R.I.P. Norm MacDonald, SNL Weekend Update anchor whose deadpan style influenced a generation of comedians

He was a favorite late-night guest and played a washed-up hockey player in his own sitcom 'Norm.'

The Everett Collection

If there was one thing Norm MacDonald was never afraid of, it was staying quiet. No one was safe from his jabs as an anchor on Saturday Night Live’s mock-news segment Weekend Update, even if it drew the ire of NBC executives. But MacDonald always wanted his comedy to be the focus, so he kept his cancer diagnosis private. After a nine-year battle, MacDonald passed away this week at the age of 61.

MacDonald was born in Quebec City, Canada, in 1959. He started performing comedy in his native city and eventually won a slot as a contestant on Star Search in 1990.

MacDonald’s first real gig in television would prove prophetic: he joined the writers’ room of The Dennis Miller Show in 1992, a comedy show with a political bent. Miller was just coming of his own long run as Weekend Update anchor. After his time on the short-lived talk show, MacDonald became a writer on the sitcom Roseanne before joining Saturday Night Live in 1993.

MacDonald’s time behind the Weekend Update desk skyrocketed him to fame. His deadpan, sarcastic musings on the news of the day became a staple of the show in the mid-Nineties. His impression of Burt Reynolds sporting a leather jacket and bolo tie in sketches like “Celebrity Jeopardy!” is still one of the best remembered impressions from that era of SNL.

MacDonald could often be seen on late-night TV during the week as well — he was a favorite guest of Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. Their offbeat styles and sarcasm worked well together. His many late-night appearances continued throughout his career.

After his success on Saturday Night Live, MacDonald got his own sitcom, Norm (originally called The Norm Show). It followed a former hockey player who was banned from the league for gambling and tax evasion. To avoid prison, Norm must do five years of community service as a social worker — a job that goes about as well as you might think. The show lasted three seasons from 1999-2001.

MacDonald recently collaborated with his former SNL costar Adam Sandler in movies like Grown Ups and had a recurring role as Rusty Heck on the Patricia Heaton sitcom The Middle. MacDonald also hosted the talk show Norm MacDonald Has a Show for Netflix.

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JERRY6 25 months ago
guy was a riot , i worked sound ad lights for a few early shows in montreal clubs was laughing so hard it was hard to my job . RIP
Jack 31 months ago
GOD Rest the Soul of Norm MacDonald, ... Amen - Alleluia!
saswifteagle 33 months ago
Norm was good. Love him in the syfy show The Orville. RIP
Runeshaper 33 months ago
R.I.P. Norm MacDonald. He was hilarious as Burt Reynolds and will be missed. I have to check out his show "Norm" one of these days.
BorisK 33 months ago
This is so confusing ... I liked Norm MacDonald's stuff now and then, and all the media are now eulogizing him with tears, yet barely 3 years ago he was nearly burned at the stake by the press over his rational opinions about #metoo (which oddly enough everyone now seems to agree with). Which is it, media? Is he an outcast or a Saint? How perplexing.
UTZAAKE 33 months ago
"Deadpan" is a word best use to describe Buster Keaton, Steven Wright and Perry Mattfeld in The CW's In the Dark, but not Norm MacDonald. No one will ever say "Scram, you damn freak" as perfectly as he did, either.
jimmyvici 33 months ago
Loved his Burt Reynolds character from the Jeopardy SNL skits. Fantastic. He will definitely be missed. Rip Turd Ferguson.
Big3Fan 33 months ago
His moth joke is classic. Rest in peace, Mr. MacDonald.
kevomatic 33 months ago
I didn’t even know he was sick.
kevomatic 33 months ago
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kevomatic stephaniestavr5 33 months ago
It's a punchline from one of his jokes:
AnnieM 33 months ago
I too loved his Burt Reynolds. I also got a kick out of how during 'Weekend Update' he frequently found a way to work in the phrase, "Germans love David Hasselhoff." He will be very much missed.
Pacificsun AnnieM 33 months ago
Yeah, but it also was his expression that went with the phrase. You'd have to see it to understand. Like Chris Farley doing his "down by the river" sketch. The words didn't make sense until he turned it into hilarious desperation!
AnnieM Pacificsun 33 months ago
Very true!
KellyTenace 33 months ago
Norm was a class, that's for sure.
KellyTenace KellyTenace 30 months ago
* Norm was a class act, that's for sure.
mackjaz 33 months ago
"If there was one thing Norm MacDonald was never afraid of, it was staying quiet."

