Norm Macdonald, one of Saturday night’s most prominent and adored cast members
whose laconic delivery of cutting and biting remarks made him a part of today’s nine-year private fight against cancer, died. He was sixty-one.
His management company Brillstein Entertainment confirmed Macdonald’s death on Deadline. A longtime productive partner and friend of the comedian, Lori Jo Hoekstra, who died with him, claimed that Macdonald fought against cancer over a decade ago, but that he was adamant about keeping his health problems secret from family, friends, and admirers.
Hoekstra stated, “He was the proudest of his humor. “I never wanted the diagnosis to influence how he or she was seen by the audience or his loved ones. The standard had been a pure farce.
He once remarked, “A joke ought to startle someone, it ought never to pander.” Surely he never fucked. The standard is going to be sorely missed. “
It was planned for Macdonald in November at the New York Comedy Festival.
In the 1993–98 season, Macdonald was a cast member of SNL, making him the most important influence on the “weekend update” portions of the program. Macdonald was remembered as one of its most powerful “Update” anchors, pivoting away from the slapstick approach of Chevy Chase, as well as toward his successor, Colin Quinn,’s most barbed political approach, both for his droll style and for his refusal to go easy on O.J. Simpson despite the reported pressure from NBC execs.
Born in Quebec City on October 17, 1959, MacDonald began his show business career in Canadian comedy clubs, developing a deadpan style that became both his hallmark and an important touchstone for a generation of comedians. A competitor for Star Search in 1990, he gathered on the Dennis Miller Show
, his first regular TV show with the guy who led the 1986-91 “Weekend Update.”
For the 1992-93 season, Macdonald was recruited to write for Roseanne Barr’s series “Roseanne” before the coveted concert at NBC’s Night Live on Saturday.
One of his most famous SNL routines was Burt Reynolds,
who had his gum-chomping impressions with a lovely grin, bolo tie, and smart manner, frequently at funny odds with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek. His Reynolds was almost his best: Andy Rooney, Clint Eastwood, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino, Mr. Bean, and Rod Serling, among others, are all on the same roster as McDonald’s.
Macdonald’s leaving the program itself was contentious. He often linked his dismissal to Simpson’s assassination, despite what he claimed was the disapproval of the president of the Western Coast division of NBC, Don Ohlmeyer, who stated that Macdonald was an old soccer buddy. While Simpson’s jury still deliberated, Macdonald’s top update item read,
“They have to make up their minds or free him.” He stated, “Now, it’s ultimately official: killing is allowed in California State,” after the decision not to kill.
Macdonald appeared in a comedy series of his own, Norm, from 1999-2001 after leaving SNL in 1998. In 2018, Norm Macdonald had a program and gave a one-season chat show for Netflix. In the 1992 Special for Free to Learn: A Comedy and Music for Amnesty International, he was again nominated for the CableACE Award.
McDonald’s standard Seth Rogan praises Remember: “Comedy Giant,” Edgar Wright said. “Thank you to everyone who laughs.”
Other credits include the titular character in A Minute with Stan Hooper, the rudderless Rusty Heck, an eccentric brother to Neil Flynn’s Mike Heck, the Fox Sitcom which lasted half a season in 2003 and the repetition in the 2015 series Sunryside, and The Middle from 2010 to 2018.
Also He has provided his voice for animated projects like Mika Tyson Mysteries, Orville, FairlyOddPArents, Skylanders Academy, and other projects,
including Fairly NewsRadio and the Drew Carey Show. His resume included the Larry Sanders show.
He appeared in a number of films, including Grown Ups, Funny People, Screwed, Duece Bigelow: Male Gigolo, Dr. Dolittle, The Ridiculous Six, Jack and Jill, The Animal, and Larry Flynt vs. Billy Madison – all of which featured SNL veterans – and released three stand-up comedy albums, Ridiculous (1996), Me Doing Standup (2011), and The Ridiculous Six (2012).
In 2016, he also played in a short-lived series of KFC advertisements, as Colonel Sanders, dividing spectators with bizarre advertising. His unique approach to humor even extended to TV posters.
Over the years, he appeared on many late-night programs, including Late Night with David Letterman and Conan
ultimately attaining the renowned status of a comedian, as he left Letterman, O’Brien, and everyone in earshot. In an unforgettable 2014 Conan appearance that later posted on YouTube by O’Brien’s Team Coco under the heading of “Standard Macdonald Tells The Most Convoluted Joke Ever”, Macdonald brings back laughter and frustration for the host and his sidekick, Andy Richter, with a wild, shaggy dog tale of Québec, baby dolphins, and a scornful pun which O’Brien admits: “
Norm Macdonald Dies: Influential Comedian & Former ‘SNL’ Weekend Update Anchor Was 61