Monday, August 11, 2014

Jim Norton's "American Degenerate"


Jim Norton is back with a new album, “American Degenerate,” and if you’re already familiar with his style of comedy then you know exactly what to expect: A CD packed with great stories that sometimes push the envelope, are sometimes cringe-worthy, and are always funny. 

Norton doesn’t disappoint.

Once again we’re treated to a vast assortment of “could only happen to him” stories that make us laugh and wince simultaneously. Norton doesn’t merely have an odd encounter with the man seated next to him on an airplane; Norton finds himself swept away by the stranger’s man-scent in what turns out to be  slightly homoerotic and more-than-slightly humiliating for the both of them. Likewise, as if it wasn’t already a major turn-off that Norton has to wear a sleep apnea mask that leaves him looking like Bane In Bed, thanks to his facial skeletal structure he has to opt for an even more-demeaning optional accessory.

That’s just the way things seem to go for Norton. He’s a human magnet that attracts all things Murphy’s Law. You can’t help but feel bad for him when not only does the Hot Girl With The Incredible Ass (that Norton is more than happy to describe in great detail) catch him ogling her backside at the gym…she also hears him doing it (Yep. That can happen). His attempt to flirt with a flight attendant is mistaken for a bomb threat and no matter what time of day he decides to work out, that creepy old naked dude is going to be there. Right there. Patpatpatpatpatpatpat.

Lest you think Norton is totally innocent, he freely reveals he’s more devious than his appearance (That of every guy on the jury in 1955) may first imply. He has an impressive Gag Peanut Brittle Can metaphor that is lost on a good portion of the crowd and if you ever wondered just how you can turn a standard massage into one with a “happy ending,” well…Norton’s got you covered. In a step-by-step explanation that leaves no possibility unexplored, he takes us through the best way to bump your odds that is just as well plotted out as a plan to rob a Vegas casino. Danny Ocean would be proud.

This, of course, leads to Norton’s brilliant commentary on the whole John Travolta/massage scandal. He’s not saying that Travolta is gay or guilty of the charges brought upon him… but “it don’t look good.” Norton isn’t just speculating, he’s talking from experience. He believes the claims of those suing Travolta (Even though he thinks they’re ridiculous for doing so) mostly because he’s tried each of the moves Travolta is accused of doing during sessions of his own.

Norton is unapologetic and stands by his claims, especially when it comes to people who find themselves offended by comedy. He has a point when he claims that comedy is the only art form where people feel they have to agree with and/or approve of it. Although he understands why comedians like Tracy Morgan and Daniel Tosh recently apologized for…well, basically doing what comedians are supposed to do, Norton holds fast to the stance that they shouldn’t have had to do it. I wholeheartedly agree. He may be an American Degenerate, but Norton is an American Degenerate with a helluva point.


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