What the heck does that mean? That he kept his mouth shut? That seems to be exactly the opposite of what he was. "Norm" -ally, I wouldn't nitpick, but it's the first sentence of the story.
LoveMETV22 mackjaz 33 months ago
Just a play on words, or pun in the first sentence. Lol on your ."Norm" -ally pun, also a play on words.
Pacificsun mackjaz 33 months ago
If they wanted to take that point of view a better opening would've been:

"One thing about Norm MacDonald is that he let his work speak for itself."

Those of us (in the era) who knew his work, characters on SNL and more, understood he had a unique comedic personality and approach. And times weren't as radicalized as they are now. The writers probably haven't had a chance to enjoy him in the moment, when SNL's material was fresh for every week. The Game Shows, the parody on long standing hosts. It was and easy, fun Show to watch. That's all that was necessary!
texasluva Pacificsun 33 months ago
Weekend Movie Bonanza coming your way.

Have you ever looked in your purse or pocket for a few more dollars? Look no further. You have more-For a Few Dollars more. Yep. Just check this weekend and you'll find it.

Weekend movie 2. We are going for fun and here is where you find it-Tin Men-Danny Divito and Richard Dreyfuss.
Pacificsun texasluva 33 months ago
Man, you shouldn't owned a movie theater and run these golden gem movies all day long, and free on the weekends! Am I right??

You've found your calling!
texasluva Pacificsun 33 months ago
I am from the Warner Brothers Family Tree. They came over from Poland. Don't say it. Remember the Pope was Polish too . Now if you believe all that I have some swamp land to sell you (You'll make a big profit) . My calling hmmmm. I've had lots of callings. Maybe this is my last hurrah, huh . Ole Mr Hubbard went to his cupboard and it wasn't bare. It was full of 1000 movies and music vids . Now he has enough to even share with MeTV posters. Even ones missing from time to time. Oh where oh were has that little Pacificsun gone oh where oh where can she be . Oh that's right. Another project of non-biblical proportions . I should start charging .
texasluva Pacificsun 33 months ago
!!Wanted!! but preferred Alive
Those that wish to participate in the Weekly Movie Quiz.
Conversation as to what this movie might be
Winners name in MeTV Lights
Just plain ole fun
Let's Do it at: Can you match these cartoon homes to the right Looney Tunes characters?
Friday @ 10:00 P.M CT
The Show Must Go On-Another knock down quizorama and entertainment.
One of our Bonus Movies will be- JAWS------
daDoctah 33 months ago
After playing Burt Reynolds in those SNL Celebrity Jeopardy sketches, Norm was picked to play "Little Chubby", the son of Burt's character Chubby on "My Name Is Earl".

Season three of "The Orville" is going to be even more disappointing than it's already shaping up to be now that we know Yaphit won't be there to ooze through the odd scene or two.
cperrynaples daDoctah 33 months ago
Yep, and I'll miss his Pidgeon on The Mike Tyson Mysteries!
MichaelSkaggs cperrynaples 33 months ago
Can anyone explain to me how Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist, got a cartoon series?
Pacificsun 33 months ago
He helped make SNL what it was. Not what it's like today.
KJExpress 33 months ago
Too many obits lately. 😔
nd1irish KJExpress 33 months ago
Do you know who may be next? You guessed it. Frank Stallone.
Pacificsun nd1irish 33 months ago
nd1irish Pacificsun 33 months ago
I guessing you missed the joke. Go to YouTube and watch Norm’s jokes regarding Frank Stallone.
MrsPhilHarris 33 months ago
Loved his Burt Reynolds on Jeopardy!
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 33 months ago
Oh that was the best ever!
David MrsPhilHarris 33 months ago
Turd Ferguson will never die!
Peter_Falk_Fan 33 months ago
I thought he was great as Rusty Heck on "The Middle". R.I.P. Norm MacDonald. Thanks for the laughs.
denny 33 months ago
Well this is sad, only 61. RIP Norm.
David denny 33 months ago
RIP Norm, I'm glad he didn't go the way John Belushi and Chris Farley did, or Phil Hartman.
Pacificsun David 33 months ago
There's no "good" way to go.
Pacificsun David 33 months ago

He was too talented not for the record to be set straight.
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