Comedian Norm Macdonald died today after a nine year battle with cancer that he kept a secret from fans and friends.
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.
“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.”
Variety has some of his bio:
The comedian got his start in showbiz as a writer on “Roseanne” in 1992 after making rounds at comedy clubs in Canada. He joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” in 1993, and the next year, began his memorable stint as “Weekend Update” anchor until early 1998, when he was replaced by Colin Quinn. Macdonald was known for his dry humor, non-sequiturs and impressions of Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino and many more during his five-year run on the show.
Macdonald anchored “Weekend Update” during the O.J. Simpson trial, where he delivered one of his most memorable jokes at the top of the episode following Simpson’s acquittal: “Well, it is finally official: Murder is legal in the state of California.” After his removal from “Weekend Update,” Macdonald accused NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer of firing him over his controversial Simpson jokes, though Ohlmeyer cited poor ratings.
Lots of celebrities and comics are remembering and praising Norm’s talent today.
One of the funniest people #SNL ever produced is gone, but will never be forgotten. I've spent many an hour on YouTube over the years enjoying all the characters he gave us. In a word: HILARIOUS.🤣Thanks for a lifetime of laughs @normmacdonald. #RIP 💔 pic.twitter.com/pK9lK3Rz87
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) September 14, 2021
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 today.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) September 14, 2021
— Senator Bob Dole (@SenatorDole) September 14, 2021
Here’s a bit of Norm with Bob Dole:
A week after his defeat in the 1996 presidential election, Bob Dole meets the man who portrayed him on Saturday Night Live, Norm MacDonald pic.twitter.com/CGF5rG3W5Q
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) September 14, 2021
We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind. https://t.co/0sXoCLEtuG
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 14, 2021
Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 14, 2021
R.I.P. Norm Macdonald. I never got a chance to know him but he made me laugh so many times with his brilliant wit and delivery. Comedy lost a great one today.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) September 14, 2021
The thing about Norm, is sometimes his comedy was quite obtuse. But he never explained a joke. He delighted in the fact that sometimes only one or two people knew why it was funny. #NormMacdonald
— Jennifer Tilly (@JenniferTilly) September 14, 2021
Today the world lost a very, very funny man. We miss him already. R.I.P Norm Macdonald.
— Eugene Levy (@Realeugenelevy) September 14, 2021
No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. Fuck cancer.
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) September 14, 2021
This interview on Howard Stern about Norm’s relationship with David Letterman is pretty revealing.
In an era where every comedian with a political bent is hailed as brave Norm MacDonald was the real deal. Always stayed ahead of the audience, never took a laugh that wasn't completely on his terms. His cynicism was just a byproduct of his idealism – he cherished great comedy. RS pic.twitter.com/T4jkuim3yO
— Triumph® ᴛʜᴇ ɪɴsᴜʟᴛ ᴄᴏᴍɪᴄ ᴅᴏɢ™ Headquarters💩 (@TriumphICDHQ) September 14, 2021
I’ll wrap this up with a clip of Norm making Letterman laugh by telling a story about Bob Ueker and John Fogerty.
The great Norm Macdonald tells a funny story about Milwaukee #Brewers announcer Bob Uecker and John Fogerty on a classic episode of the Late Show with David Letterman! ~ RIP Norm… pic.twitter.com/XPMA4WjBmf
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) September 14, 2021
Update: Just saw this.
Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal. pic.twitter.com/2Pftw28uPc
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) September 14, 2021
Update: I probably won’t add any more but this is genuinely funny and I’d never seen it.
My favorite Norm Macdonald moment was when he read Conan O'Brien a "congratulations card" on his last night at The Tonight Show pic.twitter.com/txK09UmAcW
— Keith Edwards (@keithedwards) September 14, 2021