Norm Macdonald dies after a private battle with cancer
Norm Macdonald, whose laconic delivery of sharp and incisive observations made him one of Saturday Night Live‘s most influential and beloved cast members, died last week after a nine-year private battle with cancer. He was 61.
Born on October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, Macdonald started his show business career in the comedy clubs of Canada, developing the deadpan style that would become both his trademark and a highly influential touchstone for a generation of comics.
Macdonald began his career in 1992 as a writer on the television show “Rosanne”. Norm became a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” the next year and is best known for his work as an anchor for the show’s Weekend Update sketch, a spot he held for four years before passing the torch to comedian Colin Quinn. Among Norm’s most popular SNL bits was a gum-chomping impression of Burt Reynolds, complete with charming smile, bolo tie and wiseguy attitude, often at hilarious odds with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek. Norm was an SNL cast member from 1993-98.
The comedian’s longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with him when he died, said Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade but was determined to keep his health struggles private, away from family, friends and fans.
Friends and fellow comedians mourned Macdonald on social media. Conan O’Brien tweeted, “I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered, and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us.”
Macdonald appeared in numerous films and TV shows, including “The Norm Show,” “Billy Madison” and a notable appearance on “The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget.” In addition to his standup comedy and live-action work, Macdonald was also a successful voice actor, giving voice to the dog Lucky in several “Dr. Doolittle” films and Death in multiple episodes of “Family Guy.” Some of his more recent roles included Yaphit, a gelatinous engineer on Fox’s “The Orville,” and as an alcoholic pigeon on the animated Comedy Central series “Mike Tyson Mysteries.”
Norm earned a CableACE Award nomination as part of the writing team for the 1992 variety special Free to Laugh: A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International.
Comedy Central named Norm to its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.
His comedy even extended to TV commercials including the 2016 series of spots for KFC as Colonel Sanders, polarizing viewers with the absurdist ads. He also hosted the podcast Norm Macdonald Live, also on YouTube.
In his 2016 memoir Based on A True Story, Macdonald reflected on his continued love for stand-up comedy, and how fortunate he felt for an ongoing career.
Rest in Peace Norm…