Toward the end of Jim Norton’s new hour-long HBO special "Monster
Rain" (debuts tonight at 10, available on DVD Tuesday), the 39-year-old
comedian takes a moment to recognize and thank Opie and Anthony in the
audience.

Norton certainly has seen his fan base grow since joining the morning radio
duo on WXRK (92.3 FM) and XM satellite radio.
He’s also working hard to reach new fans.
Since taping the special at the beginning of the summer in Washington,
D.C., Norton has published a best-selling book of essays, "Happy Endings:
The Tales of a Meaty-Breasted Zilch," launched an online series on
SuperDeluxe.com and made the late-night TV rounds.

Most nights, he’s working out new material at the Comedy Cellar or
performing on the road.
"The more big things you can do to put yourself in the public eye, the
better," Norton tells the Daily News. "I’ve tried to keep very busy.
If you’re not always busy, you’re going to sink like a big dumb rock. Now I
don’t have to face the terrifying implication that if this special bombs, I
have nowhere else to go."

Even if he did, he could always rebound like Don Imus, whom Norton
references in his special.
"I figured he’d be back sooner or later," Norton says. "But
now with the special coming out, it’s perfect timing."
He called Imus’ firing by CBS Radio a disgrace, telling audiences:
"Are we not allowed to make ugly jokes anymore?"
Norton has plenty of those in store, not just for the Rutgers basketball
team, but also Britney Spears, Heather Mills, Larry Flynt, televised poker
players, Anna Nicole Smith and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Of Clinton, Norton wonders
why anyone would hold her up to be a feminist role model: "All she did was
stay with a guy who [bleeped] everybody."

His special’s tag line says it all best: "Cover up and cringe."
And yet, Norton says he’d rather not be referred to that way. "I don’t
think it should’ve ever applied to any comedian," he says. "None of it’s
cringe-worthy. I’m just a guy doing jokes about stuff in my life. Watching a
snuff film or an Al-Zawahiri beheading – those are cringe-worthy things."

This story originally appeared in the New York Daily News.