's wildly popular “Unfiltered Podcast with Jim Norton & Matt Serra” and has also appeared in comedy TV series including “Inside Amy Schumer” on Comedy Central, FX’s “Louie” and “Crashing” on HBO.
Norton spoke with The Bee by phone about his comedy career, his current tour and the love/hate relationship his listeners have with his show.
Q. Jim, you got a big break early in your career opening for Andrew Dice Clay. What did you learn from him and his audience?
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A. I learned first and foremost how to deal with a very aggressive crowd. They didn’t know me, so the crowd would always kind of hate you when you walked out. But I won them over, so that trained me how to deal with an adverse audience and how to win them over fast. Andrew really changed my life.
Q. How have your fans reacted to “Mouthful of Shame,” your newest Netflix special?
A. The reaction has been great actually. It’s had the best response from fans of anything I’ve ever done. If you’re not sure if you sucked, go on Twitter and people will let you know exactly how they feel. It’s a very autobiographical special, and most of the stuff I say in it is true.
Q. But the folks who come to the Crest to see you are going to get different jokes than in “Mouthful of Shame,” right?
A. Yes, it’s all new material. It’s a pretty honest view of my personal life. What I’m doing right and wrong…most of it’s wrong (laughs). And obviously I’m talking about current events and all the sexual harassment stuff that’s in the news right now, with Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, etc.
Q. Do you stay away from political humor and Trump jokes because it’s so divisive now? Or have you never done much political comedy?
A. I don’t avoid any subject. I make fun of politics. It’s just not the driving force in my act, but I definitely make fun of the current political climate.
Q. What has your exposure on SiriusXM and also your work with the UFC done for your career?
A. The Sirius show with Sam gives people a chance to listen to me every day, and they love you and they hate you because they’re listening every day. So they’re really invested in the things we’re talking about. And the UFC podcast just opened me up to a global audience because it can be downloaded anywhere. So both those things have been tremendous in helping me get my stupid face out there.
Q. Your Wikipedia page mentions your struggles with addiction. Where are you in your recovery and what addictions are we talking about?
A. Drugs and alcohol … I’m very lucky because I got sober at a very young age. So for me, it did not ruin my life or my career. I’ve been sober my entire adult life. I’m very blessed to say I haven’t done any drugs or alcohol since 1987, so that’s 30 years now.
Q. Tell me about the Kneeling Room Only Tour and how many shows do you perform in a week?
A. We started in Portland and Seattle in September, and it will go until at least March of next year. Because I am on morning radio Monday through Friday, I do two or three standup shows on the weekends and then return to my radio show Monday morning.
Q. Do you notice any difference in the audiences depending on what part of the country you are performing in?
A. Small towns might be more conservative when it comes to religious or sexual material, and big cities are sometimes more uncomfortable with things that are not p.c. Other than that, audiences are pretty much the same everywhere. They just get offended at different things.
Q. Have you performed much overseas? Does your comedy travel well, so to speak?
A. I’ve performed in Australia, and I’m going to London and Ireland for the first time in December. The UFC podcast helped a lot. People overseas know my stuff surprisingly well now. It’s kind of a shock to me.
Comedian Jim Norton’s Kneeling Room Only Tour
Where: Sacramento’s Crest Theatre
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $35 to $85