Norm Macdonald (comedian): Wikis


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Norm MacDonald

Norm MacDonald, September 2009
Born Norman Gene MacDonald
October 17, 1963 (1963-10-17) (age 46)
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
Occupation Actor/Comedian
Years active 1991 – present

Norman Gene "Norm" MacDonald (born October 17, 1963) is a Canadian comedian, actor and professional poker player. He is known for his three years anchoring Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.

He performs as a stand up comedian in comedy clubs across Canada, the United States, and Australia. In Los Angeles, he wrote for the popular sitcom Roseanne and performed on shows including The Drew Carey Show and NewsRadio. He also produced and co-created The Norm Show which ran from March 1999-April 2001. Comedy Central named him #83 on the five part miniseries 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.


Early life

In the early 1970s, MacDonald attended grade school where his parents taught at Alexander Wolff School, on Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, outside Quebec City. MacDonald has said that he was a student in his father's class, and that he had to call him "Mr. MacDonald" while in class. His father was his homeroom teacher for two years (grades 6 and 7). After completing 7th grade, MacDonald attended Quebec High School in Quebec City. Canadian journalist Neil MacDonald is his brother. Norm was a great painter in high school earning many awards including Junior Canadian of the year.

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, Charles Kuralt, and Bob Dole, among others. Following Kevin Nealon's departure from SNL, MacDonald anchored the segment Weekend Update. Chevy Chase, the first anchor of Weekend Update, has opined that MacDonald is the only anchor since his own tenure to have "done it right".[1]

MacDonald used a deadpan style during the news segment, which included repeated references to prison rape, crack whores and the Germans' love of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. MacDonald 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 also commonly and inexplicably used Frank Stallone as a non sequitur punchline. MacDonald repeatedly ridiculed public figures such as Michael Jackson and O. J. Simpson. Throughout Simpson's trial for murder, MacDonald constantly pilloried the former football star, often heavily implying Simpson was guilty of the brutal slaying of his wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. In the broadcast following Simpson's acquittal, MacDonald opened Weekend Update by saying: "Well, it's official: murder is legal in the state of California."

After the announcement that Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley planned to divorce, MacDonald joked about their irreconcilable differences on Weekend Update: "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 recent collapse and hospitalization. Referring to a report of how Jackson had decorated his hospital room with giant photographs of Shirley Temple, MacDonald remarked that viewers should not get the wrong idea, adding, "We'd like to remind you that Michael Jackson is, in fact, a homosexual pedophile." The joke elicited audible gasps from some audience members. He responded to this by saying, "What? He is a homosexual pedophile."[2]

MacDonald's time with Saturday Night Live effectively ended in late 1997, when he was fired from the Weekend Update segment upon the insistence of NBC West Coast Executive Don Ohlmeyer, who pressured the producers to remove him, explaining that MacDonald was "not funny." Some believe that Don Ohlmeyer's friendship with O.J. Simpson — a celebrity whom MacDonald often antagonized on the show — may have fueled Ohlmeyer's decision.[1]

On February 28, 1998, one of his last appearances on SNL occurred as host of a fictitious TV show called Who's More Grizzled?, who asked questions of "mountain men" played by that night's host Garth Brooks and special guest Robert Duvall. In the sketch, Brooks' character said to MacDonald's character, "I don't much care for you," to which MacDonald replied, "A lot of people don't."

In a Late Show with David Letterman interview, MacDonald said that after being fired, he could not "do anything else on any competing show."[3]

Norm went on the Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch on the 34th season finale of SNL when Will Ferrell hosted. MacDonald reprised his impression of Burt Reynolds, as he did when he was a regular cast member.

Recurring characters on SNL

  • Stan Hooper, a cynical man who exploits other people. (The short-lived FOX sitcom A Minute With Stan Hooper featured a version of this character).

Celebrity impersonations

After Saturday Night Live

Soon after leaving Saturday Night Live, MacDonald co-wrote and starred in the "revenge comedy" Dirty Work (1998), with Jack Warden, Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, Chris Farley, Artie Lange and Adam Sandler. Later that year, MacDonald voiced the character of Lucky the dog in the Eddie Murphy remake of Doctor Dolittle. He reprised the role in both Doctor Dolittle 2 (2001) and Doctor Dolittle 3 (2006). MacDonald voiced the character of Death on an episode of Family Guy. Due to a conflict with his stand-up comedy schedule, he was unavailable to voice the character for his next appearance; Death has since been played by Adam Carolla. In 1999, MacDonald starred in the sitcom The Norm Show (later renamed Norm), co-starring Laurie Metcalf, Artie Lange and Ian Gomez. It ran for three seasons on ABC. MacDonald voiced Hardee's restaurant's (Carl's Jr. on the US West Coast) costumed mascot, the Hardee's star in advertisements. MacDonald also appeared on several Miller Lite commercials that year. He appeared on the September 1999 Saturday Night Live primetime special celebrating the program's 25th year on the air. MacDonald was one of only three former Weekend Update anchors to introduce a retrospective on the segment (the others being Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller).

