'Comedy Genius': Influential Comedian, 'Saturday Night Live' Alum Norm Macdonald Dead at 61
Comedian Norm Macdonald died from a nine-year-long battle with cancer on Tuesday at the age of 61. He is best known for his work in the 1990s as a performer on the long-running late-night variety show 'Saturday Night Live.'
Macdonald’s death was announced to the Hollywood news site Deadline
by his management firm Brillstein Entertainment, and the actor had kept his cancer diagnosis very private. It included a statement from Macdonald’s longtime producing partner and friend, Lori Jo Hoekstra.
“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,” Hoekstra stated.
Macdonald honed what would become his legendary deadpan performance style in standup comedy shows throughout his native province of Quebec, Canada. Macdonald’s early talents got him several television writing positions before he landed “Saturday Night Live,” where he both wrote and performed from 1993 until 1999.
He rose to prominence as the anchor of the show’s “Weekend Update” satirical news segment from 1994 to 1998, where he earned praise for his comedic coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial, among other noteworthy news events.
He was also known for his impressions of former Republican candidate Bob Dole during the 1996 US presidential election, and actor Burt Reynolds, whom he played on the “Celebrity Jeopardy!” sketches opposite Will Ferrell as the late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.
After leaving the lauded comedy program, he starred on the eponymous sitcom “The Norm Show,” which lasted for three seasons from 1999 until 2001. He had also hosted the popular “Norm Macdonald Live” podcast, which ran from 2013 to 2017, and a subsequent series for Netflix called “Norm Macdonald Has a Show,” which ran for 10 episodes in 2018. He continued to perform stand-up throughout, and was even scheduled for a show at the upcoming New York Comedy Festival in November.
He also had memorable roles in such films as “Billy Madison” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” He served as a voiceover role in the animated movie “Klaus, the “Dr. Dolittle” series, and as Death on the long-running animated TV series “Family Guy.”
The official Twitter account of “Saturday Night Live” tweeted “Today is a sad day. All of us here at SNL mourn the loss of Norm Macdonald, one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation.”
Fellow comedians and comedy actors, such as Patton Oswalt, Jim Carrey and Seth Rogen, also paid tribute to the legendary comedian on Twitter.
Even Macdonald’s old target of impersonation, Bob Dole, tweeted a tribute to the late performer.
Macdonald leaves behind a son, Dylan, born in 1993 to him and his ex-wife, Connie Vaillancourt.