Dang. This one really hurts. Norm MacDonald passed away today at the age of 61.

You didn't know he was sick? Either did I. I think that goes for everybody. Apparently the comedian, actor and SNL great had been battling the beast for 9 years but chose to keep his diagnosis private, according to Deadline.

Man... where do I start on this one.

I turned 18 the year Norm joined Saturday Night Live, at a time when I was becoming more aware of the world as a young adult. Norm's style of hosting the Weekend Update segment was really his own, as he chose to tell brutally honest jokes instead of the silly humor we had been used to seeing in years past.

He did the movie Dirty Work with Artie Lange in 1998 and then did The Norm Show in 1999. Just like his impression of Burt Reynolds on SNL, the characters he played were still Norm... he was just playing the essence of the character and the audience was always in on the joke.

His stand up was one of a kind. While you would hear people do their impressions of Norm, you couldn't impersonate the joke or his deadpan timing. You could ask someone "did you hear the joke Norm made last night on Conan," but you could never deliver the punchline and make it as funny.

I loved seeing Norm at comedy night at Bricktown... (remember that place?) Whenever he was on a late night talk show I always tuned in because Norm always delivered.

Norm started a YouTube channel a few years back and started to do his own talk show. He would interview other comics and would do some of his best material, proving that he could hold his own as a talk show host. (It seems as though all the videos were removed... probably when he moved his show to the streaming platform Netflix.)

My favorite part was Norm doing the same joke week after week to each guest, to see what kind of reaction he would get. While I can't remember it word for word, it would see Norm getting a serious look on his face and bringing up a famous serial killer. Norm would go on about this persons brutal killings and go into detail about what would be done to each victim. As Norm's guest recoiled in horror at the details, Norm would stammer a bit and then in Norm-fashion say... "Yeah, he was a real jerk!"

Sometimes the person would take a moment, sit back and then crack a smile, realizing it was Norm doing what he does best.

Other times, people like Roseanne Barr would sit back in disgust, concentrating on the details Norm first revealed... completely missing the joke. Those reactions were even funnier. Classic Norm.

When David Letterman signed off the air back in 2015, Norm MacDonald did a set of stand up to pay tribute to the late night talk show host. At the end of his final performance on the show, Norm got choked up and gave us a glimpse - if only for a moment - a look at the real Norm. Heck, it made me emotional, too. It was like he was saying to Dave what we were all thinking about his departure from TV.

Norm also penned a hilarious book, Based on a True Story: A Memoir, which I really recommend if you're a fan of Norm or comedy in general.

As you can see in the photo above, I got to meet Norm and take a picture with him way back in 2008. While he was always trying to quit smoking, Norm liked to hold a smoke as a prop.

He had seemed as though he had had a few drinks to loosen up, but years later I watched him in an interview discuss the reason why he liked to act drunk. He said women seem to be more forgiving of you touching them if you seem as though you've had too much to drink, so this would be his character at his shows.

A brilliant joke writer and performer, the world has lost a true gem today.

Rest in peace, Norm. Thanks for the laughs.

~Chris Farber



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