When you're an unfiltered comedian/morning radio personality like Jim Norton, being a free-speech advocate also comes with the territory.
We're talking about a man with no qualms talking about his fondness for prostitutes, transsexuals, golden showers and other freaky-sneaky perversions ("It sounds so bad when you list it like that," Norton says after chuckling.)
So, when Phil Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's hit reality show Duck Dynasty, made controversial comments regarding the gay and black community in a GQ article, Norton set off a stream of tweets noting how Robertson had the right to say the dumb things he did.
"We are a country who pretends to like freedom of expression, freedom of thought," he says. "But we only like freedom of expression and freedom of thought when we agree with it or when we don't find it offensive. It's easy to defend stuff we agree with. I don't agree with Phil. I think he's a bum. I don't like his view. I don't like religious conservatives. I think they suck. But I think he should suffer zero penalties for saying what he believes."
A 24-year veteran of the stand-up stage, the 45-year-old New York-based Jersey boy also credits his years on the popular Opie and Anthony Show, where he's been a regular since 2000, for helping him find his honest, comic voice. "You're on the radio and you're just talking freely, and you don't need a big audience there to laugh or groan," he says.
"So, what happens is then people go, 'Dude, I love that thing you said!' Like, you don't have to go onstage for an hour and bomb, talking about something really risky. You do it on the radio, and then people come and say they like it. It just becomes kind of a natural way to go."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Bombs on stage."