Jim Norton returns to Chicago w/ all-star line up: Exclusive Interview

Jim Norton returns to Chicago w/ all-star line up: Exclusive Interview
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Comedian and radio personality Jim Norton, best known as the third chair on the Opie and Anthony Show, brings the Anti-Social Network tour back to Chicago this Saturday at the Horseshoe Casino at 8:00 PM. This time, joining Jim will be Dave Attell who closed the show last time the tour was here (2 years ago during the Just for Laughs comedy festival), and newcomers Artie Lange and Nick Di Paolo will also take the stage. TICKETS.

Jim called me recently to talk about how the addition of Nick and Artie change the dynamic of the show, recent backlashes to comics' jokes, O and A, the Olympics, and much more.

Is London dropping the ball this year?

I only watched the opening ceremony, because I think the Olympics are boring. The Olympics stink, if we're going to test a country's strength we should just do it in war. I think they're screwed up because they're making a mistake that every venue makes, which is giving these corporate douche bags tickets that they don't use. When I do shows in LA, I hate the industry, and I told my manager, "Zero comps for people in the business." I want no industry comps because people don't appreciate comp tickets, they just ignore them.

Last time you were here you had Bill Burr and Jim Breuer with you, now you have Nick and Artie instead, how do they change the dynamic of the show?

It's a much darker show. Jim and Bill are extraordinarily funny, but so are Nick and Artie. It's just a much darker show. It's the same humor level, but just more depressing. The shows we've done so far have been fantastic.

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On Opie and Anthony you guys are very vocal when you feel you're not being treated properly by XM, overall do you guys feel you're treated second tier to Howard (Stern)?

Anytime you're dealing with a major corporation you're going to have complaints. That's part of it and we're going to be second tier behind Howard because he's a much bigger show. I don't think anybody has an issue with that. I don't think he's happy with the way things are. If most people look at the position we're in, they would say that we're crazy to ever bitch, so no matter where you are standing as a performer, you see things that are wrong with the situation.

Even Howard, who's making all the money he's making has complaints and has things that he hates. It doesn't matter where you are. I don't feel like we're mistreated by the compnay anymore than we would be with any other company. We may exaggerate it on the air, but the bottom line is I really love doing the gig. They let me do things like go to Lollapalooza to see Sabbath. They actually give me a decent amount of freedom.

The beefs with Howard (Stern) and Opie and Anthony seem to have dwindled since you joined, would you agree with that?

There's been a lot, I've just never had much to do with it because their bad blood with him or his with them started before I got there. They were just going back and forth I think when O and A were in Boston. I never jumped in, only because Howard had never badmouthed me. It was almost like it was phony of me to pile on. Opie and Anthony never needed my help when doing that, those guys can be brutal, absolutely brutal. I just never got caught up in it for whatever reason.

It wasn't out of loyalty to Howard because I never listened to the radio growing up. My dad would listen to Imus, so I'd listen to Imus sometimes, but I was never a radio guy. I just never got involved with it because when I first started hearing about it, they were talking about things that didn't mean anything to me because I had just come to the show and I didn't know what was going on. It didn't have any emotional impact on me. As time went on, obviously those are my guys and I'm loyal to them above everybody. If I had to choose between them, obviously it's not even a choice, Opie and Anthony are the show I'm on and it's the show I love.

With the heckling and backlash to comics' jokes getting exponentially worse, where do you see the end game? Are clubs going to start taking people's phones?

There was no video of Tracy (Morgan) saying what he said, you don't even need that, you just need one person complaining. I'll tell you the problem, and this is where it's not going to end, Americans are full of sh*t. I really man that, we want free speech, but we only want it when we like what's being said. If you don't like what's being said in a club, you have every right to quietly leave and say, "Hey, that wasn't for me." But we're a country of spoiled, little douche bags.

The idea of apologizing makes me sick. Tracy Morgan has a lot to lose and so does Daniel Tosh. He (Daniel) has a multi-million dollar deal, it's not worth it to risk that over a stupid club joke. I understand why comics apologize. Any comedian who says, "F**k that, I would never apologize!" Tracy is not a p*ssy, Daniel Tosh is not a p*ssy. These are not "soft" acts, either one of these guys.

They both said they were sorry and they both hit pretty f**king hard onstage, they're both politically incorrect, so when the pressure comes down really hard and threatens what you have, it's kind of hard to not just say that you're sorry to get that pressure off. It makes me hate the public with such a vengeance. That's the beauty of being me, I just have nothing they can take (laughs). I'm very lucky that I can say whatever I want on Twitter and onstage. I'm doing eight minutes on the Colorado shooting and the crowds are loving it. It all depends on where you put the jokes. You have to watch where you put the humor.

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Do you think the public backlash and complaints of comics' jokes are going to keep happening?

It's just going to keep happening. People are getting attention. Every time it happens, all these bloggers pick it up and people give it attention. The fact that it gets attention is what keeps it going. And then comedians, because there's so much attention to get the pressure off themselves, apologize. I've apologized for a couple things, but there was no pressure on me at all. I bashed Steve Martin in my book. I publicly kind of apologized for that because I genuinely felt bad about it, but there was no pressure to do it. It meant nothing to my career, it didn't hurt me at all.

It's just a pressure thing, so all the apologies are phony. I think people have to hit back very hard. In this day and age, when you're doing a joke, you should ask yourself, "Can I defend this?" "If they come after me and I have a lot to lose, what is my defense to this joke?" When I look at my act, there's nothing in my act that I feel I'm not very comfortable defending.

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