Tiffany Norton got her standup comedy career started all the way back in 2003. Sort of.
"My first time trying comedy was at Knuckleheads at Mall of America, and I was horrible," she says of her stage debut. "After that I didn't try it again for a long time."
Four years later, Norton decided to re-dedicate herself to comedy, and this time it stuck. These days, she can be found performing at comedy clubs all over town, and this Saturday Norton will be headlining at New Hope Cinema Grill.
While her career has taken off over the past few years, her friends and family weren't necessarily supportive at first.
"I started to go through sort of a mid-life crisis. I was 35 years old, and I wasn't expressing myself creatively, so I decided to really get more involved with performing," she says. "Honestly, when I told my family and friends about it they weren't super supportive, which kind of got my Irish up and made me want to do it even more."
Shortly thereafter, she ditched her nine-to-five life and hit the open mic circuit around town to work on her material. The biggest challenge she faced, however, wasn't a lack of jokes, but her own sense of belonging onstage.
"I had always thought that comedy was something only special people got to do," she explains. "Like someone comes up to you and tells you that you can do that. It took a while, but it made me realize I could be one of those special people, too."
Norton finally came into her own about three years into her career when the late, great Twin Cities comedian Bill Bauer took her out on the road as his opener.
"That was really when I turned a corner," she says of the experience. "I'm very critical of myself, and I knew that I wanted to be good at this. Being on the road with Bill I just tried to be a student of comedy."
After that experience, Norton continued to become increasingly recognizable in the Twin Cities comedy scene, consistently appearing at clubs like Joke Joint Comedy Club (the same club where she performed her first-ever headlining set last month), House of Comedy, and others. Now seven years after that open mic gone wrong at Knuckleheads, Norton has a family, a "real" job, and a successful comedy career. But as she's learned, sometimes fame can be awkward.
"When my daughter was in junior high, one of her teachers saw me at Joke Joint and put the last name together, and then brought it up to her at school," she laughs. "I had to explain that even though I talk about her onstage sometimes, it's more about me discussing the ways I've messed up as a mom. Once I explained it, she was cool about it."
IF YOU GO:
New Hope Cinema Grill
Saturday, July 19, 8 p.m.
Click here for more information