Norm Macdonald, a former “Saturday Night Live” actor and stand-up comedian who won a cult following with his straightforward delivery and ironic wit, died Tuesday.
He was 61 years old. Macdonald’s manager Marc Gurvitz has confirmed his death to NBC News.
Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade, but felt determined to keep his health concerns private, according to Lori Jo Hoekstra, production partner and longtime friend of Macdonald’s.
“He was most proud of his comedy. He never wanted the diagnosis to affect how the public or anyone close to him viewed him, “Hoekstra said in a statement.” Norm was pure comic. He once wrote that “a joke should surprise someone, it should never flatter”. He certainly never flattered. Norm will be sadly missed. “
The deadline was the first to report the news.
Macdonald, a native of Canada who said he was inspired by low-key comics such as Bob Hope and Bob Newhart, began his career with standing concerts across Ottawa and Montreal. He got his first big breakthrough in the early 1990s when he was hired on the editorial staff of the popular ABC sitcom “Roseanne.”
But his most publicized chapter began in 1993 when he joined the cast of “SNL,” appearing on the NBC sketch series for five seasons.
He played impersonations of late-night host David Letterman, talk show host Larry King, actor Burt Reynolds, director Quentin Tarantino and Republican politician Bob Dole.
But he was best known as the influential presenter of the parody “Weekend Update” news segment, where he regularly spits “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff and pokes fun at OJ Simpson in his signature funny style.
He left “SNL” in 1998. Macdonald has long claimed that he believed he was fired by NBC director Don Ohlmeyer because of his constant name-calling on “Update” about Simpson, who is said to be a personal friend of Ohlmeyer. .
Ohlmeyer, for his part, reportedly denied that this was the reason Macdonald left the show.
Macdonald went on to star in “Dirty Work” (1998), a motion picture comedy about two friends who start a revenge-for-pay business.
He appeared in a handful of comedy films in the late 1990s and 2000s, including “Billy Madison” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt”. He also provided the voice of a dog named Lucky in the Eddie Murphy version of “Dr. Dolittle” and its sequels.
He directed the cast of the short-lived ABC sitcom “The Norm Show” (later abbreviated as “Norm”), which aired from 1999 to 2001. The cast included Laurie Metcalf, Ian Gomez, Max Wright, Artie Lange and Faith Ford.
In recent years, Macdonald has continued to perform stand-up comedies and reached out to fans with sardonic appearances on late-night talk shows (most famous “Conan” on TBS) and TV celebrity roasts. on Comedy Central.
In 2018, Macdonald hosted a 10-episode interview show on Netflix (“Norm Macdonald Has a Show”) where his guests included David Spade, Jane Fonda and “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels.
Macdonald also drew criticism when his Netflix show debuted after The Hollywood Reporter published an interview in which he appeared to deride the #MeToo movement and defend his fellow artists Roseanne Barr and Louis CK
Macdonald later expressed his regret for his remarks, Tweeter that he “would never stand up for” CK or Barr and added that he was “deeply sorry” if he “appeared to downplay the pain their victims are feeling to this day.”
Following the news of Macdonald’s death on Tuesday, many comedy luminaries have expressed disbelief.
Steve martin tweeted that he was “one of a kind”.
“Oh my God, what’s even going on”, Patton Oswalt wrote. “Bye, Norm. You were never 100% hilarious.”
Whitney cummings describe Macdonald as “the pinnacle of bravery and originality”.
Seth Rogen also paid tribute to Macdonald, Tweeter that he “basically ripped off his performance when I started performing. I would stay awake specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest ever. We lost a giant in the comedy today. One of the greatest of all time. RIP. “
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