A Tribute To Norm Macdonald

Norm Macdonald is a hysterically funny comedian whose talents often go unrecognized and unappreciated. From his unjust firing from SNL's Weekend Update to his first movie being a total bomb at the box office, Norm is the classic underdog. Fortunately, everyone loves the underdog. Well, almost everyone....

Norm started out his comedy career as a stand-up comic in Canada. He went on to write for Dennis Miller and Roseanne, but finally got his big break in 1993 when he joined Saturday Night Live. After becoming a frequent correspondant to Kevin Nealon on the Weekend Update segment, Norm landed behind the Update desk himself at the beginning of the show's 1994 season.

Unfortunately, one person who was not particularly fond of Norm was Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC West. Rumor has it that Ohlmeyer was good friends with O.J. Simpson, the subject of Norm's constant mockery on Update. December 13, 1997 was Norm's final Weekend Update. In January he was replaced by Colin Quinn. Thanks to Ohlmeyer, Norm would now appear only in skits and not on Update. "That's like telling Roger Clemens you no longer want him to pitch for your team, but you want to keep him around as a pinch hitter," said TV Guide in their "Jeer" of Norm's sacking. Fans demanded NBC either reinstate Norm as Update anchorman, or let him out of his SNL contract altogether. On March 14 1998, Norm made his last appearance as a member of the SNL cast.

In 1998, Norm starred in "Dirty Work," a film that he co-wrote. In the movie, he and Artie Lange play two buddies who open a revenge-for-hire business. The movie was bashed by critics and bombed at the box office, but Norm's true fans loved it.

Norm Macdonald became more widely recognized when he got his own sitcom on ABC in 1999. Though he had said himself that he doesn't like sitcoms, he managed to bring his own wry humor that we saw on Weekend Update into his show, "Norm." In it, Norm played a former hockey player who was arrested for gambling and tax evasion, and was forced to do community service as a social worker. The series also starred former "Roseanne" star Laurie Metcalf, and had featured surprisingly big name guest stars such as Jack Warden and Abe Vigoda. With the start of the second season, Artie Lange (of "Dirty Work") joined the show's cast, along with Nikki Cox and Faith Ford.

Norm made a triumphant return to the show that booted him, by hosting the October 23rd episode of Saturday Night Live in 1999. Some highlights included Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy, and Larry King's News and Views. Norm used the opening monologue as a chance to comment on the situation, noting that he apparently somehow went from being so unfunny that he "wasn't even allowed in the building," to being asked to host the show. "I haven't gotten funnier," Norm decided. "The show has gotten really bad!"

In 2000, Norm co-starred with Dave Chappelle ("Half Baked") in the screwball comedy, "Screwed." In the movie, Norm fakes his own kidnapping to get back at an ungrateful boss. Norm has also had cameo roles in "Man On The Moon," "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo," and "The Animal," and provides the voice of Lucky in the Dr. Dolittle movies. He has also been a contestant on the celebrity version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," and appeared on several Celebrity World Poker Tours.

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Russ Dimino 2009