Norm Macdonald
Norman Gene "Norm" Macdonald
(born October 17, 1963) is a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, producer and actor. He is best known for his five seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which included anchoring Weekend Update for three years. Early in his career, he wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and made appearances on shows including The Drew Carey Show and NewsRadio. He also starred in The Norm Show from 1999 to 2001. Comedy Central named him #83 on the five part miniseries 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. He is noted as one of Conan O'Brien's favourite and most frequent guests on his various talk shows. His brother is Canadian journalist Neil Macdonald, of CBC News' Washington, D.C. bureau.

Starting February 26, 2011, Macdonald became the new host of High Stakes Poker on Game Show Network. He also hosted Sports Show with Norm Macdonald on Comedy Central, which began airing on April 12, 2011. It was announced on June 7, 2011, that the Sports Show would not be renewed for a second season, reportedly due to low ratings, even though Sports Show steadily averaged one million viewers per episode.

Early LifeEdit

Macdonald was born and raised in Quebec City. His father was Percy Macdonald, a Scottish-Canadian who served with the Canadian Army during World War 2 and helped liberate the Netherlands. His mother is Ferns Macdonald. Macdonald has two brothers, Leslie and Neil, who are both journalists with the CBC.

In the early 1970s, Macdonald attended grade school where his parents taught at Alexander Wolff School, on Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, outside Quebec City. Macdonald has said that he was a student in his father's class, and that he had to call him "Mr. Macdonald" while in class. His father, often described as a very strict man, was his homeroom teacher for two years (grades 6 and 7). After completing 7th grade, Macdonald attended Quebec High School in Quebec City.

Early CareerEdit

Macdonald began performing stand-up at clubs in Ottawa. His first big break was at the 1987 Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal.

Saturday Night LiveEdit

Macdonald joined the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL) television programme in 1993, where he performed impressions of Larry King, Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Charles Kuralt and Bob Dole, among others. Following Kevin Nealon's departure from SNL, Macdonald anchored the segment Weekend Update. Chevy Chase, the first anchor of Weekend Update, has opined that Macdonald was the "best Weekend Update anchor since, well, Chevy Chase".

Macdonald's version of Weekend Update often included repeated references to prison rape, crack whores and the Germans' love of Baywatch star David Hasselhoff. Macdonald would occasionally deliver a piece of news, then take out his personal compact tape recorder and leave a "note to self" relevant to what he just discussed. He also commonly and inexplicably used Frank Stallone as a non sequitur punchline. Macdonald repeatedly ridiculed public figures such as Marion Barry, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson. Throughout Simpson's trial for murder, Macdonald constantly pilloried the former football star, often heavily implying Simpson was guilty of the brutal slaying of his wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman. In the broadcast following Simpson's acquittal, Macdonald opened Weekend Update by saying: "Well, it's official: murder is legal in the state of California." During the February 24, 1996 episode, Macdonald made a controversial joke about the sentencing of John Lotter, one of the two men who committed the notorious murder of Teena Brandon: "In Nebraska, a man was sentenced to death for killing a female crossdresser, who accused him of rape, and two of her friends. Excuse me if this sounds harsh, but in my mind, they all deserved to die."

After the announcement that Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley planned to divorce, Macdonald joked about their irreconcilable differences on Weekend Update: "She's more of a stay at home type, and he's more of a homosexual paedophile." He followed this up a few seconds later with a report about the singer's recent collapse and hospitalisation. Referring to a report of how Jackson had decorated his hospital room with giant photographs of Shirley Temple, Macdonald remarked that viewers should not get the wrong idea, adding, "We'd like to remind you that Michael Jackson is, in fact, a homosexual paedophile." The joke elicited audible gasps from some audience members. He responded to this by saying, "What? He is a homosexual paedophile."

Macdonald's time with Saturday Night Live effectively ended in late 1997, when he was fired from the Weekend Update segment upon the insistence of NBC West Coast Executive Don Ohlmeyer, who pressured the producers to remove him, explaining that Macdonald often antagonised on the show, may have fuelled Ohlmeyer's decision, but Macdonald has been quoted as saying that he "finds that thesis 'weird' and takes Ohlmeyer's explanation at face value".

