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Top 10 Norm Macdonald Moments 

September 15, 2021 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Norm Macdonald Image Credit: Saturday Night Live/NBC

Norm Macdonald, comedian and Saturday Night Live alum star, has battled cancer to a draw. 

And before you run down to the comments to say something about that terminology, this is a reference to Norm’s thoughts on cancer when he said, “I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss. That’s a draw.”

You either got Norm or you didn’t and if you didn’t, I’m sorry for you. 

After nearly living with the disease for a decade, keeping it private, Macdonald’s death was announced by his management firm, with the comedian’s friend and producing partner, Lori Jo Hoekstra, explaining he wanted to keep his health struggles private. 

“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra shared. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Norm was often referred to as a “comic’s comic”. He was witty, understood satire at its most complex, and was a master of the “off the cuff” comment that is sorely missing in today’s interview world. 

Most of us know the hits. He was an SNL cast member from 1993-98, and as anchor of the Weekend Update, his biting style spared no one. Which created the situation in which he was fired from the desk but remained on the show in some capacity.

Norm appeared in movies like Billy Madison, the underrated Dirty Work, and television shows like Norm, The Middle, and voicework on The Orville.

But at his heart, he was a standup comedian. “I sort of have open invitations from a lot of people to do TV. But it’s very hard for me to do roles in sitcoms and movies because I’m not a great actor, so if the material isn’t good I’m in torment while I do it,” Macdonald told the New York Times in 2010. “I like to do talk show appearances where I get to just be myself, and I do stand-up where I can completely be myself. That’s what I’ve always loved the most, of anything.”

While there is only audio, check out Macdonald’s infamous roast of Bob Saget during the 2008 Comedy Central special. 

I’ll be honest. It’s impossible to sum up Norm’s best moments in 10 videos. I’ve put some of my personal favorites in here but do yourself a favor and seek out the others. You won’t regret it. 

How about we start with Norm’s Burt Reynolds…excuse me…Turd Ferguson on SNL’s Jeopardy! skits.

While I loved Dirty Work from the first viewing, it took the world a little longer to appreciate the hilarity it brought to the screen. Here’s but a small sample. 

What can we say about Norm’s delivery? The man knew how to use a stutter and pause. Many times you knew the punchline but it was how he set it up and delivered the payoff that made the journey worth it. 

As mentioned above, Norm Macdonald brought a new energy to the SNL desk. His feud with Don Ohlmeyer made for great entertainment and no one relished it more than David Letterman. 

Speaking of Letterman, Norm telling a story that involved a bed-and-breakfast and a late night Scrabble game with Old Harold Delaney will never NOT be funny to me. 

Norm never made it a secret that he loved Bill Cosby. He also never made it a secret that he once had one of the best Cosby stories ever. Now it’s not even in the Top 1000.

Norm was in his element when he was telling a story (real or not) on a talk show. Letterman, Conan, Dennis Miller…no matter. “He’s a good guy…:”

For many, this interview with Courtney Thorne-Smith on Conan’s Late Night in 1997 was classic Norm Macdonald. In case you didn’t know, Norm was sick and had taken quite a bit of cold medicine before his interview. To this day it’s the greatest Courtney Thorne-Smith interview in the history of Hollywood. 

Norm on Weekend Update never got the appreciation he deserved but thanks to YouTube, we can go back and pay respect to not only his style but content. No one before or after did it better.

If you’ve never heard the entire Norm and Bob Uecker story, here it is. The real meat and potatoes is when Norm and Artie are on Howard Stern. You’ll never listen to a baseball announcer the same way again.

Norm’s YouTube show was a great example of what we would have gotten if someone had offered him a Late Night show. It wasn’t meant to be but it would have been different than anything you’ve seen with a distinct humor that wouldn’t play to audiences used to “broad humor”. His first episode with Super Dave was an instant classic. 

I could go on and on but hopefully you’ve enjoyed some (or all!) of these. Yes, I snuck in more than 10 and I could go for 50 more. I’ll leave you with Norm and his gift basket delivery to Conan after learning NBC was replacing him with Jay Leno. It was a crazy time and only Norm could deliver a pitch perfect card reading to break the mood. Long live the king!

Share your favorite Norm memory below!

article topics :

Norm Macdonald, Steve Gustafson