City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Jim Norton, coming to the Punchline, defends Jay Leno, battles Jesse Ventura


Stand-up comic Jim Norton, the embodiment of the angry New Yorker, wouldn’t seem like an obvious advocate of Jay Leno, often derided as milquetoast and blander than boiled carrots.

But Norton, who does comedy bits for Leno on occasion, believes the NBC talk-show host has been unfairly maligned after bombing out at 10 p.m., then taking back “The Tonight Show” earlier this year, displacing Conan O’Brien.

“Critics feel smarter preferring Conan over Jay,” said Norton from his home in Manhattan, promoting his shows at the Punchline this weekend (details below).  “There’s a natural inclination in people who pride themselves intellectually to not go with what the masses go with. Leno is actually a lot edgier than  Conan as a stand up. He’s edgier than David Letterman though Letterman is great, too. Jay got a bad rap.”

He didn’t see any reason why Leno should have stepped down when he was doing as well as he was. “It’s a childish attitude to tell a guy who was No. 1 in his time slot to just walk away because some executive doesn’t want to admit he made a horrible decision five years ago. [NBC announced in 2004 that Leno would relinquish his spot in 2009.]”

Neither side, Norton said, told the truth in 2004. Leno wouldn’t admit he was getting squeezed out while O’Brien threatened to leave without the promise of the “Tonight Show” in 2009.

Conan, Norton said, had a great deal at 12:35 p.m. on NBC. Just wanting “The Tonight Show” didn’t mean he deserved it. “Heck, if Jay fell in a ditch and NBC offered the show to me, I’d take it in a second. I’d bang Angelina Jolie, too, if Brad Pitt weren’t f**** her. It’s easy to want things. Letterman wanted ‘The Tonight Show,’ too. He went across the street and became a monster at CBS. The guys who pounded Jay the hardest wanted his job.”

But enough about Jay. Norton himself is a funny stand-up comic heard regularly on the Opie & Anthony Show on XM Satellite radio. And he brings plenty of edge on Leno’s show. Check him out at this inventor’s show, which features him mocking a product called “Douche To Go” and another  which enables him to mock his own product:

And Norton isn’t afraid to get into tiffs with celebrities. Here he is on Opie & Anthony getting Jesse Ventura so hot under the collar that the former politician/wrestler walks out:

“He thought I was doing it for publicity, but I really didn’t agree with him,” he said to me about Ventura.

He also riffed about how the public ate up the Mel Gibson phone recordings in which he sounded like a mad man. “We love watching people get in trouble,” he said. “We’re a country of hall monitors. We are easily offended teen-age girls. It’s embarrassing.”

Norton was also part of the great poker scene on the new FX show “Louie” starring Louie C.K. It’s  not family friendly so I’m not going to embed the video, but if you want to check it out, it’s on YouTube.

“It came from a real conversation at the Comedy Cellar table in New York,” Norton said. “He just decided to film it. He’s a great writer and great comic.”

On the FCC: “It’d be happy if the FCC were burned alive. They’re despicable and not necessary. But it won’t affect commercial radio. Radio is run by these douchy lawyers. Content is made based on special interests, not the FCC. Nobody thinks you can just drop the C bomb or F bomb. They buckle to special interests who protest the advertisers so you can’t say any ethnic jokes or whatever the sacred cow of the day is.

On “Mad Men” on Sunday, the Ad Age reporter asked the question to Don Draper: “Who is Don Draper?” So I asked Jim Norton: “Who is Jim Norton?”

“I’m a much nicer guy than people think I’m going to be. I think I’m pretty fair. I’m also a sex addict with anger problems. This is the truth. My girlfriend and I were arguing a couple of days ago. I really understand Mel Gibson. I understand the anger when you’re communicating and you don’t feel like they’re hearing you. He’s not yelling about blacks. His anger is that this woman will not hear him… I’m Mel Gibson without the acting talent.”