On February 28, 2998, one of his last appearances on SNL occurred as host of a fictitious TV show called Who's More Grizzled?, who asked questions of "mountain men" played by that night's host Garth Brooks and special guest Robert Duvall. In the sketch, Brooks's character said to Macdonald's character, "I don't much care for you," to which Macdonald replied, "A lot of people don't."

In a Late Show with David Letterman interview, Macdonald said that after being fired, he could not "do anything else on any competing show."

Macdonald went on the Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch on the 34th season finale of SNL when Will Ferrell hosted. Macdonald reprised the impression of Burt Reynolds that he did when he was a regular cast member.

Characters on SNLEdit

  • Stan Hooper, a cynical man who exploits other people. (The short-lived FOX sitcom A Minute With Stan Hooper featured a version of this character).

Celebrity ImpersonationsEdit

  • Al Michaels
  • Andy Rooney
  • Allen Funt (as his character Todd Deal)
  • Barry Scheck
  • Bill Cosby
  • Bob Dole
  • Bob Uecker
  • Burt Reynolds (Turd Ferguson)
  • Charles Kuralt
  • Clint Eastwood
  • Craig Reid from The Proclaimers
  • David Letterman
  • Dr. Jack Kevorkian
  • Flea
  • George Burns
  • John Gray
  • Juan Peron
  • Slim Pickens
  • Larry King
  • Lou Gehrig
  • Marv Albert
  • Michael Richards
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Rod Sterling
  • Rowan Atkinson (as his character Mr. Bean)
  • Burton Gilliam, though erroneously referred to as Slim Pickens
  • Tommy Lee

Recent ProjectsEdit

Soon after leaving Saturday Night Live, Macdonald co-wrote and starred in the "revenge comedy" Dirty Work (1998) with Jack Warden, Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, Chris Farley, Artie Lange and Adam Sandler. Later that year, Macdonald voiced the character of Lucky the dog in the Eddie Murphy remake of Dr. Dolittle. He reprised the role in both Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) and Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006). Macdonald voiced the character of Death of an episode of Family Guy. Due to a conflict with his stand-up comedy schedule, he was unavailable to voice the character for the next appearance; Death has since been voiced by Adam Carolla. In 1999, Macdonald starred in the sitcom The Norm Show (later renamed Norm), co-starred Laurie Metcalf, Artie Lange and Ian Gomez. It ran for three seasons on ABC. Macdonald voiced Hardee's restaurants' (Carl's Jr. on the U.S. west coast) costumed mascot, the Hardee's star in advertisements. Macdonald also appeared on several Miller Lite commercials that year. He appeared on the September 1999 Saturday Night Live primetime special celebrating the programme's 25th year on the air. Macdonald was one of only three former Weekend Update anchors to introduce a retrospective on the segment (the other being Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller).

Macdonald returned to Saturday Night Live to host the October 23, 1999 show. In his opening monologue, he expressed resentment at having been fired, then concluded that the only reason he was asked to host was because "the show has gotten really bad" since he left. The next episode, airing November 6, 1999 and hosted by Dylan McDermott, featured a sketch where Chris Kattan, as the androgynous character Mango, is opening letters from celebrity admirers and, after opening the last one, says "the letter is from Norm Macdonald, who is that?" Also is 1999, Macdonald made a cameo appearance in the Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon. When Michael Richards refused to portray himself in the scene re-enacting the famous Fridays Incident where Kaufman throws water in his face, Macdonald stepped in to play Richards, although he is never referred to be his name.

On Macdonald's first appearance on The Daily Show after Jon Stewart took over, he caused controversy when he said "I'm really glad to see you're hosting the show, man. I hated that other guy." In a previous interview, Macdonald retorted: "I hate that...'Daily Show.' I know you critics love it, but it just seems like the most obvious type of comedy." After Jon Stewart got the job he explained his previous comments. "I was joking," he contended "I love 'The Daily Show.' And I love Jon Stewart. But in print, you can't italicise irony, know what I mean? It's all just words. A guy could say right now: "I hate David Letterman. I really hate him." And you could print that. But don't print it."

