Norm Macdonald Biography & Facts
Norman Gene Macdonald (October 17, 1959 – September 14, 2021) was a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, known for his deadpan style, subversive joke-telling, and poetic turns of phrase. Throughout his career, he appeared in numerous films and was a regular favorite comedian panelist of talk show hosts, with many considering him to be the ultimate late night comedy guest.Early in his career, Macdonald's first work in television included writing for such comedies as Roseanne and The Dennis Miller Show. In 1993, Macdonald was hired as a writer and cast member on Saturday Night Live (SNL), spending a total of five seasons on the series, which included anchoring the show's Weekend Update segment for three and a half seasons, during which time he also made guest appearances on shows such as The Drew Carey Show and NewsRadio. After being fired from SNL, he wrote and starred in Dirty Work and headlined his own sitcom The Norm Show from 1999 to 2001.
In 2013, Macdonald started the video podcast chat show Norm Macdonald Live, on which he interviewed comedians and other celebrities. In 2016, he authored Based on a True Story, a novel that presented a heavily fictionalized account of his life. In 2018, he released Norm Macdonald Has a Show, a Netflix talk show with a similar premise to his podcast. Macdonald was also a voice actor, best known for providing voice roles in Mike Tyson Mysteries, The Orville, and the Dr. Dolittle films.
Macdonald was born Norman Gene Macdonald on October 17, 1959 and raised in Quebec City. His parents, Ferne (née Mains) and Percy Lloyd Macdonald (1916–1990), were both teachers. They worked at CFB Valcartier, a military base north of Quebec City. Macdonald's father died in 1990 of heart disease.He has an older brother Neil Macdonald, who is a journalist with CBC News (and is married to Joyce Napier, a journalist with CTV News) and a younger brother named Leslie. He attended Quebec High School and later Gloucester High School in Ottawa.
Macdonald's first performances in comedy were at stand-up clubs in Ottawa, regularly appearing on amateur nights at Yuk Yuk's in 1985. Following an appearance at the 1986 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, he was heralded by the Montreal Gazette as, "[o]ne of this country's hottest comics." By 1990, he would perform as a contestant on Star Search. He was hired as a writer for the Roseanne television sitcom for the 1992–93 season before quitting to join Saturday Night Live.
1993–1998: Saturday Night Live
Macdonald joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL) television program in 1993, where he performed impressions of Larry King, Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Quentin Tarantino, Charles Kuralt, and Bob Dole, among others. The following year during the show's twentieth season, Macdonald anchored the segment Weekend Update. His version of Weekend Update often included references to prison rape, crack whores, and the Germans' love of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. He would occasionally deliver a piece of news, then take out his personal compact tape recorder and leave a "note to self" relevant to what he just discussed. He commonly used Frank Stallone as a non-sequitur punchline.After the announcement that Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley planned to divorce, Macdonald joked about their irreconcilable differences on Weekend Update. "According to friends, the two were never a good match. She's more of a stay-at-home type, and he's more of a homosexual pedophile." He followed this up a few episodes later with a report about the singer's collapse and hospitalization. Referring to a report of how Jackson had decorated his hospital room with giant photographs of Shirley Temple, Macdonald stated, "In case viewers are confused, we'd like to remind you that Michael Jackson is in fact a homosexual pedophile."
In early 1998, Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC's West Coast division, had Macdonald removed as Weekend Update anchor, citing a decline in ratings and a drop-off in quality. He was replaced by Colin Quinn at the Weekend Update desk beginning on the January 10, 1998 episode.Macdonald believed at the time that the true reason for his dismissal was his series of O. J. Simpson jokes during and after the trial, frequently calling him a murderer; Ohlmeyer was a good friend of Simpson and supported him during the proceedings. After being removed from the role, Macdonald went on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman and Howard Stern's syndicated radio show; in both appearances, he accused Ohlmeyer of firing him for making jokes about Simpson. The jokes were written primarily by Macdonald and longtime SNL writer Jim Downey, who was fired from SNL at the same time. Downey pointed out in an interview that Ohlmeyer threw a party for the jurors who acquitted Simpson.Ohlmeyer claimed that Macdonald was mistaken, pointing out he had not censored Jay Leno's many jokes about Simpson on The Tonight Show. Ohlmeyer stated he was concerned that ratings research showed people turning away from the program during Macdonald's segment; likewise, network insiders told the New York Daily News that Ohlmeyer and other executives had tried several times to get Macdonald to try a different approach on Update.Macdonald remained on SNL as a cast member, but disliked performing in regular sketches. On February 28, 1998, in one of his last appearances on SNL, he played the host of a fictitious TV series titled Who's More Grizzled? who asked questions from "mountain men," played by that night's host Garth Brooks and special guest Robert Duvall. In the sketch, Brooks' character says to Macdonald's character, "I don't much care for you," to which Macdonald replies, "A lot of people don't." He was dismissed shortly thereafter.Matters intensified when Ohlmeyer prevented NBC from airing advertisements from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Macdonald's then-new film Dirty Work out of retaliation for what he saw as disparaging SNL and NBC with Letterman and Stern. Robert Wright, Ohlmeyer's boss, later overturned the decision not to show ads for the movie on NBC, but did leave in place the ban on playing it during SNL. Macdonald continued to insist that he did not personally dislike Ohlmeyer but that Ohlmeyer hated him.Macdonald complained about NBC's advertising removal for his film to the New York Daily News, calling Ohlmeyer a "liar and a thug." He said he never badmouthed SNL or Michaels, whom he said always supported him. Macdonald pointed out that he had only taken issue with Ohlmeyer, whereas the people taking shots at NBC and SNL were Letterman, who wanted Macdonald to come to CBS, and Stern, who wanted him to join his show opposite SNL. Macdonald also asserted that Ohlmeyer's influence had made his promotional appearances for his film be cancelled on WNBC's Today in New York, NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and the syndicated Access Hollywood (a joint venture between 20th Century Television.... Discover the Norm Macdonald popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Norm Macdonald books.