Norm Macdonald dies at 61; From the ESPY’s to O.J., the five best sports-related moments of comic’s career

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Norm Macdonald, actor, creator, and comic who hosted the “Weekend Update” phase on “Saturday Night Live” from 1995-97, died on Tuesday after a personal, nine-year battle with most cancers. He was 61.

“He was most proud of his comedy,” stated Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald’s longtime producing associate and good friend (via Deadline). “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 actually by no means pandered. Norm shall be missed terribly.”

Widely regarded as one of the best and most influential comics ever, Macdonald was also known as an avid sports fan and bettor. The Quebec City native even played an ex-professional hockey player who was suspended by the NHL for gambling and tax evasion on his ABC sitcom “The Norm Show” (he played “Norm”), which aired from 1999-2001.

Macdonald additionally hosted a short-lived “The Daily Show”-style program on Comedy Central in 2011, the “Sports Show with Norm Macdonald.” The first joke from the first episode tells you all the pieces you want to learn about the tone and Macdonald’s type of humor:

Macdonald was concerned in lots of basic sports-related moments all through his career, together with playing tennis with Jon Lovitz, making a punch line of boxer and “Rocky” actor& Frank Stallone’s name, and portraying Marv Albert on “SNL.” Here are five extra of our favorites (plus a bonus bit at the finish):

1. ESPY’s monologue: “That is something that no one can ever take away from you…”

Macdonald’s ESPY’s monologue in 1998 reduce a bit of too deep for ESPN executives and plenty of of the athletes in attendance, most notably his jokes about East German speedskaters, Tiger Woods’ fellow golfers, and, of course, his legendary, monologue-closing Charles Woodson joke:

Macdonald additionally did a bit later in the present with Will Ferrell, who mocked John Elway’s tooth whereas in character as former Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray. Ferrell later talked about it as a time he may need gone too far along with his comedy:

It’s broadly believed that after Macdonald hosted, ESPN determined to “play it safe” with the ESPY’s, instructing hosts to not be too edgy or offensive. So, Norm not solely solely hosted the best ESPY’s ever, however he additionally ruined it without end, which is one thing nobody can ever take away from him.

2. O.J. Simpson jokes: “Well, it is finally official…”

The O.J. Simpson trial was the greatest information occasion of the ’90s, and Macdonald was the host of “Weekend Update” at the time. His weekly takedowns and breakdowns of Simpson and the trial had been appointment viewing, as few comedians had been as fearless or incisive.

These clip packages would possibly make you uncomfortable in 2021 — hell, they made individuals uncomfortable in 1995 (see Ken Griffey Jr.’s response in the monologue clip above) — however Macdonald did not care, as he adopted his first two guidelines of comedy: Be humorous, and inform the fact.

Macdonald’s opening “Weekend Update” joke on the present after Simpson was acquitted is broadly thought to be one of the best “Weekend Update” jokes of all time (and, sure, he was saying “fake news” lengthy earlier than it grow to be trendy):

It’s believed Macdonald was in the end fired from “Weekend Update” as a result of of NBC president Don Ohlmeyer’s friendship with Simpson. Ohlmeyer and the community claimed it was as a result of they did not suppose Macdonald was humorous.

When Macdonald was invited again the subsequent 12 months to host “SNL,” he requested a easy query: “How did I go in a year-and-a-half to being not funny enough to be even allowed in the building, to being so funny that I’m now hosting the show? How did I suddenly get so goddamn funny?”

Wouldn’t all of us like to know the reply to that final query?

3. Oscar Pistorius bit: “Allegedly…but, also, really…”

This is not a legendary cultural second by any means, however it’s the form of area of interest, esoteric bit that true Norm (and/or Conan O’Brien) followers know and love.

It’s additionally a fantastic instance of Macdonald’s timing, type, and comedian brilliance. It looks like he is rambling at first, and the viewers members do not actually know whether or not they need to chuckle, cringe, or boo. He will get some laughs alongside the method, however the crowd nonetheless is not absolutely with him.

Then, as if it was his plan all alongside (was it?), he turns the tables on Conan and Andy Richter, makes them appear to be the jerks, and will get the greatest chuckle of all. And of course he does it with some ol’ timey slang:

4. Blake Griffin press convention: “There’s kind of a curse with Rookie of the Year…”

Looking to flex his reporting expertise, Macdonald made a shock look at Griffin’s Rookie of the Year information convention again in 2011 after the then-Clippers ahead had gained the award.

“It’s a question from Blake’s good friend, Norm,” Macdonald stated to Griffin, who was already laughing earlier than Macdonald had even grabbed the microphone.

Griffin had beforehand appeared on the “Sports Show with Norm Macdonald” as half of the phase “Blake Like Me.” The bit was a sports activities takeoff on Eddie Murphy’s well-known “SNL” mockumentary sketch “White Like Me.”

Griffin shared his ideas on Macdonald in a tweet posted Tuesday night time, calling Macdonald one of his comedy heroes and noting that Norm’s query was his “favorite press conference moment ever.”

5. Bob Uecker tales with David Letterman: “Bob Uecker’s a very interesting guy…”

“Do you have a story you can tell us about Bob Uecker, voice of the Milwaukee Brewers?”

Of course he does. Enjoy:

Make that two tales: 


Bonus: Norm Goes Viral: “… IN A CAR!”

Norm can lastly discover out God’s response to this in individual. RIP you previous chunk of coal, and thanks for the laughs.

Sporting News’ Jordan Greer contributed to this text.

This article has been up to date since its authentic publishing.

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