Tuesday, the Saturday Night Live alum’s management firm Brillstein Entertainment confirmed the passing, saying that Macdonald had been “battling cancer for nearly a decade” but had elected to keep his health matters private.
“He was most proud of his comedy,” Lori Jo Hoekstra, a producer and friend of the comedian’s, said in a statement. “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 certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
While Macdonald’s stand-up career is credited as having kicked off in the mid-1980s in the Ottawa area, a break as a writer on the hit sitcom Roseanne (and his subsequent joining of the SNL cast) brought him to the global comedy stage. Perhaps most influential during Macdonald’s SNL years was his unique approach of commanding the Weekend Update desk. Spurring a great deal of controversy at the time, Macdonald was later removed from the segment.
Macdonald appeared in a slew of films dating back to Billy Madison in 1995. He also starred in the 1998 comedy Dirty Work, which he co-wrote, as well as made appearances in less comedy-focused entries including The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon, both directed by Miloš Forman.
In addition to SNL—including his 1990 Star Search breakthrough—Macdonald’s TV roles spanned decades. The comedian’s TV appearances include parts on Fairly OddParents, The Larry Sanders Show, Mike Tyson Mysteries, Last Comic Standing, Girlboss, and much more. He also starred as Norm Henderson in the ABC sitcom The Norm Show.
In 2018, Norm Macdonald Has a Show debuted on Netflix. Guests featured across the 10 episodes of the Macdonald-hosted talk show included Chevy Chase, David Spade, Jane Fonda, David Letterman, and M. Night Shyamalan. The Norm Macdonald Live podcast, meanwhile, launched in 2013 and ran up until the unveiling of the Netflix series.
Following news of Macdonald’s death on Tuesday, fans have started reflecting on some of their favorite moments from the performer’s catalog, including this oft-cited gem: