WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Wichita native has made a name for himself in the comedy world.
Sam Norton, 32, released his first album, “White Noise”, on iTunes on June 7. It debuted at number 7 ahead of “The Essential Weird Al Yankovic.”
“This is a culmination of like 13 years of me being a silly-goof ball,” said Norton.
Norton began his comedy career in 2006. That’s when he and his buddy agreed to be a part of open-mic night at the Wichita Loony Bin.
“We were young kids and we were like, ‘yeah, we will do it!’ I went up and bombed,'” Norton laughed.
Despite his sub-par performance, Norton said he was hooked. It wasn’t long after that, the 19-year-old decided to leave Wichita State University and pursue a career as a stand-up comedian.
“I did my finals and told my parents I was going to be a comedian and they said, ‘OK, you can get out of our house,'” he said.
Norton said he understood his parents concern, but it did not stop him. He moved in with his brother in Wichita.
“I would go to karaoke night at bars at a couple places here in Wichita and then be like, ‘Hey, I want to do this song, but I would say don’t play the music. I want to go a capella, and then I would just start doing jokes,'” he said.
He would also drive to Oklahoma and Kansas City to perform, even if it was only for 2 minutes.
“You just have to do what you’ve got to do,” he said.
Norton eventually moved in with another one of his brothers in Kansas City before moving to Chicago and now Toronto.
However, he will admit: it was not an easy road to success.
“I was working multiple full-time jobs and doing this at night, so I wasn’t really sleeping at all,” Norton said. “I sold stuff out of the trunk of my car that I used to own. I used to make custom-tattoo designs. I used to make custom shoes. I did anything just to make money to feed this habit.”
Norton said stand-up comedy is like a drug.
“I am just addicted to attention and validation. I’m just a needy-little boy is basically all it is. I wish it was something cooler than that, but I like the attention and getting reactions out of people,” he laughed.
He said a lot of that comes from his upbringing. Norton is one of five children.
“My immediate family is up to like 25, so whenever we get together it’s really whoever is trying to hold court and take over the room, so you do that with stories and being not mean but roasting everybody,” Norton said.
Despite his success, Norton is proud to call Wichita home. He said a lot of his ideas come from his childhood and time spent in Kansas.
“I still joke about it now. As much as I have traveled and I have lived life, I still feel like a little-prairie kid wanting to play in the Big Ditch with no shoes on,” he laughed.
Norton said at one time his dreams felt unreachable.
“It was always very foreign and far away. It was almost the same concept of like being the president, like you almost had to be born into it because I don’t know any comedians, especially here in Wichita. All I know is factory workers, politicians, teachers and cops,” he explained.
Now, Norton has made a name for himself in Wichita. He is a successful stand-up comedian and he is proud of how far the comedy scene in the Air Capital has come.
“The people I have seen they are way better than I was when I first started. Comedy is a fourth option here in Wichita,” Norton said.
Norton now lives with his wife and daughter in Toronto. He performs at the Wichita Loony Bin at least once every two years. He said he is now thinking about dabbling into acting.