The Life of Norm Macdonald Retold

Connor Rogers, Writer, Editor

On September 14, 2021, the world lost Saturday Night Live comedian Norm Macdonald to his private struggle with cancer in Los Angeles, California. He will forever be remembered by his loved ones and fellow SNL cast members. He was 61.

Born October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, Canada, he was the middle child of two other brothers, Neil and Leslie Macdonald. He did most of his schooling in Quebec and Ottawa, where both of his parents, Ferne and Percy Macdonald, worked as teachers. At age 26, Norm Macdonald was performing stand-up in Canadian comedy clubs, becoming a regular at Yuk Yuk’s. Just a year later, following his appearance at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, he was announced by the Montreal Gazette as “one of the country’s hottest comics.” Afterwards, he wrote for the TV show Rosanne for a year before leaving to join the notorious TV show, Saturday Night Live.

During his 5 years on SNL, Macdonald play a wide variety of characters, most commonly impressions of other celebrities. One of his most famous impressions was Burt Reynolds as a contestant on Celebrity Jeopardy! Other celebrities he played include Larry King, David Letterman, and Bob Dole. During the twentieth season of the show, Macdonald became one of the anchors of the Weekend Update segment, on which he often made crude jokes about prison inmates and the German’s love of actor David Hasselhoff. In 1998, He was removed as anchor and replaced by Collin Quinn by president of NBC’s West Coast Division, Don Ohlmeyer. Norm Macdonald later stated that he believes the reason he was fired from SNL was due to jokes he made during and after the O.J. Simpson trial, however Ohlmeyer happened to be a friend of Simpson and took offense toward the jokes. Macdonald a year later came back to SNL to host stating the only reason he came back was because, “the show has gotten really bad,” since he left.

After his time on SNL, Macdonald co-wrote and starred in Dirty Work (1998) directed by Bob Saget and featuring Chris Farley in his last movie, which was dedicated to him upon release. Later that same year, he voiced Lucky the Dog in the Eddie Murphy starred adaptation of Dr. Dolittle and its two sequels. The year later, Macdonald starred in the sitcom The Norm Show (later renamed Norm) which ran on ABC for 3 seasons, and co-starred Laurie Metcalf, Artie Lange, and Ian Gomez. In 2000, he starred in Screwed alongside equally funny stand-up comedian Dave Chappelle, most know for doing his Chappelle Show on Comedy Central. Afterwards, Macdonald did hundreds of small roles in both films and voice acting, most notably Norm the Genie on the cartoon show Fairy Odd Parents.

Norm Macdonald made millions of people laugh through his dry-humor jokes and wacky personality. He was certainty one of my favorite comedians, and I hope he is at peace wherever he is. He was an incredibly kind, funny, bright individual that entertained many people and there certainly will not be anyone like him again.