Jim Norton Eglise du Gesu, Montreal QC, July 27
Published Jul 29, 2017There's an overused adage about "wanting to have a beer" with certain celebrities. Not that Jim Norton would consider himself a celebrity — tonight he hasn't quite filled Montreal's Le Gesu theatre, and insists he's "Very happy for Kevin Hart!" — but Norton is that person tenfold. More appropriately, you'd want to get shitfaced blasted with him.
There's a sense he was the funniest guy in his boyhood crew, and he demonstrates this early at his JFL show Far From Delightful with personable crowd work. He sees two pairs of vacant seats in the front row, takes a few shots at his ability to draw, then he takes it darker; "Wouldn't it be funny if after the show, there were two dead bodies and flaming wreckage outside?" Not everyone can make that work. Jim Norton can. He of course fills those seats with holders of cheap ones, and now you like him a little bit more.
Surprisingly, he launches into airline humour, because "It's 1985 at the Improv." It's a write what you know approach, because Norton travels a lot. Most often it's L..A to New York, a route of frequent celebrity sightings. He starts asking people; "Who have you seen on a flight?"; "Wayne Gretzky" is the first answer. Jim insists that's a good one, but he wouldn't know what to say. "How does it feel when you're out there on the ice?" He decides he would probably cup his testicles and thank him for Paulina Gretzky.
As for him, he's been seated beside Nicolas Cage and got him to sign a flight menu — It was nice flying with you, Nicolas Cage — and he also flew with Diana Ross. When he approached her for a photo, she recoiled and said "Noooo, please!!" He presses on by lying to her — "My parents met at one of your concerts!" He hates himself for that, lying to a 70-year-old woman for a photo. But goddamn it, it's Diana Ross.
Relatability might be a cornerstone of his comedy. He gets weird seeing celebrities too. He's pissed when people waste great seats, and he'll see they get used. He can deliver crass liners delivered like the funniest guy you went to high school with. By the show's end, you think about hanging around to talk to him. He may be far from delightful, but he is charming as hell.