MacDonald returned to Saturday Night Live to host the October 23, 1999 show. In his opening monologue, he expressed resentment at having been fired, then concluded that the only reason he was asked to host was because "the show has gotten really bad" since he left.[7] His multiple utterances of "God damn" were edited out of future repeats of the episode. The next episode, airing November 6, 1999 and hosted by Dylan McDermott, featured a sketch where Chris Kattan, as the androgynous character Mango, is opening letters from celebrity admirers and, after opening the last one, says "[the letter is from] Norm MacDonald, who is that?" Also in 1999, MacDonald made a cameo appearance in the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. When Michael Richards refused to portray himself in the scene reenacting the famous Fridays incident where Kaufman throws water in his face, MacDonald stepped in to play Richards, although he is never referred to by name.

On MacDonald's first appearance on The Daily Show after Jon Stewart took over, he caused controversy when he said "I'm really glad to see you're hosting the show, man. I hated that other guy." In a previous interview MacDonald retorted: "I hate that . . . [expletive] 'Daily Show.' I know you critics love it, but it just seems like the most obvious type of comedy." After Jon Stewart got the job he explained his previous comments. "I was joking," he contended. "I love 'The Daily Show.' And I love Jon Stewart. But in print, you can't italicize irony, know what I mean? It's all just words. A guy could say right now: 'I hate David Letterman. I really hate him.' And you could print that. But don't print it."

In 2000, MacDonald starred in his second motion picture, Screwed, which, like Dirty Work, fared poorly at the box office.

On November 12, 2000; MacDonald appeared on the Celebrity Edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? winning $500,000.00 for Paul Newman's Charity Camp.

MacDonald continued to make appearances on television shows and in films, including Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, and The Animal, all of which starred fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Rob Schneider and were produced by Adam Sandler.

In 2005, MacDonald signed a deal with Comedy Central to create a new sketch comedy pilot called Back to Norm, which debuted that May. The pilot was never turned into a series. Its infamous cold opening parodied the suicide of Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania politician who, facing decades of incarceration, committed suicide on live television in 1987. Rob Schneider appeared in the pilot. Also in 2005, MacDonald performed as a voice actor, portraying a Genie named Norm, on two episodes of the cartoon series The Fairly Odd Parents. But he could not return for the third episode, "Fairy Idol", due to a scheduling conflict. In 2006, MacDonald again performed as a voice actor, this time in a series of commercials for Canadian cellphone services provider Bell Mobility, as the voice of "Frank the Beaver". The campaign had a commercial tie-in with the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and with the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The ads ran heavily on CBC during the Olympics and throughout the National Hockey League's postseason. Due to its success, the campaign was extended throughout 2006, 2007 and into 2008 to promote offerings from other Bell Canada divisions such as Bell Sympatico internet provider and Bell TV satellite service.[8] In August 2008, the new management at Bell decided that they would go in a different direction with advertising, and would no longer be using the beavers.

In September 2006, MacDonald's sketch comedy album, Ridiculous, was released by Comedy Central Records. It features appearances by Will Ferrell, Jon Lovitz, Tim Meadows, Molly Shannon and Artie Lange. On September 14, 2006, MacDonald appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote Ridiculous. During the appearance, MacDonald made some jokes about the recent death of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Stewart, holding back laughter, asked Norm to change the subject. MacDonald was a guest character on My Name Is Earl in the episode "Two Balls, Two Strikes" as "Lil Chubby", the son of "Chubby" (played by Burt Reynolds), similar to MacDonald's portrayals of Reynolds on SNL.

In the 2007 World Series of Poker, he came in 20th place out of 827 entrants in the $3,000 No Limit Texas Hold 'em event, winning $14,608.[9] He also made it to round two of the $5,000 World Championship of Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em. On the comedy website, Super Deluxe, he has created an animated series entitled "The Fake News".[10] Norm has filled in during Dennis Miller's weekly O'Reilly Factor "Miller Time" segment on January 2, 2008, and guest-hosted Dennis Miller's Radio show on January 3, 2008. Norm had also been a regular contributor on the Dennis Miller Radio show every Friday, prior to an unexplained absence that left Miller wondering on-air if the show had somehow miffed Norm. MacDonald returned after many months on May 30, 2008, but not before missing a scheduled appearance the day before. He hosted Miller's radio show for the second time on July 16, 2008, along with MacDonald's friend Stevie Ray Fromstein.

On June 19, 2008, Norm was a celebrity panelist on two episodes of a revived version of the popular game show Match Game, which was taped at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. The new version features the same set used in the early years of the 1970s version and also stars comedienne Sarah Silverman as a fellow celebrity panelist.[11] On August 17, 2008, Norm was a participant in the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget, performing intentionally cheesy and g-rated material that contrasted greatly with the raunchy performances of the other roasters. For Christmas 2007 and 2008, MacDonald provided the voice to a gingerbread boy wanting a prepaid mobile phone from his dad (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who keeps rebuilding his house because "people won't stop eating it".[12] The ad was for AT&T's GoPhone. Norm is working on a program for the FX network called "The Norm MacDonald Reality Show," in which he plays a fictional, down-on-his-luck version of himself.[13] On the May 16th episode of Saturday Night Live, MacDonald reappeared as Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy!. He also appeared in another skit later on playing the guitar. On May 31, he appeared on Million Dollar Password. He had become a frequent guest on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien during its 2009 and 2010 run.