In 2000, Macdonald starred in his second motion picture, Screwed, which, like Dirty Work, fared poorly at the box office.

On November 12, 2000, Macdonald appeared on the Celebrity Edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? winning $500,000.00 for Paul Newman's Charity Camp. Macdonald could have won a million dollars, but admitted he was too nervous to go for it. Had he done so, his initial guess at the million dollar question (The Greenbrier) would have been correct. Prior to entering the Hot Seat, he got his own personalised Fastest Finger question, which asked him to "Put the following letters in order to spell a popular man's name", with the four answers being all four letters in his name, spelled out in order as the correct order.

Macdonald continued to make appearances on television shows and in films, including Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo and The Animal, all of which starred fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus Rob Schneider and were produced by Adam Sandler. In 2003 he played the title character in the FOX sitcom A Minute with Stan Hooper, which was cancelled after six episodes.

In 2005, Macdonald signed a deal with Comedy Central to create a new sketch comedy pilot called Back to Norm, which debuted that May. The pilot was never turned into a series. Its infamous cold opening parodied the suicide of Budd Dwyer, a Pennsylvania politician who, facing decades of incarceration, committed suicide on live television in 1987. Rob Schneider appeared in the pilot. Also in 2005, Macdonald performed as a voice actor, portraying a genie named Norm, on two episodes of the cartoon series The Fairly Odd Parents. But he could not return for the third episode, "Fairy Idol", due to a scheduling conflict. In 2006, Macdonald again performed as a voice actor, this time in a series of commercials for Canadian cellphone services provider Bell Mobility, as the voice of "Frank the Beaver". The campaign had a commercial tie-in with the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin and with the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The ads ran heavily on CBC during the Olympics and throughout the National Hockey League's post season. Due to its success, the campaign was extended throughout 2006, 2007 and into 2008 to promote offerings from other Bell Canada divisions such as Bell Sympatico Internet provider and Bell TV satellite service. In August 2008, the new management at Bell decided that they would go in a different direction with advertising, and would no longer be using the beavers.

In September 2006, Macdonald's sketch comedy album, Ridiculous, was released by Comedy Central Records. It features appearances by Will Ferrell, Jon Lovitz, Tim Meadows, Molly Shannon and Artie Lange. On September 14, 2006, Macdonald appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Steward to promote Ridiculous. During the appearance, Macdonald made some jokes about the recent death of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Stewart, holding back laughter, asked Norm to change the subject, but he kept going and Stewart kept trying to hold back the laughter. Macdonald was a guest character on My Name Is Earl in the episode "Two Balls, Two Strikes" as "Lil Chubby", the son of "Chubby" (played by Burt Reynolds), similar to Macdonald's portrayals of Reynolds on SNL.

In the 2007 World Series of Poker, he came in 20th place out of 827 entrants in the $3,000 No Limit Texas Hold 'em event, winning $14,608. He also made it to round two of the $5,000 World Championship of Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em. On the comedy website, Super Deluxe, he has created an animated series entitled "The Fake News". Norm has filled in during Dennis Miller's weekly O'Reilly Factor "Miller Time" segment on January 2, 2008, and guest-hosted Dennis Miller's radio show on January 3, 2008. Norm had also been a regular contributor on Miller's show every Friday, prior to an unexplained absence that left Miller wondering on-air if the show had somehow miffed Norm. Macdonald returned after many months on May 03, 2008, but not before missing a scheduled appearance the day before. He also hosted Miller's radio show for the second time on July 16, 2008, along with friend Stevie Ray Fromstein.