He said the crux of their argument stemmed from his girlfriend looking for a place to live and checking out some tough neighborhoods in New York. He wanted her to get a smaller place in a safer neighborhood. “I worry that she’s a rape waiting to happen,” he said. They got into a nasty argument because she felt he was trying to control her. Ultimately, she found a decent place in a decent neighborhood.

What if some girlfriend taped his arguments? “Nobody would give a s***. That’s the beauty of being a comedian. We tell on ourselves. It’s like what are you going to say to a comic that he hasn’t already said himself? I’m not the sexiest man alive. I’m a dirtbag comedien!”

Jim Norton
Punchline Comedy Club
290 Hilderbrand Drive, Atlanta
$25 each
Thursday, July 29, 8 p.m., Friday, July 30 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Saturday July 31, 7 p.m., 9 p.m.. and 11 p.m.

12 comments Add your comment

war eagle

July 28th, 2010
1:50 pm

Jeff Norton- You are an AHOLE and I hope no one comes to your show. Ventura was a Navy SEAL and you are nothing but an insignificant ant. So shut up you liberal pansy and go wash your lingerie. I hope Ventura challenges you to a wrestling match so he can shove your foot up your butt!


July 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

Jim is a great comedian. I would not recommend him if you are easily offended. He is definately one of my favorite comedians! GO SEE HIM!


July 28th, 2010
3:15 pm

Actually War Eagle, Jim isn’t a liberal at all. He appears on Fox News all the time, and I find his political leanings to go a bit more conservative. Regardless, he doesn’t talk about politics hardly at all in his standup, and it’s a great act. Don’t miss it!


July 28th, 2010
11:35 pm

Seriously, I was waiting for Jesse to smack the s**t out of that guy!!

Governor Ventura was right. Our soldiers are nothing more than cannon fodder for war contractors, oil companies, and U.S. imperialism. You’ve got to be a fool (Jim Norton) not to see this. It couldn’t be more obvious.

“Fighting for freedom”…… LOL


July 28th, 2010
11:38 pm

Enter your comments here


July 29th, 2010
2:06 pm

Good for Norton, Ventura is a complete insane moron that is completely full of crap. You would have to be a total idiot to take Ventura seriously at all.

The facts

July 29th, 2010
3:26 pm

It’s laughable that Ventura tries to promote the myth that he was a Navy SEAL and equally amusing that some people actually believe him. Ventura was a member of the UDL (underwater demolitions team), which means he was basically a frogman that set up underwater bombs. The training for the UDL team was the like the cub scounts compared to what the SEALS had to to go through. While Ventura was in the Navy, the SEALS and the UDL were completely seperate units with absolutely no overlap in training, or command. In fact, numerours former SEALS from the same time period have called Ventura for being completely full of crap and misrepresenting his service as being a true SEAL.

On top of this, Ventura is an idiotic and paranoid conspiracy theory lunatic that no one, except for other morons, take seriously anymore. The guy is nothing more then an over grown cartoon character who will simply say anything for publicity.


July 29th, 2010
9:59 pm

Anyone that doesn’t think Jay Leno is a complete douche has no credibility with me what-so-ever. I’m not even talking about the Conan thing. The guy just sucks.


July 30th, 2010
1:28 pm

I hate this guy. I first heard him on the radio with…oh, whatever those two guys from Boston/NY are the are now on XM. Anyway, he’s an insult comic that forgets the comic part. He’s just cruel without being entertaining. He’s just not funny.


July 31st, 2010
11:33 am

RK, Jarvis, Tim, War Eagle, ya’ll are all a bunch of douchebags. Jim Norton is funny as hell. Get a sense of humor.


August 2nd, 2010
11:55 am

I could really care less if she gets released. There are people in jail who have not done things half as bad as her, and have to complete their sentences. Must be nice to live in Follywood.


August 4th, 2010
5:20 pm

You could really care less? That means that you do care to some degree. Go job with that phrasing Einstein.