Jim Norton hopes you watch his new EPIX stand-up special, American Degenerate, but as the title of his 2012 special for the cable channel went, Please Be Offended. Please don’t waste your time writing on Facebook, Tumblr or whatever blogging/social media platform you use to let Norton and us know if you were offended.
Norton notes three-fourths of the way into American Degenerate, which debuts tonight on EPIX:
“I fucking hate people who blog about being upset. When I hear about people blogging because they were upset at a joke, I am suddenly for predator drones killing American citizens. People just love to be offended and they love to talk about it and they love to fucking blog about it. And comedians are supposed to say they’re sorry now. Like, that’s all it takes now is somebody blogging. Like Tracy Morgan said he was sorry. Daniel Tosh.”
If you don’t like what you hear from a comedian — and how could you be surprised to hear anything shocking or offensive from a stand-up comedian, Norton says — you have a right to leave. Not heckle in the room, nor online. Just get out.
The timing of his argument is awkward, considering Norton debated a different blogger on national TV about a different aspect of rape jokes since taping American Degenerate. Don’t misconstrue what he says here to what he’s said elsewhere more recently.
Or even this bit from the special, taped in Boston, in which Norton talks about meeting a drunk woman at Lollapalooza in Chicago and imagining what he’d do to her later. Nothing possibly wrong in that, is there? Ahem. Roll the clip!
Long before Norton turns the screws on anyone else in his routine, however, he’s making himself the butt of the joke. Literally so in the opening. Here’s a snippet of that.
Amy Schumer, interviewing Norton for Vulture, asked him about that:
So how did Michael K. Williams happen for the beginning of the special? How did that happen? I wanted to get somebody in the beginning of the special that was important to me. Ozzy [Osbourne] was last year, so how do I follow that? I don’t know exactly what made me think of being sodomized by Omar [Williams’s character on The Wire], but I’m like, “What could be a more personal thing?” He is my favorite character in TV history. I just called up and asked him. I’m like, “Look, I would love you to do the opening for my special,” and he goes, “Yeah, man, I’d love to.” And I’m like, “Let me send you a script.” And he goes, “Nah, it’s all good. If it’s you, I’m good with it.”
Norton’s good with a lot of topics, himself. Nothing’s off limits.
- He understands his audience — including many who have listened to him over the past several years as the third mic on Opie & Anthony — needs some diversity. “My audience is white and Grand Wizard.” And he evokes the memory of the late Patrice O’Neal to instill wisdom upon him about why that might be so.
- That said, he jokes about his hopes that the new Pope were black.
- He completely would have believed that the terrorist attacks on American diplomats in Benghazi happened after watching a horrible movie.
- He’s comfortable with his own desire to smell the man sitting next to him on an airplane if the scent makes sense. He’s not so comfortable hitting on the flight attendants.
- Likewise, he’s OK to a creepy extent if a woman at the gym has a thong that makes him obsess over her ass, but not so keen on men who are willing and eager to remain naked in the locker room.
- He knows how to negotiate a happy ending during a massage, and therefore has sympathy for the scandal John Travolta went through with one of his masseuses.
Yep, he’s an “American Degenerate” all right.
Here, then, is another clip, in which Norton jokes about how you should react if you didn’t realize you were having sex with a transsexual.
Are you offended? Please don’t be.
And Please Be Offended is out now: