Norm Macdonald, known for his stand-up comedy and beloved Saturday Night Live performances, died today after fighting cancer for nine years, via Deadline. Macdonald was 61. His death was announced by his management firm Brillstein Entertainment. According to Lori Jo Hoekstra, one of Macdonald’s longtime friends and producing partners, Macdonald had kept his illness away from the spotlight for nearly a decade.
“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,” said Hoekstra.
Macdonald was born on October 17, 1959, in Quebec City, Canada. He emerged to the comedy scene in Ottawa comedy clubs and developed his unique deadpan style. It would later become his most iconic comedic style and influenced generations of comedians. His career took off when he joined Star Search as a contestant. He then landed his first writing job on The Dennis Miller Show. He was also hired to write for television sitcom Roseanne for the 1992-1993 season before he joined SNL.
Macdonald’s breakthrough came in 1993 when he joined NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He became one of the most influential and popular SNL cast member throughout the years. He served as a cast member from 1993 to 1998, before his controversial departure from the show. His most known segment was “Weekend Update” where he covered topics such as the O.J. Simpson trial, Micheal Jackson’s divorce, Bill Clinton’s scandal, and many more. During the Simpson trial, he refused to compromise to the pressure given by the NBC executives and continued to call Simpson a murderer. During his years at SNL, he roasted celebrities such as Andy Rooney, Clint Eastwood, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino, Mr. Bean, and Rod Serling, and more. He told TV Guide in 1997 that he “would love to stay at ‘SNL’ forever — but you can’t stay in the same place. People would think you’re a loser.” In 1998, he left the series and his role was replaced by Colin Quinn.
The New York Comedy Festival is paying tribute to beloved comedian Norm Macdonald following his passing today at the age of 61 after a nine-month private battle with cancer https://t.co/d4Cy1Irkrw
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) September 14, 2021
After departing SNL, Macdonald worked on several sitcoms. His comedian series, Norm, which lasted from 1999 to 2001. On television, Macdonald played the recurring role, Rusty Heck, in ABC’s The Middle from 2010 to 2018. In 2018, he landed a one-season talk show for Netflix named Norm Macdonald Has a Show. He appeared as a guest in several TV shows including Fairly NewsRadio, The Drew Carey Show, and The Larry Sanders Show. On the big silver screen, he also joined a few projects including Grown Ups, Funny People, Screwed, Dr. Dolittle, The Ridiculous Six, Jack and Jill, The Animal, and The People vs. Larry Flynt and Billy Madison.
Macdonald was scheduled to be in the New York Comedy Festival lineup in November. Many of his friends and people in the entertainment industry expressed their sadness via social media.
I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) September 14, 2021
RIP Norm Macdonald. pic.twitter.com/6aMAAynJ00
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 14, 2021