Norm Macdonald: Comedians pay tribute after ‘all-time great’ and Saturday Night Live star dies, aged 61
Tributes have poured in for comedian Norm Macdonald after he died at the age of 61, having chosen never to publicly reveal the cancer he had battled for nine years.
The Canadian performer rose to fame during the 1990s when he joined the cast of US sketch show Saturday Night Live.
Despite becoming a popular host with his impressions of Burt Reynolds and David Letterman, he was sacked in 1998 over his repeated jokes about OJ Simpson.
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
He continued to be prove himself as a stand-up comic and poplar comedic guest on US talk shows, which even lead to David Letterman telling the Washington Post in 2016 he would have had Macdonald on every week “if we could”.
And his death, announced by his management firm Brillstein Entertainment Partners, prompted an outpouring of poignant tributes from fellow comedians.
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
Jim Carrey wrote on Twitter: “He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.”
Adam Sandler recalled Macdonald as being a “fearless funny original guy”.
He said: “Every one of us loved Norm. Some of the hardest laughs of my life with this man. Most fearless funny original guy we knew. An incredible dad. A great friend. A legend. Love u pal.”
Sarah Silverman added: “Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favour and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time.”
Talk show host Conan O’Brien said: “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.”
And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement honouring Macdonald, who grew up in Quebec City.
He said: “The world was a much funnier place because Norm Macdonald was in it. We’ve lost a comedic genius, and a great Canadian. Sending my condolences to his loved ones and countless fans mourning his passing.”
Steve Martin said: “We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind.”
Fellow actor Seth Rogen admitted he “ripped off” the delivery of the “comedy giant”.
Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) September 14, 2021
He said: “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 all time greats.”
British presenter James Corden described MacDonald as “one of the all-time great comics”.
While hosting his The Late Late Show, he said: “Some really sad news today, we have lost an absolute comedy legend, I’m sure you will have seen this in the news today – Norm Macdonald passed away today, far too soon, far too young, after a nine-year battle with cancer.
“A battle that Norm never told anybody about. Because all Norm ever wanted to do was make us laugh and he was absolutely brilliant at it.
“There was nobody quite like him. I felt privileged any time I got to be in his orbit. He leaves us as one of the all-time great comics, perhaps the single greatest guest in the history of late-night television.”
Saturday Night Live added in a statement: “Today is a sad day. All of us here at SNL mourn the loss of Norm Macdonald, one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation.
“There are so many things that we’ll miss about Norm – from his unflinching integrity to his generosity to his consistent ability to surprise. But most of all he was just plain funny. No one was funny like Norm.”
Back in 2011, MacDonald said he felt it was wrong to say you “lost your battle” with cancer when you died
He added: “I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that if you die, the cancer also dies at exactly the same time.
“That, to me, is not a loss. That’s a draw.”
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