There have been countless comedians over the years who have tried to be shocking, edgy, and unapologetically raw. While a number of those comedians do this to create a persona or stir up controversy, Jim Norton has made a career out of saying what he thinks and giving no fucks in the process.
“Anything I say onstage I think to myself, ‘Can I justify why I’m saying this?’” Norton replies when asked about the idea of going “too far” with his material. “One time, Louis CK told me that I was really good at making my point and explaining how I came to that conclusion. That’s why I want to make sure that if I’m ever called out for something I say, I can confidently support why I said it."
From Opie & Anthony to Lucky Louie, Norton has managed to blaze his own comedy trail for more than 25 years, finding new ways to express his blunt, brutally honest point of view on whatever is happening in the world around him. That trail has taken Norton to the world of mixed martial arts, as he recently launched a new podcast, UFC Unfiltered.
The only officially endorsed podcast of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the show is hosted by Norton and retired fighter Matt Serra. Two episodes each week featuring interviews with fighters, comedians, and actors.
“Dana [White, UFC president] and I have known each other a few years and has always talked about doing something together,” Norton explains. “Then he just called me one day about a year ago and was like, ‘Do you wanna do a fucking podcast?’ That’s how Dana talks. He always sounds like he’s had way too much coffee or something.”
A lifelong MMA fan, Norton jumped at the opportunity. And while there are numerous other fight-focused podcasts available, Norton insists that the combination of fighter access, pop culture, and dynamics between himself and Serra places Unfiltered in a league of its own.
“Fighting is always going to be the biggest part,” he says. “When we had Dana on that first episode, he said he’d talk about anything we wanted. Whether it was the situation with Ariel [Helwani, an MMA journalist who caused a firestorm earlier this year when he was temporarily banned from UFC events for breaking the news of Brock Lesnar’s return to fighting] or Jon Jones getting in trouble at UFC 200, that’s always been what he’s told us: We can talk about anything we want.”
Aside from chatting with UFC superstars and Hollywood A-listers, Norton is still one of the most active standup comedians in the game today, and will be shooting a new special on October 7. This week, he’ll give fans a sneak peek at the new material during his Mouthful of Shame Tour at the Varsity Theater.
“Usually once I record a special, I stop doing that material, so the show I’m doing is the last time I’ll ever perform it live in Minneapolis,” he says.
While there’s no telling what Norton will discuss once he hits the stage, the one thing you can count on is that he’ll continue pushing the envelope (and burning it and then spitting on the ashes), and saying exactly what’s on his mind no matter what anyone else thinks.
IF YOU GO:
Thursday, Sept. 15
7 p.m doors.
Click here for more details.