In 10 Words or Less
Some stay dry and others feel the pain...Monster Raaaaaaaaaain
Likes: "Opie and Anthony," Jim Norton, Dark humor
The Story So Far...
One of the hardest-working stand-up comics today, Jim Norton appears almost daily on the Opie and Anthony radio show, where he is often the funniest thing heard. Lil' Jimmy is also a filthy boy, whose act is best known for the overt and perverted sexual nature of his jokes and stories. The formerly-meaty-breasted zilch's first stand-up special was released on DVD in June of 2006. DVDTalk has a review here.
A Jersey boy done good, Norton has joined the ranks of the comedy elite with his own HBO special. When you consider the roster of stand-ups who have starred in their own hour on the channel, most memorably the legendary George Carlin, Norton may seem a bit out of place, but he's got an audience and he speaks right to them, making him the most divisive comic since the days of Andrew "Dice" Lay and Sam Kinison. He's certainly a love-him or hate-him experience.
The reason for that is his act, which is incredibly lewd. It's so lewd that it managed to get HBO to air a special titled "Young Boys Engaging in Mutual Oral Copulation Under a Porch"...or something like that. Using that signature confession, Norton jumps all over the perverted map, covering everything from measuring up to your lover's exes to having a threesome with Ron Jeremy to what makes for perfect genitals. Wide-ranging material, it's not, but he's got a solid handle on his strengths.
The topics get a bit broader as he touches on stand-up staples like stupid commercials (never have gel shoe inserts been so racist), embarrassing moments (shared via text messaging) and people in the news (which shows how little things change, as Imus and Britney Spears remain national news almost a year after the taping.) The material remains edgy and impolite, but strays from the bedroom, making it a nice respite from the rest of the set, as his rants about Muslim anger and terrorism are particularly entertaining. It's fun to see when he's pleased with himself, as a childlike glee crosses his face, making you hope a visit from Frank the Frowner is coming soon.
While I absolutely enjoy Norton's act, it's easy to get a bit creeped out when he shares personal and explicit bedroom stories with intimate details about moisture and raping Ann Coulter. If you get uncomfortable listening to someone talk about their sex lives, this should make you cringe. At points, he's so aggressively sexual, it's hard to even discern a joke, but then Lil' Jimmy saves the day with a muggy face or a well-timed bit of ridiculousness. Listening to the audience's reaction, apparently the discomfort is shared by others, as there are some lukewarm reactions to the harsher material.
The biggest problem with this set is that I've heard almost all of it before. I reviewed his One Night Stand DVD, I caught him on this year's Traveling Virus tour, and I listen to Opie and Anthony on pretty much a daily basis. Between the three, the majority of the material was familiar to me, which rarely lends itself to big laughs, as the surprises are missing. There were still a few smiles to be had, but on the whole, I had more appreciation for the material than enjoyment of it.
"Monster Rain" is a one-disc release packed in a standard keepcase. The disc features a static anamorphic widescreen main menu with options to watch the special, select scenes and check out the extras. There are no audio options and no subtitles, though closed captioning is included.
Presented as a anamorphic widescreen transfer, the special looks very nice, though, like most stand-up shows, the video doesn't have to do much to look all that good. The vibrant red of the backdrop sets off the pasty little fellow, with nice detail and a clean image. There's no noticeable dirt or damage here, and there are no obvious digital artifacts.
The audio is a very simple Dolby Digital 2.0 track that's right down the middle, with clear dialogue and no distortion, which is all you want from a stand-up DVD.
Two brief extras are included on this DVD, in the form of a pair of deleted segments, which run almost four minutes in length. There's nothing special about them, but they fit right in with the rest of the show, as he talks about his unattractive physique and how people view sexual histories. The bit about how women can smartly break up with a guy was actually worthy of being a part of the main feature.
The Bottom Line
I'd like to be able to say "He stinks, and I don't like him," just for the reference, but I can't. Instead, I'll leave that for the hordes of PC folk who undoubtedly will never watch this, yet decry it frequently. I'll stick to pointing out that Norton's fans have heard the majority of this material, so anyone looking for more of his comedy are going to be out of luck, outside of the two deleted scenes, At least the disc looks good and sounds solid. Those new to the comic can get all the insight into him they need from this hour-long special, with a dash of bonus O&A on top.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.