Norm Macdonald, the deadpan acerbic comedian who came to fame during his stint on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, passed away today after a lengthy bout with cancer. Macdonald was 61.
Macdonald’s style, as showcased when he performed the Weekend Update skit on Saturday Night Live from 1994 to 1998, was predominantly based on letting the audience in on the joke, a knowing wink at how it did — or at least should — understand the often subtle referential humor at which he excelled.
Macdonald was that rarity in Hollywood in general and comedy in particular: an unapologetic conservative. He also understood that comedy was just that — comedy — and thus was never reluctant to skewer those on either side of the political spectrum without reservation. Macdonald was a youthful old school comedian, the kind who held firm to their own convictions yet would seldom if ever show their hand when performing. Instead, it was the comedy itself that mattered and was all that mattered.
Macdonald was unafraid to stir the pot when need be. In 2018, he aroused the ire of the then-#MeToo worshipping media when he stated in an interview:
“The model used to be: admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition and then we give you a second chance. Now it’s admit wrongdoing and you’re finished,” Macdonald told the trade publication, later adding: “I do think that at some point it will end with a completely innocent person of prominence sticking a gun in his head and ending it.”
Earlier in his career, MacDonald was fired from Saturday Night Live despite his popularity on the show, reason being his continuously going after O.J. Simpson much to the ire of NBC executive and longtime Simpson friend Don Ohlmeyer.
Macdonald’s longtime friend and business partner Lori Jo Hoekstra commented in a statement through his management firm:
“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. “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.”
Macdonald’s passing has brought on universal lamenting from fellow performers and both sides of the political spectrum.
We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind. https://t.co/0sXoCLEtuG
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 14, 2021
This photo was taken after I was a guest on Norm’s show. At dinner the laughs just continued nonstop. He will be missed. RIP Norm Macdonald pic.twitter.com/DToJCUBdU2
— Gilbert Gottfried (@RealGilbert) September 14, 2021
Mother of God noooooo https://t.co/f18W266b42
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 14, 2021
One of the great comedic geniuses, free thinkers, all around true originals of all time. Ben and I were lucky enough to see him perform in Vegas and it was incredible.
Beyond tragic. Condolences to his friends, family and loved ones. https://t.co/ewtpPsAQO9
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) September 14, 2021
Rest in Peace, Norm. And thank you.