Norm MacDonald, the veteran comedian and star of Saturday Night Live, has died. He had privately battled cancer for nine years. He was 61.
When he passed away. “He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra shared with Deadline. “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.”
There are times when Bob has something on his mind—when he wears a hat!” the comedian proclaimed stone-faced at Comedy Central’s Roast of Bob Saget in 2008, as Saget, his target, chuckled with clear confusion and discomfort. As the room grew quiet, unmoved by the joke, Macdonald decided not to move past the clear dud, but instead to double down: “No thoughts at all—JUST A HAT!”
But it was exactly this type of delivery and commitment that made Macdonald, who died on Tuesday after a long, private battle with cancer, one of the most unique and irreplaceable voices in modern comedy. Macdonald thrived on the edge of convention and in moments of silence and discomfort; through his unique approach, he weaved the dumbest punchlines into comedic masterclasses. And while other comics turned their desire to provoke into an excuse to bully or punch down, Macdonald’s transgressions were usually more conceptual: he thumbed his nose at the art form of the joke itself.
The world of comedy is in mourning following the death of Norm Macdonald. The former “Saturday Night Live” cast member died Tuesday at the age of 61.
Comedians remembered Macdonald as “uncompromisingly funny” and as “one of the all time greats.”
“Every one of us loved Norm,” fellow SNL castmate Adam Sandler tweeted. “Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend.”
For some people in Iowa, Macdonald might be remembered differently.
In 1997, the comedian performed at a fundraiser for the University of Iowa athletic department at Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City with fellow SNL alums Jim Breuer and Darrell Hammond.
Macdonald’s performance was not well received by the crowd, which was filled with families. In fact, scores of people walked out in the middle of his performance. Reaction was so negative that then-University of Iowa Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby issued an apology the day after.
“To call it off-color would be a rather significant understatement,” Bowlsby said at the time.
To call it off-color would be a rather significant understatement,” said Bowlsby.
Bowlsby said his four children were in the audience along with other children, and he and many parents hustled their kids out of the auditorium.
Macdonald, best known as the Weekend Update anchorman on “Saturday Night Live,” was the last of three cast members from the show to perform during an athletic department fundraiser.
Bowlsby said Jim Breuer and Darrell Hammond “were big hits with the audience and everybody was having a great time.”
“Then Norm Macdonald came on, and from the Norm Macdonald beginning to end, it was just one profanity after another,” said Bowlsby.
Macdonald was originally scheduled to participate in a related fundraising golf event Monday, but his invitation was withdrawn.
“Saturday Night Live” is broadcast by NBC, and a network spokesman did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Bowlsby said the athletic department made it clear to booking agents that it wanted “G-rated” comedy.
“We obviously didn’t get what we thought we were getting,” said Bowlsby. “It looked to me as if Norm Macdonald was unprepared, conducted himself unprofessionally, got mad when people started walking out and decided he was going to say whatever he felt like.