Dictionary.com defines the word "despicable" as "deserving to be despised." Don't let the artwork of Jim Norton's new CD by the same name fool you. Despite the red arrow underneath the album title pointing right at Norton's head, neither he nor this project is despicable. But that doesn't mean he hasn't come prepared with a laundry list of items that he feels are more than "deserving to be despised."
Despicable isn't a podium for Norton to point out life's silly little quirks; that would be putting it way too mildly. He's not doing standard "did you ever notice" material; that would be way too hacky. And he isn't standing back with amused befuddlement at things that "get his goat"; that would just be way too passive.
Norton is on the offensive here and he's issued a full-forced attack on pretty much everything around him. These aren't the ravings of a lunatic, mind you. Norton's assaults are well-written, cleverly crafted slings and arrows that never miss their mark. The spirited passion behind his words conveys he's not just spinning his wheels, here. He's put some thought into this and by God there are some things that need to be said. He's an extremely gifted speaker with such a persuasive and commanding presence, you'll soon find yourself agreeing with Norton's heated fervor. You know, he's right! That fat lady who got stuck to her couch really does suck! Penguins are idiots! TV poker players really should be gambling with their own cash! And your baby's fat, featureless face really is begging to be mistaken for the wrong gender.
Listening to Norton try to keep his rage in check - and sometimes failing - as his temper bubbles under the surface while addressing Heather Mills, Laura Bush's secret service agents, women who tell workplace anecdotes, and - again - those dumbass penguins is what makes Despicable so much fun. It's a little like watching security footage of a guy going off the deep end, destroying his office cubicle and everything within a 10-yard radius because the "P" on his keyboard stopped working. The reaction is so out of proportion, you can't help but laugh.
A lot of comedians save their "blue" material for the last portion of their comedy set, and Norton is no exception. Norton goes blue and then some. It's fair to say Norton goes beyond blue. His descriptions are so graphic as he brags/confesses about his sexual exploits, I think it's fair to say that Norton goes indigo. The track listing of the second half of the album contains more asterisks than a Barry Bonds/Mark McGwire home run derby.
Personally, I think if a comedian is going to be explicit, then they need to make sure they don't lose sight of being funny. That's one of the reasons Bob Saget drives me up a post. He thinks he's funny because he drops the F-bomb. "Oh, look at me being bad and saying dirty words! Look how funny I am!" That's not it. Jim Norton has mastered the precarious art of being funny while dropping the F-bomb. And the C-bomb. And every other lettered bomb out there.
Perhaps to some people, that's despicable. For Jim Norton, it's an art.