Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald dies at 61

Canadian comedian and former Saturday Night Live "Weekend Update" host Norm Macdonald has died. The 61-year old had been quietly battling cancer for the last nine years.

Canadian comedian and former Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” host Norm Macdonald has died. The 61-year old had been quietly battling cancer for the last nine years.

Born and raised in Quebec City, Macdonald got his start in comedy performing at clubs like Yuk Yuk’s in the Ottawa area in the mid-1980s, which led to a spot at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal. After appearing as a contestant on Star Search in 1990, he went on to work as a writer on Roseanne during the 1992-93 season before leaving the show to join the cast of SNL.

With SNL until 1998, among Macdonald’s more memorable impressions were Larry King, David Letterman, Burt Reynolds, and Republican senator Bob Dole. His consistent pillorying of public figures like O.J. Simpson is believed to be behind a decision by Bob Ohlmeyer, president of NBC’s West Coast Division, to replace Macdonald on the Weekend Update desk with Colin Quinn.

Macdonald went on to star in his own comedy series, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001. Starting in 2013, he hosted podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, for three seasons, co-hosted by The Comedy Store’s Adam Eget and with former Late Show with David Letterman producer Daniel Kellison serving as executive producer. That led to Netflix talk show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, which ran for one season in 2018. More recently, Macdonald had a recurring role on ABC sitcom The Middle. He also served as a consulting producer on the Roseanne reboot in 2018, among other voiceover, television and feature film credits.

Macdonald, who was a frequent guest on the late night talk shows, was notably the last stand-up act to appear on the final episode of Late Show with David Letterman.

Known for his deadpan style, Macdonald has been cited as a big influence on comedians like fellow Canadian Seth Rogen, current Weekend Update host Colin Jost, and others.

Macdonald’s brother, Neil, is a former CBC foreign correspondent. In 2016, he penned a review of his brother’s “meta-memoir” Based On A True Story.


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