I sure didn’t expect to be typing those words any time soon when I woke up two days ago.
Norm MacDonald is possibly the funniest human being who lived at the same time I lived. Back when he was running his podcast, I would listen to them as I would go to sleep — and then my wife (who generally goes to bed later than I do) would hear me laughing out loud until I could barely breathe and come into the bedroom to find out what was so funny.
Nobody else ever made me laugh like that.
We were fortunate enough to see Norm live a couple of times. On one of the last times we were going to see him, we were told that he was not feeling well and would not be performing. Hearing the news, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the cancer he had fought for so long was getting to him that night. But we did get to see him in March 2020, just as the pandemic was starting to shut everything down. Norm was great that night, doing a whole riff on the coronavirus. He looked at the room full of people — and in truth many of us were wondering if we should have gone — and said we had made a great decision to come and sit in a room right next to a bunch of strangers. “At least I’m up here away from you.” Waxing philosophical, he began talking about how you never know what is going to kill you — and then said, in an offhand manner, “well, of course, now we do. It’s just a matter of what order we go in.” He blamed the coronavirus situation on the failure of a guy in China to order the “Impossible Bat” in his bat soup.
The following clip is a good example of his humor. There’s cursing, which puts some people off, but it’s a great example of his surprising style. There’s the put-on where he pretends not to know that Ben Matlock is a fictional character, the bit where he says he doesn’t like books because they make him “sleepy” (the man read Tolstoy for fun), and then the end of the story, which is pure Norm.
Norm told his story about meeting Ben Matlock on Letterman and it killed, but I think I prefer the version he did years later answering a genuine question from @StephenMerchant — so fucking funny #NormMacdonald pic.twitter.com/Q7WcDjm1je
— Evan Morgan Grahame (@Evan_M_G) September 15, 2021
Also by request of JVW is this bit, which is extra-special just because of the way Norm explains the joke at the end:
One overlooked reason I think virtually everyone liked Norm: he always smiled. Always. And he did not seem mean. Even when he was talking about a guy who fired him for making OJ jokes, he would smile and say the guy was a good guy.
He was one of a kind.