On June 19, 2008, Macdonald was a celebrity panellist on two episodes of a revived version of the popular game show Match Game, which was taped at CBS Television City in Los Angeles. The new version featured the same set used in the early years of the 1970s version and also starred comedienne Sarah Silverman as a fellow celebrity panellist. On August 17, 2008, Norm was a participant in the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget, performing intentionally cheesy and G-rated material that contrasted greatly with the raunchy performances of the other roasters. In AT&T commercials around Christmas 2007 and 2008, Macdonald voiced a gingerbread boy wanting a prepaid mobile phone from his dad (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who repeatedly rebuilds his house because "people won't stop eating it". The ad was for AT&T's GoPhone. Norm is working on a programme for the FX network called The Norm Macdonald Reality Show, in which he plays a fictional, down-on-his-luck version of himself. On the May 16, 2009, episode of Saturday Night Live, Macdonald reappeared as Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeapardy!. He also appeared in another sketch later on playing the guitar. On May 31, 2009, he appeared on Million Dollar Password.

Macdonald became a frequent guest on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien during its 2009 and 2010 run. Norm was among the first guests on O'Brien's Tonight Show, and appeared also during the show's final week. Initially, The Tonight Show faced network opposition to bringing Norm on so early in the show's run, and Norm having nothing but local stand-up appearances to promote on-air. Despite this, O'Brien's insistence prevailed and Norm's first and subsequent appearances were highlights of O'Brien's brief Tonight Show run. Norm was a guest on Conan's new TBS show, Conan on May 17, 2011. Macdonald has also made frequent appearances on the internet talk show Tom Green's House Tonight, and on May 20, 2010, he guest hosted the show.

In September 2010, it was reported that Macdonald was developing a new series for Comedy Central that he described as a sports version of The Daily Show. As of April 2011, the show was titled Sports Show with Norm Macdonald and premiered on April 12 on Comedy Central. The Sports Show was not renewed, reportedly due to low ratings, after all nine ordered episodes were broadcast. Macdonald's first stand-up special, Me Doing Stand-Up, aired on Comedy Central on March 26. On May 23, 2011 Comedy Central announced the release as audio CD and DVD of the special on June 14 on Comedy Central Records, and Home Entertainment. The CD will be made available digitally and physically. Both releases will contain uncensored and unseen material from the special, and the DVD features will include the sitcom pilot Back To Norm, an animated featurette The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Norm's appearance on The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget.

Macdonald is currently the commentator and co-host of the seventh season of High Stakes Poker on Game Show Network along with Kara Scott.

In June 2012, Norm Macdonald became the spokesperson for Safe Auto Insurance Company. Along with television and radio commercials, web banners and outdoor boards, the effort will also include a series of made-for-web videos. As part of the campaign, the state minimum auto insurance company is introducing a new tagline, "Drive Safe, Spend Less."


Despite referring to himself as apolitical, Macdonald has made controversial references to politically charged issues. At the end of the last Weekend Update segment before the 1996 presidential election, Norm urged viewers to vote for Bob Dole (of whom Macdonald frequently performed a comic impersonation), though hinting that he had solely said it so that he could continue impersonating him.

On the November 16, 2000 episode of The View Macdonald said that he thought George W. Bush was "a decent man" and he called Bill Clinton a "murderer" (regarding the Vince Foster case). Macdonald later stated in Maxim magazine that he is completely apolitical, and that he was joking when he said Clinton "killed a guy" (he further explained on The Adam Carolla Show that the comments were simply designed to anger Barbara Walters). In a phone interview he later clarified his views on George W. Bush and the Iraq was thusly: "I wish there was another president, a different president engaging the war, since we're in the war because I don't think Bush did a very good job with it. The war itself, you know, if it works it was worth it. But I don't know if it's going to work, so I don't know."

In 2003, Macdonald appeared on Barbara Walter's programme The View, publicly renouncing his Canadian citizenship as a joke over his home country's decision not to participate in the Iraq War, stated his belief that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president ever and said that he would be becoming a naturalised citizen of the United States. Later he affirmed that he was joking about renouncing his Canadian citizenship, stating in a telephone interview that "I'm not an American citizen. I'm a Canadian citizen. I just keep renewing my green card...I don't want to be American." He further burnished his apolitical stance in regards to both America and Canada saying that he was not eligible to vote in America elections and never voted in Canadian elections either: "I figured since I never did when I was in Canada...I never voted because I don't want to make a mistake. I'm so uninformed that I don't want that on my hands, you know?"

