Jim Norton: No Baby for You
4 stars (out of 5)
Jim Norton’s signature shock humor is balanced well with honest, relatable jokes about his personal life. He also delivers an insightful critique of how race-related comedy is perceived in the U.S.
Many people may consider Norton a comedian who has been vying for a less politically correct humor. In No Baby for You, Norton is not abstaining from the politically correct but making a case for a new, more progressive free space. He proposes that there is a guilt and “dishonesty” among many white audiences that causes them to recoil away from white comics discussing race. He then launches into a line of jokes that give a frank survey of America’s racial-political landscape and tests the very boundaries he tried to establish.
It’s tough to award a racial sensitivity medal to anyone who is or was a part of the Comedy Central Roast Posse and is not named Patrice O’Neal, but Norton’s dissertation is genuine and accurate.
In a couple instances he uses well-known black stereotypes with an ironic tone of voice that telegraphs an awareness of the joke’s absurdity. Whether this is successful in transporting these long used tropes from the offensive to the simply laughable is up to the listener, but most of us probably can’t stand to hear another watermelon joke anyhow.
The second half of the set chronicles Norton’s insecurities dating, explaining his own idiosyncratic experiences we can all understand. It is very funny to hear him lament what his girlfriend disclosed to him about previous sex partners. Norton’s bombastic humor resonates well in the personal domain. He manages to pair up many of his most explicit moments with an emotional tenderness and when it feels like he is plainly lambasting some poor soul he always turns around and gets even with himself.
Norton is a proven veteran and his new album may have a perfect balance for his style, equal parts acidic humor and self-revelation. No Baby for You is available for you December 11.