Norm Macdonald Remembered by Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Late-Night Hosts in Emotional Tributes
By Zach Seemayer
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Norm MacDonald, ‘SNL’ and ‘Billy Madison’ Star, Dead at 61
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Norm Macdonald's comedy brilliance, generosity and indelible legacy are being remembered and celebrated. Late-night TV hosts Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden and Stephen Colbert paid tribute to the late comic on Tuesday just hours after news broke of his death.
Meyers, who worked with Macdonald on Saturday Night Live, shared some favorite stories about the comedian, and explained how he was inspired by Macdonald's tenure as "Weekend Update" anchor during his own time helming the desk for several years.
"I started at SNL in 2001, and I remember one time, Norm walked back into the studio to visit,” recalled Meyers during Tuesday's Late Night. “I don’t remember how old his son was at the time, but his son was young and someone said, ‘Hey Norm, how’s being a dad?’ And he said, ‘It’s going great. Still no abductions.’ That’s the first thing I ever heard him say in-person.”
Meyers continued to share the impact Macdonald had on comedy and himself. "He told me one, his favorite thing about SNL is that it's the last place on TV where you can bomb. He just didn't care if he was bombing. If he thought the jokes were good, he had exactly as much fun telling them to a dead audience as one that appreciated them, he shared. "I think for so many of us, we came up watching Norm, and we thought that we were on the inside with him, when you were watching him tell these jokes that you thought were great, and no one in the room thought was good."
The late-night host wasn't done praising the late comedian. "You just felt this connection to him and that ability to just stare into an audience, unblinkingly telling the jokes that he believed in," he said.
Meyers also explained how, when he was serving as the "Weekend Update" anchor, he had to make an effort to not deliver every joke the way Macdonald would, because his influence was so great.
He proclaimed that Macdonald was "the gold standard" for comedy and "he will continue to be the gold standard."
Colbert, meanwhile, shared a story from the time he served as a guest writer for Saturday Night Live for three episodes back in the '90s, and while it was difficult to connect with people in that short amount of time, Macdonald welcomed him into the fold.
"Norm goes, 'Come sit with us. Come sit with us,' and I ended up writing for 'Weekend Update' the whole time I was there," Colbert recalled on The Late Show. "He is, in my opinion, the greatest host of 'Weekend Update' they have had. Not to take away from anybody else, but he was my cup of tea."
"I liked that he told jokes, that, [I mean this in] the nicest possible way, he didn't seem to care if the audience liked them," Colbert continued. "But he liked the joke. They were sometimes dark, sometimes even too dark for me. But they were dark and strange and he had a wonderful presence."
Colbert concluded, "I wish I were a good enough comedian to come up with a joke right now about Norm Macdonald having died. But the only comedian I know who could get away with a 'Norm Macdonald is dead' joke is Norm Macdonald. And I'm going to miss the fact that there's nobody left on the planet who can do that. And the comedy world is poorer for it today."
Corden also honored Macdonald's memory during his Late Late Show opening monologue, calling him "an absolute comedy legend."
"All Norm ever wanted to do was to make us laugh, and he was absolutely brilliant at it. There was nobody quite like him. I felt privileged any time I got to be in his orbit," Corden shared. "He leaves us as one of the all-time great comics, perhaps the single greatest guest in the history of late-night television, I think."
Fallon, who is also a SNL alum and former Weekend Update anchor, remembered Macdonald as one of his icons and biggest inspirations in his early days of comedy, and did an impression of a comedy routine Macdonald had delivered on TV decades ago about buying dogs, and how expensive and dangerous they were to have as pets.
"He was a comic's comic and everybody loved him, top to bottom," Fallon shared. "He will be missed."
Meanwhile, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, "Norm didn't just make us laugh, he made us laugh hard. Rest well, you crazy bastard."
Norm didn't just make us laugh, he made us laugh hard. Rest well, you crazy bastard.
Meanwhile, a number of former late-night hosts who were witness to some of Macdonald's most beloved and infamous talk show interview anecdotes also paid their respects.
"In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best," David Letterman tweeted. "An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you. I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I'm trying to avoid using the phrase, "twinkle in his eyes"). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget."
I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I’m trying to avoid using the phrase, “twinkle in his eyes”). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget. Dave Letterman
Conan O'Brien wrote that he was "absolutely devastated" about the news.
"Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny," O'Brien shared. "I will never laugh that hard again. I'm so sad for all of us today."
I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I'm so sad for all of us today.
Jon Stewart also tweeted, "No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. F**k cancer."
Macdonald died Tuesday morning after a nine-year private battle with cancer, his management firm, Brillstein Entertainment, told Deadline. He was 61. Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald's longtime producing partner and friend, was with the comedian when he died, and told the outlet that, though Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade, he was determined to keep his health struggles private, and away from his family, friends and fans.
The Canadian-born Macdonald began his career as a writer on Roseanne, a job he held from 1992 to 1993. He went on to appear on Saturday Night Live from 1993 to 1998. He anchored the show's "Weekend Update" segment for three seasons. Following his SNL stint, Macdonald led his own sitcom, The Norm Show, for three years. Throughout his career, Macdonald appeared in films including Billy Madison, Funny People and Grown Ups, and TV series including Sunnyside, Girlboss and The Middle.
He is survived by his 28-year-old son, Dylan Macdonald.