Norm MacDonald, the renowned comedian whose large body of work included Saturday Night Live, a number of television runs and appearances in a various films, has passed away at the age of 61.
MacDonald succumbed to a private battle with cancer that lasted for around nine years, his rep has confirmed.
“He was most proud of his comedy,” reads a statement Deadline shared from MacDonald’s longtime friend and collaborator Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with MacDonald when he passed. “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.”
After around close to ten years of stand-up comedy in Canada, MacDonald’s early career saw him break out in Hollywood in 1992 as a television writer on both talkshow The Dennis Miller Show and sitcom Roseanne. The following year, MacDonald scored a role on sketch show Saturday Night Live, where he was a cast member and the host of “Weekend Update” segments for three seasons.
“Today is a sad day,” reads a statement from SNL. “All of us here at SNL mourn the loss of Norm MacDonald, one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation. There are so many things that we’ll miss about Norm — from his unflinching integrity to his generosity to his consistent ability to surprise. But most of all he was just plain funny. No one was funny like Norm.”
From SNL, MacDonald went on to have many television projects with varying degrees of success, including leading sitcoms Norm and A Minute With Stan Hooper, and hosting shows such as Sports Show With Norm MacDonald, Norm MacDonald Live, and Norm MacDonald Has a Show. He had acting roles on various comedy series such as The Middle and The Orville, as well as providing voice work for Skylanders Academy and Mike Tyson Mysteries.
On the film side of things, MacDonald had parts of various sizes on a features such as Dirty Work, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Billy Madison, Man on the Moon, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Screwed, and Funny People, as well as a voice role on Dr. Dolittle (’98), among other titles.
The prolific talent had a number of projects on the way, including a Netflix special that was to be filmed in March and a Netflix movie adaptation of his 2016 memoir, Based on a True Story: A Memoir.
MacDonald is survived by his mother, son, and two brothers.
Reactions from fellow comedians, those that knew him, and the many that worked with home over the years are pouring out:
Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal. pic.twitter.com/2Pftw28uPc
— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) September 14, 2021
My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 14, 2021
No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. Fuck cancer.
— Jon Stewart (@jonstewart) September 14, 2021
To so many people in comedy, me included, there was nobody funnier than Norm MacDonald. You always hoped he would hang around after the work was done, just so you could hear his stories and get a laugh. So hilarious and so generous with his personality. I’m gonna miss him.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) September 14, 2021
— Late Night with Seth Meyers (@LateNightSeth) September 15, 2021
Norm is the pinnacle of bravery and originality. 💔 https://t.co/UfeNoEUlUv
— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) September 14, 2021
Norm Macdonald has taken the most negative, jaded and narcissistic community, stand up comedians, to collectively agree on one thing today: how damn talented and loved Norm Macdonald was, is and will continue to be.
— Steve Byrne (@stevebyrnelive) September 15, 2021
Let me pause my meaningless online arguments to say Norm was one of the greatest comedians to have ever lived. One of the best moments of my career was when he found something I did funny. Very few comics will ever possess that level of mastery. RIP. https://t.co/VrsnVRCUZ9
— Tim Dillon (@TimJDillon) September 14, 2021
In such a divisive time even among comedians, we can all agree Norm MacDonald was the best. Rest In Peace.💔
— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) September 14, 2021
Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) September 14, 2021
Oh my God. We lost a legend. Norm was punishingly funny. A unique special point of view and completely organic. RIPNormMacDonald https://t.co/u3nkFjs099
— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) September 14, 2021
We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind. https://t.co/0sXoCLEtuG
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 14, 2021
NOOOOO GODDAMIT. Oh my God what is even happening.
Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious. https://t.co/loW3QsEjgW
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) September 14, 2021
The greatest https://t.co/s96sGyjcdW
— Mr. Bob Odenkirk (@mrbobodenkirk) September 14, 2021
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.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) September 14, 2021
Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 14, 2021
Devastated. Met Norm in Ottawa when he was in my audience at 17 years old. Been close for decades. We have lost a comedic genius. No other voice in comedy has been as uniquely prolific, brazen, dark, hilarious, and heartfelt. Love you forever, Norm. pic.twitter.com/V44nyouhQN
— bob saget (@bobsaget) September 14, 2021
The comedy world lost a Titan today, in Norm Macdonald, I don’t know what else to say, I am in shock. He’s still 20 years ahead of his time. He was so funny, so fearless, so unique, a master. His legacy will leave a humongous mark! Truly a comic’s comic! ❤️❤️☕️ #RIPNormMacDonald
— Jamie Kennedy (@JamieKennedy) September 15, 2021
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