I have been a fan of Norton's for going on 15 years now, since I first heard him on the Opie and Anthony show when it was on terrestrial radio (a defunct station called KXOA
here in Sacramento that has since been replaced 3 different times and is now just a pre-programmed
crapfest), and he always brought his A game to the team, making them better and funnier. When he wasn't on the show, to me, it suffered a little because O&A didn't have Norton to bounce their ideas off him and when it came down to it, I think they both realized - which they did after a
bit - what great chemistry they all had.
Norton is a bit of an oddity. He is very open about his personal life (more so, I think than Kevin Smith) and is not afraid to push the boundaries of taste in his comedy. Now, there are some funny comedians of this generation, Patton Oswalt, Louis C.K., Kurt Metzger, Amy Schumer, Patrice O'Neil (RIP), Brian Regan and a few others that escape me, but I believe that Jim Norton is one of these top eschelon comedians that in a few years time will really hit his stride, not because of his connections to other comedians, but because of his unabashed truthfulness of his situation
and his life. Very few comedians, in my opinion, are willing to explore that part of their life that makes them who they are and that brings me to Norton's book:
Now, I'm generally not an autobiography type of guy, I've read a handfull of books - Sammy Hagar, Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth and Slash's book. I genrally find "tell alls" to be boring, like watching CSI or stereo instruction manuals, it's just not for me. So when my brother turned me on to this book, I figured "what the hell", I like Norton and thought it would be a great, fun read and I wasn't disappointed.Norton's book isn't a biography, it isn't even really a "book" per se. It's a collection of stream of conscience writing that isn't really there to tell a story, but to give a look into his daily (weekly or monthly) life as he struggled with coming up with an idea for the book to dealing with weird massage's to his trip to Rio and of course his time on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn.
What's great about this book is that it was written when Norton was 35, 12 years ago. So the insight into his character then versus now has seemed to change very little, he doesn't hold back with his thoughts on what he looks like, his "weight problem", his obsessive compulsion to get pictures with celebrities and his liberal use of getting massage's to deal with his over active sex drive.
As with all books of this type, it has a typical "I don't know what the hell I'm going to write about, so I thought a diary of some sorts would be interesting" and after reading through the opening salvo of this 200 page self depricating walk on the wild side with Norton, I was hooked, not because of that sentence, but because of what followed. Story after story filled the pages with unbelievable things that happened to Norton in the year (or so) that it took to get this book out. He even went into his famous Monster Rain story, near the end and to tell you the story does it a complete injustice, you have to read it to get the full effect. This is what takes Norton from being the local funny guy working the mic at the local yak shack to national radio host and full time working comedian. He is as good as anyone out there, quick witted, disturbingly honest and, as I have said already, goddammed funny.
The only problem that I had with the book, were the, what I call interstitials, the between the reality pages where Norton goes on these streams of conscience (I used it again because that's what they really are) takes on TV shows that he would like to make, but in the end it felt forced, like he was writing something for the publisher to fill the pages to hit a certain page count. For me, it pulled me out of the book, but it didn't stop me from turning the pages and that's what makes for a great book, you keep wanting to turn the pages and when you get to the end, you get pissed.
As for the stories, the prostitutes in South America with Patrice O'Neil and his rucksack of dildo's, Monster Rain, Rich Vos' wedding and Jim Florentine's birthday were some of the highlights, but I think the best story of the whole book is When Jim and Bobby Kelly were hanging out at Bobby's apartment, but you have to read the story, it starts on pg 103.
I will say this, I have learned some important lessons in life from this book -
Never take a bet to sniff behind Vos' ear.
Never sniff anything from Norton's belly button.
Don't piss off the O&A Pests
Norton will drop everything he's doing to get a pic with a celeb... EVERYTHING.
My prediction is:
Jim Norton will be huge within the next five years as a comedian.
As far as my opinion on this book? It's a great read, pick it up on Amazon or any brick and mortar store and sit back and enjoy Jim's look on life.
The worst is the belly button story and I still feel bad for Bobby Kelly, but not that bad.