Last Night: Jim Norton at the South Beach Comedy Festival
With Amy Schumer
Wednesday, January 21
The Lincoln Theater, Miami Beach
Better Than: Cheech & Chong's show around the corner, maybe
It's unclear whether the big, bad economy can be blamed for the less-than-full turnout at Jim Norton's South Beach Comedy Festival gig last night at the Lincoln Theater. Plenty of people seemed to be exiting, late-night, from Cheech & Chong's show at the Fillmore, around the corner. While Norton regularly sells out large venues around New York, alas, the radio morning show where he largely got his start, the Opie and Anthony show, is available down here only to satellite radio subscribers. And as Norton's star gradually rises, it seemed only northern transplants and early adopters showed up in South Beach, and that's too bad for everyone else. While he started out a little slow and sniffly, he quickly gained his trademark indignant steam.
Opener Amy Schumer was as cute as a button, and took a Sarah Silverman-like approach in capitalizing on this cuteness to get away with saying incongruously nasty things. "Asian people love me, it's like white on rice," she said at one point, after recounting that now that she's in her late twenties, her "friends have literally just started keeping their kids."
For the oversensitive, she was not, but then again, neither was the headliner: Upon taking the stage, Jim Norton informed us that his name had been called to enter as he was taking a leak. And on surveying the crowd: "Hitler was more popular than Warsaw than I am in Miami." But where past routines have focused mainly on almost disgustingly detailed self-deprecation, Norton's repertoire has expanded, to funny, inclusive effect, to further observations on world events at large. Of course there was a bit on the recent US Airways crash in New York, the inauguration, and even, reaching back a little, Eliot Spitzer.
But other tsubjects to run through the verbal shredder included his iPhone, Jon and Kate Plus 8, and his girlfriend, who he repeatedly informed us he had been warring with all day. (However, he noted, it's hard to break up with her because she gives great head).
Of course, though, the discussion eventually came around to his sexual preferences -- "large pussies" and cameltoe -- and a long riff on his inability, at age 40, to always maintain an erection. It sounds puerile, and it kind of was, but Norton's strength is in inviting his audience to laugh at him, and thus feel better about the material that hits closer to home. And after all that, he exited to Motörhead. That's always a win.
Personal Bias: I spend a lot of time with an Opie and Anthony obsessive.
Random Detail: Norton mentioned, at least once, his MySpace page, which he seems to use as often as a teenage girl does. Visit it at www.myspace.com/jimnorton.
By the Way: His new book, I Hate Your Guts, is available now.