Stand-up comedian, actor, and writer Jim Norton will perform at the Punchline in Atlanta, tomorrow through Saturday. After a hiatus from live shows due to COVID, Norton’s spicy and irreverent humor returns to the stage with new material and plenty to joke about. The comedian joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom for a conversation covering such weighty topics as flat-Earthers, “Lost,” and gaining pounds in quarantine.
On committing to comedy:
“It was honestly the only thing I ever wanted to do. I wanted to be a lawyer at one point, but Princeton wouldn’t accept me because I had dropped out of high school. So I said, ‘You know what? I have no education, I’m driving a forklift… and this is what I really want to do.’ I left myself no backup plan on purpose because it forced me to be a good comic, or I would have no way to make a living.”
On Joan Rivers and other heroes:
“I saw [Joan Rivers] at the Cutting Room here in New York… She was 80 at the time, and she had note cards on the stage, on the floor,” said Norton. “She was a barbarian for an hour, and it was great. There was nothing off-limits… She’s one of the all-time greats and she doesn’t get the credits she deserves.”
“[Richard Pryor] was my favorite comedian of all time. I imagine if he saw my act now, he would say, ‘Take my name out of your bio.’ He’d be slightly embarrassed that I love him so much, but he was the guy that made me want to do comedy.”
On sensitivities and censorship in comedy:
“Comedians have to deal with things through humor, but no one is telling Stephen King not to kill children in his books. No one is telling actors not to play slave-owners, not to play slashers, not to play murderers, or not to play rapists. So for people to think that comedy is harmful, when portraying someone committing a horrible act in seriousness can get you an award, I just reject the idea that comedians as performers should be limited in a way that any other form of the arts is not limited.”
“I think, as a performer, any subject you want to touch is absolutely acceptable; all that matters is, do you do it well, or do you do it poorly? And I think that’s what you should be judged on.”
Jim Norton performs stand-up at the Punchline in Atlanta on Thursday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 9. Tickets and information are available at www.punchline.com/shows.