Norm Macdonald's Most Iconic Moments

Canadian comedy icon Norm Macdonald died at the age of 61 this week. Here are some of his funniest moments, from SNL to his talk show appearances. RIP, legend.

Norm MacDonald during the 'Weekend Update' skit on April 12, 1997

Image via Getty/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal

Norm MacDonald during the 'Weekend Update' skit on April 12, 1997

Heads up, friends: We will be laugh-crying today.

Because the world lost a hilarious personality this week. Canadian comic and actor Norm Macdonald died at the age of 61 in Los Angeles on September 14, following a private, nearly decade-long struggle with cancer.

Macdonald’s influence began behind the mic as a stand-up comedian, performing at the Ottawa Yuk Yuk’s amateur night, and eventually at Just for Laughs in Montreal. He put his straight-faced wit to work writing for the Roseanne sitcom in the early ’90s before being recruited by 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Then, from ’93 to ’98, he performed on Saturday Night Live, quickly earning a spot in the Weekend Update anchor’s chair. Chevy Chase, the bit’s creator, later called him “the only other guy who did [the segment] funny.”

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

Through the rest of his career in film, TV, sports commentating, voice acting, comedy, and more, Macdonald used his unique insight and deadpan delivery to make people laugh, think and sometimes squirm.

“Comedy is surprises,” he famously said, “so if you’re intending to make somebody laugh and they don’t laugh, that’s funny.”

Here are some of Norm Macdonald’s funniest moments. RIP, legend.

The moth joke

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A three-minute joke, stolen from a driver, and delivered with plenty of awkward eye contact between Norm and Conan, for a punchline that could’ve come 15 seconds in. And it works. Pure Norm genius.

Turd Furguson

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Macdonald returned to SNL in 1999 to reprise his role as Burt Reynolds (a.k.a. Turd Furguson) on “Celebrity Jeopardy.” Together with Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery, they deliver some of the best lines and exchanges in the show’s history.

my favorite press conference moment ever

— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin23) September 14, 2021

Norm told his story about meeting Ben Matlock on Letterman and it killed, but I think I prefer the version he did years later answering a genuine question from @StephenMerchant — so fucking funny #NormMacdonald

— Evan Morgan Grahame (@Evan_M_G) September 15, 2021

His final stand-up set on Letterman 

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When Macdonald was just breaking into Hollywood, he booked a spot on Late Night with David Letterman. He crushed the gig and it helped launch his career. His last stand-up appearance before Letterman retired is even more memorable.

Hanging out with the 'Grown Ups'

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Seeing Macdonald hanging out with his friends Rob Schnieder, Adam Sandler, and David Spade during an interview about one of the Grown Ups movies proves just how much of a comedic force he was. He’s sitting in the back, but eclipsing the entire cast.

The time he roasted Carrot Top’s film on Conan

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Macdonald stole the show from actor Courtney Thorne-Smith during a Conan interview back in 1997 when she was trying to plug a film she was doing with Carrot Top and Macdonald couldn’t stop absolutely roasting it. These attention-stealing moments would become a recurring theme in Macdonald’s interviews.

On understanding suicide

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There was an honesty to Macdonald’s comedy that helped lighten some of the heavier topics.

Norm Macdonald died from cancer. A great day to remember what he once said about cancer. It’s a draw, Norm! 💔 RIP

— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) September 15, 2021

When he roasted Clinton, and everyone else, at the 1997 White House Correspondents Dinner

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You could feel the cringe in the room when Macdonald took the mic at the White House Correspondents Dinner. But as he expertly insults then-president Bill Clinton, members of the media, and himself, Weekend Update style, the awkwardness gives way to genuine laughter. 

His relentless Weekend Update coverage of the OJ Simpson trial

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Macdonald was the comedic quarterback for one of the most publicized murder trials ever. Then-NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer was a close friend of Simpson’s, and there’s a widespread belief that Mcdonald’s constant skewering of OJ played a role in him getting canned from SNL. During a 1998 interview with Letterman, the comedian said Ohlmeyer told him he was fired because he “wasn’t funny,” despite having the support of the show’s executive producer Lorne Michaels. 

“He doesn’t think I’m funny in Weekend Update. And God only knows… and, you know, it’s just a matter of opinion. He also thinks that OJ is innocent,” Macdonald laughed. 

The ‘professor of logic’ joke

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A true master of timing, if not always logic.

The time he live-tweeted the 'SNL' 40th Anniversary

Norm MacDonald during the 'Weekend Update' skit on April 12, 1997

The reunion of A-listers that happened with the SNL 40th Anniversary episode in 2015 was televised live, but the event’s most intimate coverage was provided via Macdonald’s Twitter account. His play-by-play was at times funny, at times historical, and entirely humble.

On Hitler

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A bit so quotable they put it on a T-shirt.

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