By: Jesse Striewski
Few comedians in recent memory have been as sharp or quick-witted as Norm Macdonald; he had the ability to perfectly sum up everyday issues in creative ways that most of us may have overlooked, all while making us roll on the floor with laughter. And he possessed the demeanor of “just one of the guys” that made him all the more relatable in an older sibling kind of way. So when the sudden news of his passing after a long battle with cancer swept across airwaves this past Tuesday, September 14, many of us felt as though we had indeed lost that big brother we all loved.
Macdonald was born on October 17, 1959 in Quebec City, Canada, and rose to prominence as a stand up comedian in the mid-1980’s. His first television appearance was on Star Search in 1990, and soon after he found himself writing for the likes of such shows as Roseanne and The Dennis Miller Show, before eventually landing every comic’s dream job on Saturday Night Live in 1993.
His first film was a supporting role in the 1995 Adam Sandler vehicle Billy Madison, in which he played slacker friend Frank. But his first leading role came in the unforgettable form as Mitch Weaver in the Bob Saget-directed Dirty Work, which also starred Artie Lange, and the late Chris Farley (in his final role ever) among many others. Although widely panned at the time, it has since found its way into many hearts with a cult level status.
During his time on SNL, he became arguably one of the best Weekend Update anchors in the show’s storied history, before ultimately being ejected from the show in 1999. He then briefly had his own program on ABC, The Norm Show, which ran from 1999-2001. Other film parts include Screwed (2000), as well as providing the voice of Lucky in all five of the Dr. Dolittle films. He also had recurring roles on such popular shows as My Name is Earl, and The Middle, and would often guest on his friend Conan O’Brien’s show. Macdonald’s last appearances include lending his voice to the 2019 Netflix feature, Klaus, as well as guesting on the talk show Quarantined, in 2020.
As a teenager myself in the mid-90s, I was fully along for the ride of SNL-driven comedy films that flooded movie theaters at the time. I was there when Macdonald appeared in his previously mentioned first film Billy Madison, and being the pack rat that I am, still even have my original ticket stubs from went I went to see Dirty Work and Screwed on the big screen (see photo below). His films undoubtedly played a vital part of my own youth, and judging by the outpouring of love from fans and celebrities across every and any social media platform these past couple of days, he is not about to be forgotten anytime soon. Rest easy, Little Chubby.