Comedian And Actor Norm MacDonald Dies, Aged 61

Norm MacDonald

by James White |
Updated on

Norm MacDonald, a veteran Saturday Night Live performer, much-respected comic, writer and actor, has died. He was 61.

MacDonald was born in Quebec City in 1959, and kicked off his career touring the comedy clubs of his native Canada, honing his trademark deadpan style. That led to performing at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, though MacDonald had even higher career aspirations. Moving to Los Angeles, he started writing for The Dennis Miller Show and then TV sitcom Roseanne and scoring guest roles on series such as NewsRadio and The Drew Carey Show.

His big break was Saturday Night Live, appearing on screen and writing sketches between 1993 and 1998. MacDonald famously hosted the Weekend Update section of the show for years before being controversially ousted from the spot in 1997, ostensibly for his harder line of comedy and taking regular swipes at celebrities.

In addition to cult comedies such as Screwed and Dirty Work, he appeared in several films alongside friends Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, including Billy Madison, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Funny People, Grown Ups and The Ridiculous 6. MacDonald also had a hefty list of voice acting credits, lending his tonsil talents to the Eddie Murphy Doctor Dolittle movies and 2019's Klaus, among others.

"He was most proud of his comedy," MacDonald's longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra said in a statement. "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."

Though MacDonald was most known at SNL for hosting the Weekend Update news section, it's a rare comic who can stand up against Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery in a Celebrity Jeopardy skit. Farewell, Turd Ferguson...

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