Macdonald, who was 61, died Tuesday after suffering from cancer for nine years, but keeping it a secret, according to Brillstein Entertainment Partners, his management company in Los Angeles.
He never reached the same heights on television after being fired from “SNL” in 1998, but was a tireless guest of stand-up comedy and popular talk show whose death caused an outpouring of fellow comedians.
“Norm was into his own kind of comedy,” Sarah Silverman tweeted. “Nobody likes him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his business.
Macdonald, the son of two teachers, grew up in Quebec, Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences, calling him a “comedic genius and a great Canadian”.
He was a stand-up comedian and briefly a writer for the sitcom “Roseanne” when he was cast to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1993.
He became known for his esoteric impressions, including Burt Reynolds, who grieved Will Ferrell’s character of Alex Trebek in “Celebrity Jeopardy”. He also imitated Bob Dole, Larry King, and David Letterman.
His impassive style and his skills as a writer made him the choice to host “Weekend Update”. Simpson was a favorite target. Macdonald opened the fake newscast the week the former football star was acquitted on murder charges, saying, “Well, it’s finally official. Murder is legal in the state of California.
“Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels, speaking on behalf of the show, called MacDonald “one of the most impactful comedic voices of his generation or any generation.”
“There is so much that we will miss about Norm – from his unwavering integrity and generosity to his constant ability to surprise,” he said. “But most of all, he was just funny. No one was funny like Norm.
Macdonald was fired mid-season in 1998 by NBC Entertainment director Don Ohlmeyer, a friend of Simpson’s who apparently disliked the “” SNL “star making Simpson the almost constant butt of jokes.
“I was never bitter,” Macdonald said in the “Live From New York” oral history published in 2002. “I always understood that Ohlmeyer could fire me because he was the guy who owned it. the cameras, so I didn’t mind me. I’ve always been happy that ‘SNL’ gives me a chance.
He said in the same book that “I just like to make jokes that I like, and if the audience doesn’t like them, they’re wrong, not me.”
Ohlmeyer said it was his problem.
“When ‘Saturday Night Live’ is really good, they care what the audience thinks,” he said. “And when ‘Saturday Night Live’ isn’t really good, they kind of do it for themselves and their friends.”
MacDonald appeared on Letterman’s show to announce that he had been fired. During a commercial break, Letterman asked him, “It’s like an Andy Kaufman thing with fake wrestling, isn’t it?” Macdonald recalls. But it was not.
Letterman was a fan who made Macdonald a guest on the CBS host’s latest series of “Late Show” shows.
In 2016, Letterman told the Washington Post that the show would have had Macdonald every week “if we could.”
“It’s funny in a way that some people inhale and exhale,” Letterman told The Post. “With others, you can say comedy, humor is taken into account. With Norm, he breathes it … There may be people as funny as Norm, but I don’t know anyone funnier. . “
The Post article was titled “Will Anyone Give Norm Macdonald Another Show?” “
As if to respond, Netflix two years later aired 10 episodes of an interview series, “Norm Macdonald Has a Show”.
He has had limited success in other television companies. He created and starred in the ABC sitcom “The Norm Show,” later shortened to “Norm,” playing a former NHL player kicked out of the league for gambling and tax evasion and forced into community service as a social worker .
A Comedy Central show, “Sports Show with Norm Macdonald,” only lasted a handful of episodes, but he got busy in comedy clubs.
“In my mind, I’m just a stand-up,” he told the New York Times in 2018. “But other people don’t think so. They think, ‘oh, the guy from’ SNL ‘is stand-up now’ “
In a 2011 comedy special, MacDonald said it was wrong to say that you “lost your battle” with cancer when you died. “I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die the cancer also dies at the exact same time,” he said. “For me, it’s not a loss. It’s a draw.
Jim Carrey tweeted that Macdonald was “an honest and courageous comedy genius”. Seth Rogen said he basically ripped off his delivery when he first started playing.
“No one could crack you like Norm Macdonald,” Jon Stewart said on Twitter. “Hilarious and unique. “