Comedian Norm MacDonald has passed away after privately battling cancer for nine years

Comedian Norm MacDonald has passed away after privately battling cancer for nine years

Today, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, many of us were surprised and saddened by the news that comedian Norm MacDonald had passed away “after a long and private battle with cancer.” MacDonald reportedly kept his diagnosis quiet from many family and friends, as well. MacDonald was best known as a player on Saturday Night Live, as a frequent talk show guest on Late Night with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. Norm was 61-year-old.

The first time I saw Norm MacDonald tell a joke it was during an old standup routine where he wondered about strange sports like cliff diving and how one might be able to judge them. “There are only a couple of different levels in cliff diving: Grand champion and then … stuff on a rock.” It’ll be down below for you to watch if you like. MacDonald stayed away from politics most of the time but would occasionally lean conservative. MacDonald was loved by many and considered by some to be the greatest post-Letterman standup comedian. His dry delivery, his ability to lean into the absurdity of audience expectations, and most importantly the kindness of his delivery, made for a concoction hard to replicate. It was the latter warmth that MacDonald was able to exude that endeared him to many.

Reactions poured out at the news from all across the internet.

I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I’m trying to avoid using the phrase, “twinkle in his eyes”). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget. Dave Letterman

— David Letterman (@Letterman) September 14, 2021

Here’s Norm being his best by going against the grain.

Damn. Norm Macdonald – legend – one of the funniest ever. Lots to choose from but this is maybe my favorite.

— Moshe Kasher (@moshekasher) September 14, 2021

Fellow Canuck Dave Foley.

Can’t believe Norm MacDonald is dead. First met him in the mid 80s. I thought he was way too funny to be successful. I was half right. My deep sympathy to his family, close friends and his fans. #ripNorm

— Dave Foley (@DaveSFoley) September 14, 2021

Norm MacDonald was a true GOAT. As a comic, as a talk show guest. A true original. He tweeted this to me as my dad was dying from cancer in 2014, “I’m just an idiot, Laurie but I found when I embraced the pain as tightly as I could it became love. I pray for you.” RIP Norm. 🇨🇦

— Laurie Kilmartin- Flappers Burbank Oct 1-2 (@anylaurie16) September 14, 2021

An iconic scene.

Norm MacDonald was a writer on Roseanne and he was responsible for Jackie’s iconic “Dad’s dead” moment, inspired by an experience in his own life.

— Kevin Daly (@kevinddaly) September 14, 2021

We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind.

— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 14, 2021

Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 14, 2021

One of the classics.

This absolutely sucks, but rest in peace to comedy legend, Norm MacDonald! A true comedian’s comedian. 🕊️🕊️

— BROTHER (@BrotherHQ) September 14, 2021

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

Thinking today about Norm Macdonald eulogizing Robin Williams, and what it’s like to keep losing giants

— Daniel Carlson (@danielwcarlson) September 14, 2021

Battling cancer for 9 years without telling anyone is the most Norm Macdonald shit ever.

— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) September 14, 2021

Take a bow, Norm.

— George Wallace (@MrGeorgeWallace) September 14, 2021

My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.

— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 14, 2021

RIP Norm MacDonald. I saw him perform live when I was in college. It was one of the most memorable performances I’ve ever seen. A complete mastery of standup comedy performance and an unparalleled passion for the art of writing jokes. Never met him. Love to his friends & family.

— Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) September 14, 2021

Nobody was funnier than @normmacdonald. He made comedians feel like we hadn’t even started doing comedy yet. No formulas, no pandering just purely what he thought was funny. Oh yeah, incidentally one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known.

— Greg Fitzsimmons (@GregFitzShow) September 14, 2021

And some memories of what made Norm so lovable.

The first time I saw Norm MacDonald do standup.

And here’s a little something about the news.

And because we can cry even when we are celebrating someone, watching MacDonald’s last appearance on David Letterman’s show will give an insight into the heart that made us love Norm MacDonald.

Finally, Norm MacDonald wrote a half-real, half-fake memoir, Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir. The last chapter begins like this:

There is the way things are and then the way things appear, and it is the way things appear, even when false, that is often the truest. If I am remembered, it will always be by the four years I spent at Saturday Night Live and, maybe even more than that, by the events surrounding my departure from that show. As long as SNL exists, then so do I.

Read the final pages below.

I think about these two and a half pages from Norm Macdonald’s book constantly. When I reviewed it, I wrote that they would “make for a fine eulogy”—and I swear I didn’t mean anything by it. But they do.

— Sean O’Neal (@seanoneal) September 14, 2021

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