It was just released to the public that Norm Macdonald has died from cancer at the age of 61. Apparently, he had kept his cancer a secret from his friends, family, and fans. I loved Norm Macdonald not only for the dry, witty, oftentimes offensive sense of humor but for how not everybody understood him and that was okay. In honor of Norm, I thought I’d share a few reasons why I loved him and show some prime examples of just how perfect of a comedian he was. There are few comedians that are able to capture the brilliancy that Norm Macdonald had. He was the king of dad humor. From having 10 minute long jokes with no punchline, saving shitty celebrity interviews, and dividing a crowd with a single sentence, Norm was a comedic powerhouse that did things his own way and never cared what you thought about him.
Norm’s career on SNL is where a lot of people discovered him and while he wasn’t a perfect fit for sketches, he found his footing as the best (and most controversial) weekend update host to date. He is probably the most ever booed weekend update host as well due to the brutal political jabs he would take at people. Every Saturday night Norm was telling jokes about current events that would divide the audience or leave them not knowing whether they should laugh or not. Here is a prime example:
Getting booed was a common occurrence for Norm because he famously (in my mind) never cared what you thought about him or his jokes. If you laughed, you laughed. If you didn’t, you didn’t. He was already on the next joke. He was confident in his material and would let jokes just sit in the air for much longer than you’d expect, almost as if he was saying “yea I just said that… so what?” He would say jokes and throw them at you like a live grenade forcing you to decide what to do with them:
Forgive the quality and references as these were all filmed in the 90s, but still funny regardless. At first glance, you may think he comes off as boring, but that’s the point a lot of the time. The uncertainty and confusion you can hear when Norm tells a joke is astounding. You can tell who is and isn’t a fan the minute he opens his mouth. The people that know him sit back and watch the people who don’t as they either hate him or fall in love. Norm never pandered to his audience.
Personally, I will remember Norm for being the single best talk show guest to date with how comedically unaware he came off as. He would interrupt guests, go off script and generally seem like he doesn’t care about the interview. All of these things are what would normally make a talk show guest terrible, but Norm had a way of using those attributes to his advantage and win the crowd over. He would also “save” interviews. If a quest or interview seemed to be going bad or he just knew he had a zinger, Norm would not hesitate to jump into the conversation with some nugget of comedic gold that either made the guest confused or burst out laughing:
Again, some of this was the 90s so not every celebrity is Margot Robbie and Tom Holland talking about their favorite fruit while Jimmy Fallon cackles like a hyena. Conan O’Brien has stated that Norm Macdonald is his all-time favorite guest for just how unpredictable he would be. Conan would never have anything planned when Norm was scheduled it would just be chaos. He is not afraid to say what he thinks which makes him the perfect comedian to roast you:
I will always remember the first time I saw Norm Macdonald on Conan back in high school. I went from “I don’t get it. Why is this funny?” to “holy shit this is hilarious! Who the fuck is this guy!?” in a matter of minutes. From then on I was following the Norm Macdonald train. He was maybe the last comedian that truly didn’t give a shit about getting canceled. He probably didn’t even know what “getting canceled” meant.
The king of dad jokes. God bless you, Norm Macdonald.