MacDonald has revealed unusually intimate personal details of his life when appearing on talk shows, including 10 years of celibacy after a prior active sex life.[14]

Political humour

Despite referring to himself as apolitical, MacDonald has made controversial references to politically-charged issues, with mixed humorous results.

At the end of the Weekend Update segment before the 1996 presidential election, Norm urged viewers to vote for Bob Dole (of whom MacDonald frequently performed a comic impersonation), though hinting that he had solely said it so that he could continue impersonating him. In 2003, MacDonald appeared on Barbara Walters' program The View, publicly renouncing his Canadian citizenship as a joke over his home country's decision not to participate in the Iraq War, stated his belief that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president ever and said that he would be becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States (as of January 2006, he stated that he is not a United States citizen. "I just keep renewing my green card", said MacDonald in a telephone interview).[15] On the November 16, 2000 episode of The View MacDonald said that he thought George W. Bush was "a decent man" and he called Bill Clinton a "murderer" (regarding the Vince Foster case). MacDonald later stated in Maxim magazine that he is completely apolitical, and that he was joking when he said Clinton "killed a guy" (he further explained on the Adam Carolla Show that the comments were simply designed to anger Walters). However, on the January 2, 2008 episode of The O'Reilly Factor, MacDonald stated that he is "very pro-life, but against the death penalty;" his friend Artie Lange would soon afterwards confirm these opinions as sincere on The Howard Stern Show.


Year Title Role
1993 The Jackie Thomas Show (TV series) Jordan
1993 Saturday Night Live (TV series) Various
1995 Billy Madison Frank
1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt Network Reporter
1996 The Drew Carey Show (TV series) Simon Tate
1997 NewsRadio (TV series) Roger
1998 Dirty Work Mitch Weaver
1998 Dr. Dolittle Lucky (voice)
1999 Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo Bartender
1999 Man on the Moon Michael Richards in Fridays
1999 The Norm Show (TV series) Norm Henderson
2000 Family Guy (TV series) Death (voice) - episode "Death Is A Bitch"
2000 Screwed Willard Fillmore
2001 The Animal Mob Member
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Lucky (voice; uncredited)
2003 A Minute with Stan Hooper (TV series) Stan Hooper
2004 Oliver Beene (TV series) Hobo Bob
2005 Back to Norm (TV) Various
2005 Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Earl McManus
2005 The Fairly OddParents (TV series) Norm the Genie
2006 Farce of the Penguins Join Twosomes Penguin (voice)
2006 Dr. Dolittle 3 Lucky (voice/uncredited)
2007 Senior Skip Day Mr. Rigetti
2007 My Name Is Earl (TV series) Little Chubby
2008 The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget Himself
2008 Dr. Dolittle: Tail To The Chief Lucky (voice; uncredited)
2009 Funny People Cameo
2009 My Name Is Earl (TV series) Little Chubby
2009 The Norm MacDonald Reality Show (TV series) Self
2010 Grown Ups Geezer


  1. ^ a b Shales, Tom. Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live. Back Bay Books, 2003.
  2. ^ Wild, David (1997-11-27). "Looking for the heart of 'Saturday Night'". Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone). Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  3. ^ David Letterman. (March 6, 1998). Late Night with David Letterman. [TV series]. New York: CBS. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  4. ^ Particularly in a three-part pre-taped sketch where Bob Dole is a cast member on the MTV reality show, The Real World
  5. ^ Thanks to his ability to impersonate him, he also played Chubby Jr., the son of Burt Reynolds' character Chubby on My Name is Earl
  6. ^ On the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon during the sequence where Andy Kaufman is on the ABC sketch show Fridays and refuses to take part in a sketch featuring restaurant patrons smoking marijuana
  7. ^ Saturday Night Live (1999-10-23). "Norm MacDonald's Monologue". Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  8. ^ "Bell Recruits Two New Spokesbeavers". November 7, 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-21.  Announcement With links to two Quicktime videos.
  9. ^ "The 2007 World Series of Poker". Retrieved 2007-07-21. 
  10. ^ "Norm MacDonald Presents: The Fake News". Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  11. ^ "On Camera Audiences entry for Match Game; retrieved June 19, 2008.". 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Norm MacDonald Talks Stand-Up, Teases FX "Reality" Show Evan Rytlewski, Express Milwaukee, March 13, 2009. Retrieved 07-03-2010.
  14. ^ Norm MacDonald 2007. Dennis Miller Radio
  15. ^ Guy MacPherson (2006-01-17). "Phone Interview with Norm MacDonald". Retrieved 2007-02-02. 

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Kevin Nealon
Weekend Update
Succeeded by
Colin Quinn

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