I was out running a quick errand when I got word of Norm MacDonald's tragic and untimely death. And without looking, I knew someone (Pat) would post it first. But this is one of those events where I wouldn't care if everyone who's ever been involved with this company wrote about it, I'd still have to express my thoughts on this.
Simply put, Norm was one of the truly great, unique and inventive comedic minds of our lifetimes. Utterly fearless. Unconcerned with whether or not he made people uncomfortable, who he offended, or who was simply confused by his humor and didn't think he was funny. Which takes a form of courage that is hard to understand unless you know how godawful it can feel to put yourself in front of a room of strangers and have them not be into you. On the very rare occasions one of his jokes didn't land, he managed to make it feel genuinely like the joke was on us, because he did exactly what he'd set out to do.
If you're a comic, you never tried to pattern yourself after him, because it would be impossible. He was too much in a class and style all by himself. It would be like a businessman saying he was trying to be the next Elon Musk or a quarterback trying to play like Patrick Mahomes. A Swiss patent clerk wanting to do physics like Einstein. There was only one with his brain wired like Norm MacDonald, and it was Norm MacDonald.
I'm not exaggerating when I say a week hasn't gone by in the past few years when a reference to him didn't come up in a text chain I'm on. Or that I didn't fall down a rabbit hole of his bits. "Norm MacDonald on ..." is in the algorithm of my YouTube searches and permanently on my home screen. And never disappoints.
Whether it's the moth joke from Conan:
One of the classic stories he and Artie Lange would tell about Bob Uecker:
His own choice for the most bad taste joke he ever told:
The time he gave full body cringes to the entire theater hosting the ESPYs:
The entire catalogue of his stint as the GOAT of SNL Weekend Update anchors:
Or this one, I've posted before because it's my personal favorite. The time he didn't want to roast Bob Saget because he loved Saget and hates roasts. So he simply read the corniest lines ever written out of a 1930s jokes his dad once gave him. And never, ever broke character or let the audience in on what he was doing. (Audio only):
I'll leave it at that. There's more to say, but if I don't limit myself I'll be posting this some time after his memorial service. Just know that today, this mortal vale of tears we all pass through is a much, much less funny place than it was a few hours ago. RIP.