Comedian Norm Macdonald dead at 61 from cancer (Update)

Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP

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.

Here’s a bit of Norm with Bob Dole:

This interview on Howard Stern about Norm’s relationship with David Letterman is pretty revealing.

I’ll wrap this up with a clip of Norm making Letterman laugh by telling a story about Bob Ueker and John Fogerty.

Update: Just saw this.

Update: I probably won’t add any more but this is genuinely funny and I’d never seen it.