NEW YORK – Don't hate Graham Norton (search) because he's got Sandra Bernhard as his first guest.
And don't turn the channel because you figure that "The Graham Norton Effect," (search) the "talk" show premiering tonight on Comedy Central, will be run-of-the-mill. It ain't.
In fact, based on the first show (not the first 12 minutes!), "The Graham Norton Effect" is the most innovative "talk" show (or whatever the heck it is) in years.
For one thing, Norton, the flamboyant British wild man, makes crazy use of the Internet, audience members and practical jokes in ways you just won't believe. He's like the demon love child of Ali G and Alan Funt.
On tonight's premiere, (once you get past the bad, boring start), Norton does insane things like introducing interesting products such as a snorkel for oral sex.
He finds a toothbrush-fetish man on the Internet and has the entire audience brush their teeth while he calls the guy, who is not amused. I know this because the guy growls, "I think you're a horny bunch of dirty [expletive]s!" and slams down the phone.
Norton then opens a crate he ordered online, which contains a (very) lifelike rubber lady doll wearing underwear. The lifelike/life- size lady doll even moves her mouth. Don't ask.
They dress the doll in the tacky clothes of an audience member and sit her in a dark bar with a mike attached, and have her come on to men in the bar via Bernhard's voice. I was laughing so hard I thought I'd get arrested myself.
Then, in an incredible feat of shamelessness, Norton has four audience members actually tape their orgasmic sounds and then places all of their partners on a giant bed.
With the orgasmic screamers standing next to him, Norton makes guests Bernhard and Marlon Wayons match the sounds to the sex partners.
OK — it doesn't sound as hilarious as it is, but just the fact that some of the willing audience members are men and women in their 50s or 60s and look like your neighbors is laugh-out-loud insanity.
Norton is something of a British phenom, who probably rakes up more hate mail than Tony Blair, (well then again, maybe not).
He's not your average wise-guy; he's actually funnier, but make no mistake — this guy is not for everybody. In fact, he's probably not for most people. But then again, neither was "Monty Python" (search) and neither is Ali G.