One Night Stand: Jim Norton

One Night Stand: Jim Norton (2005)
HBO Home Video
Cast: Jim Norton
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Sneak Peek

Jim Norton is one of the rising comedians of this generation. Short and dumpy, he is not above pointing out his own physical imperfections, and he has a sense of humor to match his looks. His appearance on "One Night Stand, " HBO's stand-up comedy series, is a perfect showcase for his brand of low-hitting observations about society, politics, and relationships. Shocking and immensely offensive, Norton takes no prisoners when it comes to comic punches, and he will go over the edge to get a laugh.

Officially labeled at 30 minutes (the show actually clocks in at just under 28), this episode gets going quickly, starting with Norton's take on the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. Before long, he offers his politically incorrect commentary on dating, traveling in Iraq, Terri Schiavo, and even the porn industry. His comedy is twisted, to say the least, and takes some getting used to. It is crass and most certainly not for all tastes. The often sophomoric subject matter can be either refreshing or tiresome, depending on your sensibilities, but that is part of his appeal.

I wouldn't put Jim Norton in the top tier of American comics, but I don't think he would feel very comfortable there anyway. Much of his humor comes from the fact that he is neither as polished nor as clever with words as many other top comedians. He relies more on absurd and sometimes grotesque situations than witty wordplay, and he stays true to his New Jersey background. He seems quite at home with the live New York audience, and they obviously can't get enough of him.

The DVD presentation from HBO Home Video is in top form. While nothing extravagant, it's a tidy little release with a few goodies on it. "One Night Stand" comes in its original fullframe ratio with a solid image. Detail is sharp, and no edge enhancement or compression is in evidence.

The soundtrack is available only in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, which is just fine considering the nature of this program. Noise from the crowd is well-integrated while allowing Norton's voice to come through loud and clear. It's an overall pleasing experience, putting you right in the front row.

In addition to the jokes that made it to the air, there are 10 minutes of deleted scenes, mostly extensions of jokes that are in the final show. They are just as raunchy as you would expect and are most entertaining.

Also included on this release is a sneak peek at "Lucky Louie," an upcoming HBO sitcom featuring Norton and starring fellow comedian Louis CK. From the looks of things, it's going to be pretty funny, so keep an eye out for it.

Jim Norton's "One Night Stand" appearance is a raucous half-hour of laughs that is guaranteed to provoke a response. For better or for worse, Norton is a man who speaks his mind and is ready and willing to challenge convention. His brazen attitude keeps your attention, and his self-deprecating humor also makes him oddly endearing. If you're a fan of stand-up comedy that doesn't play it safe, then this release from HBO Home Video comes highly recommended.