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Graham Norton: Red-Handed

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Graham Norton is a cheeky bugger--and proud of it. The Irish-born, openly gay British TV celebrity--host of the Channel 4 talk show So Graham Norton--could be Dame Edna Everage's naughty nephew. Looking a bit like Elton John with his stocky build and short-cropped hair, he's fond of shiny suits and scantily clad musclemen; the set of his TV show prominently displays a framed photo of hunky Miles O'Keeffe, star of the 1981 film Tarzan, the Ape Man. Norton's specialty is sexually charged humor delivered with schoolboyish insouciance and a droll sense of kitsch and camp. On TV his guests have included Joan Rivers, Boy George, and Gerard Depardieu, but in his solo stage show he forgoes celebrities to focus on his viewers, whom he delights in asking embarrassing questions. He's also apt to place onstage calls to escort agencies, dating services, and the like. Well-positioned to entertain American viewers, who already embrace Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, he has a brash, raunchy, disarming audience rapport that reminded me of veteran Chicago stand-up star Pudgy--like her, he's mastered stroking and insulting fans at the same time. After delighting New York audiences in two off-Broadway engagements last year and this, he's now on his first U.S. tour. Royal George Theatre Center, 1641 N. Halsted, 312-988-9000. Opens Tuesday, September 9, 8 PM. Through September 13: Wednesday-Saturday, 8 PM. $35.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy of Talkbalk Management.

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