On the January 2, 2008 episode of The O'Reilly Factor, Macdonald stated that he is "very pro-life, but against the death penalty." His friend Artie Lange would soon afterward confirm these opinions as sincere on The Howard Stern Show.

Views on ComedyEdit

Speaking about Canada's homegrown comedy industry, Macdonald reflected that he would have liked there to have been more opportunity for him to stay in the country early in his career, stating: "No I know there's more of, like, an industry there. Like, I was happy that Brent Butt got that show. Because he's a really funny guy. But there wasn't that opportunity when I was there. I remember Mike McDonald had one short-lived series, but that was about it. Otherwise there was nothing to do. But it was great with stand-up. I was way, way better with stand-up than in the States. Like, I think the stand-ups are generally much better in Canada. Because, like, when I was in Canada, none of us had any ambition to movies or TV because there were no movies or television. So it was all stand-up and we just assumed we'd be stand-ups for our whole lives and that was what was fun. And then when I came to the States, I realised, whoa, they don't take their stand-up very seriously here because they're just trying to do something other than stand-up and using stand-up as, like, a springboard to something else that they're generally not as good at."

Reflecting on the state of modern comedy, Macdonald bemoaned the influx of dramatic actors into comedy and comedians into dramatic acting: "What young, handsome person is funny? I remember on Saturday Night Live hosts would come in. You know, like handsome hosts. They'd be dramatic actors generally. And the publicist would always be like, "This is a big chance for this guy because he's really a funny guy and people don't know it. He's hilarious!" And then he'd just suck, you know?...I always liked Steve Martin when he was crazy. Because dramatic actors know how to be likeable and stuff. To me, if you've got a guy like Steve Martin of Jim Carrey or something, who are unbelievably funny, I don't know why they'd want to be dramatic actors when they have no chance. They're completely outclassed by actual dramatic actors. How many funny comedy actors are there? There's like a million great dramatic actors. I don't know why they'd want to switch. I guess to get respect or something, I don't know."


Year Title Role
1993 The Jackie Thomas Show (TV) Jordan
1993-1998 Saturday Night Live (TV) Various
1995 Billy Madison Frank
1996 The People vs. Larry Flynt Network Reporter
1996 The Drew Carey Show (TV) Simon Tate
1997 NewsRadio (TV) Roger
1998 Dirty Work Mitch Weaver
1998 Dr. Dolilttle Lucky (Voice)
1999 Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo Bartender
1999 Man on the Moon Michael Richards in Fridays
1999 The Norm Show (TV) Norm Henderson
2000 Family Guy (TV) Death (Voice)- episode "Death Is A Bitch"
2000 Screwed Willard Fillmore
2001 The Animal Mob Member
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Lucky (Voice)
2003 A Minute with Stan Hooper (TV) Stan Hooper
2004 Oliver Beene (TV) Hobo Bob
2005 Back to Norm (TV) Various
2005 Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo Earl McManus
2005 The Fairly Odd Parents Norm the Genie
2006 Farce of the Penguins Join Twosomes Penguin (Voice)
2006 Dr. Dolittle Lucky (Voice)
2007 Senior Skip Day Mr. Rigetti
2007 My Name Is Earl (TV) Little Chubby
2008 The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget Himself
2008 Dr. Dolittle: Tail To The Chief Lucky (Voice)
2009 Funny People Cameo
2009 My Name Is Earl (TV) Little Chubby
2009 The Norm Macdonald Reality Show (TV) Self
2010 Grown Ups Geezer
2011 High Stakes Poker (TV) Presenter
2011 Sports Show with Norm Macdonald (TV) Host
2011 Jack & Jill Funbucket
2010-2012 The Middle (TV) Rusty Heck- episodes "Thanksgiving ", "The Play", and "The Wedding"
2012-present The Undead Eyes (TV) Monster Machine (Voice)
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