Jim Norton
Monster Rain
Stand-up comedy DVD
HBO Home Video 2007
60 minutes

Get out the post 9/11 plastic sheeting and duct tape because Jim Norton has an HBO comedy special and Monster Rain is toxic stuff. Norton is an excellent, extremely adult oriented stand-up comic who, and it’s not from not trying hard, has yet to find an envelope he can’t push. As a matter of fact, I believe many years ago Norton saw an envelope and since it was just lying there on the toilet tank lid …. Norton opens his HBO stand-up comedy special and comedy DVD Monster Rain playing the Dr. Ruth of strange and gay sexual practices such as monster rain and docking (don’t ask, let Jim Norton explain it to you). Believe it or not, it gets darker after that. I’d say it gets funnier too but Monster Rain starts killer strong and Norton keeps it pumped for the whole show.

As a logical segue from homosexual practices, from one kind of shooting to another shooting if you will Jim Norton does an original take on the JFK assassination and the X marks the spot at Daly Plaza. This is one of the moments where seeing Norton perform really makes the bit that much funnier and darker. Another such moment is his very short joke on burn victims.

Normally, I prefer stand-up comedians who segue seamlessly. This is not something Jim Norton does often in his HBO special and DVD Monster Rain but in his case the fairly abrupt topic changes work. I also enjoyed his take on the TV poker fad, a comic bandwagon many stand-ups have jumped on but that Norton takes to different and original level.

Though, for my own reasons, I was not impressed with his defense of Don Imus, his routine on political correctness and how easily everybody, ever the strangest of strange bedfellows, gets on board is dead on. Of course, Jim Norton is rightly cynical and absolutely politically incorrect while doing it and it is how far he goes that really makes that routine a stone killer.

One really good segue, however, is when Norton goes from attacking various celebrities in the news, the usual list of has beens, to Ann Coulter and sexual practices. The celebrity in the news bit is already a bit dated (well, duh) but the sex preferences routine makes up for that.

Jim Norton understands very well that to be successful as a dark, offensive comic you have to be as nasty about yourself as you are about everything else you attack. He proves this in his discussion of his sex life. Unfortunately, for the next few days I will not be able to look at a Pepsi can without thinking of Norton’s inadequacies or read a Charlie Brown cartoon without getting….

There are many other things I appreciate about the kind of stand-up comedy Jim Norton does: he tosses out some really good jokes as if they were an afterthought, he sets you up for what could be a human touch moment and then totally surprises you with how quickly and totally he can turn it on its head and make it nasty as hell (and there’s a stupid comparison, nasty as hell. Nasty as Norton would be more accurate and descriptive.).

If there is one weak moment in the Jim Norton Monster Rain DVD and HBO special it is the Ron Jeremy bit near the end after he introduces Opie and Anthony. The closer on women’s vaginas is not bad, has a couple of good callbacks, but lacks the coup de grace such a rock solid show deserved. Personally, I would have had the girlfriend use the monster rain reference.


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