Comedian Jim Norton to perform in Grand Rapids

GVL / Courtesy -
Jim Norton

GVL / Courtesy – Jim Norton

Anne Marie Smit

Once the chaos of the holidays settles down and mid-January hits, many people feel at a loss for fun things to do. For those who need a little bit of a boost on a dull winter day or just a break from their studies, comedian and podcast host Jim Norton will be coming to 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Jan. 27.

Norton began his career in stand-up comedy in 1990 when he started making appearances on stage. In 1997, comedian Andrew Dice Clay was impressed with his appearance on “The Louie Show” and chose Norton to open his shows, which jump-started many opportunities for Norton in his career. In 2001, he became a co-host for the radio show “Opie and Anthony,” and then he hosted the more recent radio shows “Opie with Jim Norton” and the “Jim Norton Advice Show.”

While Norton began his career in stand-up comedy, his podcasts are how many people first become familiar with him. Currently, he co-hosts the podcast “UFC Unfiltered” with Matt Serra, the radio show “Jim Norton and Sam Roberts,” and “The Chip Chipperperson Podcast” in 2017. 

Norton said he didn’t excel in the classroom growing up but that he could always make people laugh, which made him realize from a young age that he wanted to be a comedian.

“Honestly, it’s all I was ever good at—being funny,” Norton said. “The only thing that I was consistently good at was making people laugh, and I love the high of it, so that kind of convinced me very early on. It was the only job that I ever wanted.”

Norton said for his career in stand-up comedy, making public appearances often was key to his success. He confessed that putting his personal life on the back burner was necessary for him in the early stages of his career—that he was successful, in part, because his career always came first for him.

“I was hungry; nothing got in my way,” Norton said. “I made myself get on stage every night. You have to not be lazy, and you have to be willing to be on stage every night. It’s okay to be afraid of failure. We’re all terrified to go up there and suck, but realize it’s a part of it and the failures are temporary and aren’t going to break you.”

The biggest challenge Norton has faced throughout his career is learning not to stress about making jokes that sound smart and to focus instead on being honest. The most important thing, he said, is to be funny, and people are drawn to comedians for their honesty and openness about topics that just aren’t discussed in day-to-day life.

“The biggest challenge in being a comedian is to avoid the temptation of trying to be right all the time,” he said. “As a comic, you have to be honest and you have to be funny. The biggest challenge is to avoid falling into the trap of trying to sound smart and trying to get points for being right. Being right is great, but it’s not as important as being funny or honest.”

Norton emphasized the importance of not just having a vision and dreaming about it, but being intentional about making it a reality, even if you fail. Dropping out of high school was ultimately motivating for Norton because it left him with no other option than following his dream to be a comedian. 

“The first move is drop out of high school; that helped a lot,” Norton said. “Leave yourself no future. You gotta know that you’ve got nothing else, and then get on stage. Make yourself go on stage. It’s scary, and we all want to pretend that we want to do it and not actually let ourselves do it. 

“The most important thing for me was actually getting myself on stage. Making myself do it and not just dream about it. You have to get off your ass and actually take the risk that you’re going to fail.” 

For more information on Norton’s upcoming show, visit