Jim Norton Explains Why Boston Was ‘Built to Be Funny’
Jim Norton may not hail from Boston, but the New Jersey-born funny man has a lot of respect for the city’s deep comedy roots.
The comedian, who’s bringing his “Mouthful of Shame” tour to the Wilbur this weekend, has filmed a few specials in Boston over the years and loves performing for the town’s fickle fans.
“I think the whole town is built to be funny,” Norton says. “But you better be funny. If you’re not, they’re going to f–king eat you alive.”
Check out what else Norton had to say about the Boston comedy scene, why Donald Trump hasn’t given America outrage fatigue, and more.
What do you like most about performing in Boston?
I never have a s–ty time when I’m in Boston. The crowds are always good. They’re really cranky white people. I love everything about Boston. The women are phenomenal, they’re all dirty. It’s just a really great place to do comedy.
As an outsider, what makes this place such a great breeding ground for comedy?
Boston… a lot of people are able to laugh at themselves. They’re very aggressive people and they’re no bulls–t. No bulls–t people tend to have really hardcore senses of humor, so they develop that early on, probably as a defense mechanism. So I think the whole town is built to be funny. But you better be funny. If you’re not, they’re going to f–king eat you alive.
No matter where you’re performing, can you spot a Boston comic when you see one?
You usually can. If the show is going really well and the comedian is still annoyed with the audience, chances are he’s a Boston comic. That’s the beauty of Boston comics.
You penned an op-ed for Time about outrage culture when Trevor Noah took some heat from people online last year. Fast forward to 2016 with the rise Donald Trump, do you think America is tired of being outraged all of the time?
People aren’t burned out on being outraged. The problem is, when people can’t bend you with their outrage, they move along. I think they tried it with Trump, but they realized he can’t be dropped on his knees because there’s nothing they can take from him. The worst that can happen is he doesn’t win. He doesn’t have anything they can remove from him. He’s too big of a figure. He can get headlines whenever he wants. I think a big, big part of the reason he’s able to do whatever he wants is because they tried to f–k with him and he cannot be shamed. I think that’s a great thing that he is showing people if you stand tall and say what you believe, whether it’s right or wrong or smart or stupid, if you just are who you are there’s not much they can do about it.
You’ve interviewed so many people through your SiriusXM shows. Do you have an all-time, favorite guest?
It’s hard to say. Ozzy Osbourne is one of my favorite interviews, he’s so good. [Mike] Tyson, when he’s been in studio, is always amazing. I interviewed a guy once named Clint Hill who wrote a book. He was Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal secret service agent. If you’ve ever seen the Zapruder film, after JFK is shot, there’s a guy who walks in behind the car who runs and jumps up on the trunk of the car as its taking off. That’s Clint Hill. I talked to him for any hour one time on the show and he was absolutely fascinating.
Jim Norton performs at the Wilbur on Friday, February 19.
This interview has been edited and condensed.