Norman Gene Macdonald passed away on September 14, 2021 battling cancer to a draw after 9 years. In this writer’s opinion, Norm is the best pure comic of this generation, drawing clear influence from greats like Rodney Dangerfield while still presenting a dead pan delivery style that is all Norm.
Not many celebrity deaths have struck me in this way. The last time I felt a loss like this from someone I didn’t know was when Rowdy Roddy Piper died. I suppose I’m writing this to grieve because watching clips of Norm work is just making me laugh so much, you forget he’s gone.
The first time I was introduced to his work was when he played Frank in the film Billy Madison. I still answer people who ask what day it is by saying “October?” because of the lovable idiot he played in that movie. Norm was in several movies like Dirty Work and Screwed but his best work was as the anchor for Weekend Update back when Saturday Night Live was still a comedy show.
Norm loved to deliver the “fake news” on SNL. Some of his best bits were from Weekend Update as well but you know who didn’t like it so much? You guessed it…Don Ohlmeyer, President of the West Coast Division of NBC, and friend of OJ Simpson.
Norm was fired from SNL after 5 years on the cast and during that time we were introduced to his gum-chewing impression of Burt Reynolds who alongside Daryl Hammond’s Sean Connery used to torment Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek on Celebrity Jeopardy. Just don’t call him Mr. Reynolds because that’s not his name.
When an aspiring comic came on a show, he was judging comparing the Bible to Harry Potter, he didn’t laud him for his courage like another judge did, he instead informed the young man that it wasn’t brave at all. Norm also tweeted on October 31, 2017, the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, “Scripture. Faith. Grace. Christ, Glory of God. Smart man says nothing is a miracle.
I say everything is.” Those are the Five Solas of the Reformation and Norm believed them and trusted that everything points to the glory of our great God in Christ. While I am not God and cannot preach, eulogize, or assume anyone into heaven, I do know that all whom have repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.
Thanks for the laughs, thanks for the demonstration of strength at the end of your life. To die well is all a man can ask for and with a platform like yours, you could have dominated the headlines with updates on your condition, but you hid your condition for 9 years and after all that time, you took that rotten cancer down with you like a tough son of a gun. If anyone asks me if you lost your battle with cancer, I’ll tell them what you used to say, you fought it to a draw. Thank you Norm.