Norm Macdonald, the comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member, has died at the age of 61, Deadline and Variety report. According to Deadline, Macdonald was privately living with cancer for nine years before he died this morning. Macdonald’s producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra told Deadline, “He was most proud of his comedy. 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.”
Norm Macdonald was born and raised in Quebec City, Quebec. By his early twenties, he was living in Ottawa, Ontario, where he often performed standup comedy. In 1992, he started writing for ABC’s Roseanne but left by 1993 to become a cast member on Saturday Night Live. One of Macdonald’s most famous recurring sketches at SNL was “Celebrity Jeopardy!,” where he portrayed Burt Reynolds. During his time at SNL, Macdonald also anchored the “Weekend Update” segment, and current “Weekend Update” anchor Colin Jost has cited Macdonald as an influence.
After Saturday Night Live, Macdonald co-created and starred in the ABC sitcom The Norm Show, which aired for three seasons. Throughout his career, Macdonald featured in Billy Madison, Deuce Bigalow, The Drew Carey Show, Family Guy, The Fairly OddParents, and more. He also hosted the Norm Macdonald Live podcast and, in 2016, released the book Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir. Macdonald’s final standup special, Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery, premiered on Netflix in 2017.
In 2018, Macdonald made controversial remarks about the #MeToo movement to The Hollywood Reporter. He had an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon canceled as a result of his comments, and he later tweeted an apology.
Norm Macdonald was known for his dry humor and long jokes. Particularly later in his career, Macdonald’s jokes resembled stories with strange or unrelated punchlines. “I always told everybody the perfect joke would be where the setup and punch line were identical,” he remarked The New York Times in 2011.
“I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting,” Seth Rogen tweeted after learning of Macdonald’s death. “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.”
“Norm was in a comedy genre of his own,” Sarah Silverman wrote. “No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time.”