Between Amy Schumer’s The Leather Special and two comedy hours from Dave Chappelle, March has been a good month for Netflix. Yet big names like these aren’t the only reason the streaming comedy boom is alive and well for the dominant media platform. Lesser known, but nonetheless successful stand-ups are dropping new specials with the streaming service regularly, and even sketch films like Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special are getting their turn. Whether or not this surplus is ultimately good remains to be seen, but one thing is clear — those who came before are here to stay.
Like Jim Norton, the former Opie and Anthony co-host who runs his own show on Sirius XM with Sam Roberts. Two years ago he released his third comedy special, Contextually Inadequate on Epix, a Netflix rival. The longtime stand-up has since joined forces with the latter, resulting in Mouthful of Shame, one of many original Netflix comedy specials to premiere in March. Despite the crowded room, however, Norton doesn’t mind the company it affords him, like none other than legendary actor Robert De Niro, whose bare ass-spanking cameo in Mouthful of Shame‘s opener stands among Norton’s favorite memories.
I re-watched Mouthful of Shame and Amy Schumer’s The Leather Special over the weekend, then woke up early to see Dave Chappelle’s latest. You’re right in the middle of Netflix’s boom.
You made your previous special, Contextually Inadequate, with Epix. You’d already done several with them at that point, while Burr was doing the same over at Netflix. Now there’s a big push, but you were at the forefront of it before everybody else.
This is my first Netflix original, which is great. Obviously you want to be here. It’s shown over all the world and there’s no premiere. You can just say, “Okay, it’s up and streaming. Go check it out.” It’s such a great place to be. I think it’s where most of us want to do specials. I’m really, really happy to be on Netflix. Honestly.
Why do you think most comics want to be on Netflix?
I think mostly because it’s up all the time. They don’t put the pressure on you for the premiere. You know what I mean? They say, “Hey, you can just go out and promote it.” Also, they’re hands-off creatively. They let me do whatever I wanted. They had faith in the fact that I was going to do a decent special, and they seem happy with it. It was an amazing experience working with them. I’d love to do it again.
Subscribers pay for constant access, and there’s no commercials. You don’t have to edit the final hour for commercial breaks, which cuts up jokes.
Even HBO and Showtime are great places to be, but you have to aim for a very specific time. 56 minutes, so they can put a few promos in before. The great thing about Netflix is when you ask, “How long?” they say, “I don’t give a shit.” An hour, an hour and 10 minutes — whatever works. They really couldn’t care less, which was so much fun. It was really satisfying to deal with people like that, because they make you feel like they actually have faith in what you do.