Canadian comedian and a one-time SNL cast member and host Norm Macdonald have died at the age of 61 after a prolonged battle with cancer. Norm Macdonald became famous for his laconic delivery of sharp and incisive commentary and observations, which made him one of Saturday Night Live’s most influential and beloved cast. He spent the last nine years battling cancer.
In a statement released by his management firm, Brillstein Entertainment, Macdonald’s death was announced to Deadline. Speaking on the subject, the comedian’s longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra (who was with him when he died) said Macdonald had been battling cancer for nearly a decade but decided to keep his health struggles private away from family, friends and fans. “He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said. Explaining how the comedian never let the diagnosis affect how his audience or loved ones saw him and maintained his status as a “pure comic” throughout his nine-year battle. “He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.” Hoekstra concludes.
Macdonald was scheduled to be in the New York Comedy Festival lineup in November.
In an illustrious career spanning several decades, Macdonald made a name for himself as a Saturday Night Live cast member from 1993–1998, delivering his most significant impact as the anchor of the show’s “Weekend Update” segment for three consecutive seasons. He is remembered for his witty style and famous refusal to go easy on O.J. Simpson despite reported pressure from NBC executives. During his stint on SNL, Macdonald proved himself as one of the most impactful “Update” anchors. His style was a pivot from the slapstick approach of Chevy Chase and inclined towards the more barbed political approach of his successor, Colin Quinn.
Norm Macdonald’s death has been described as a massive blow to the creative and entertainment industry, and he is believed to have left behind big shoes that will be hard to fill by just anybody.
Early in his career in the entertainment industry, Macdonald wrote for the sitcom Roseanne followed by a five-year stint as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (SNL). He anchored the Weekend Update segment for three seasons. This period also saw him make guest appearances on shows such as The Drew Carey Show and NewsRadio. He made his film debut in 1998 after leaving SNL, starring in Dirty Work (1998) and his sitcom, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001.
After years of features on TV and films, in 2013, Macdonald started a video podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, interviewing comedians and other celebrities. In 2018, he released the Norm Macdonald Has a Show, a Netflix talk show similar to his podcast.
Throughout his career, he appeared in numerous movies. In addition, he was a regular on talk shows such as Conan, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Howard Stern Show, with many considering him to be the best late-night comedy guest of all time. He was also a voice actor, most frequently in the animated series Mike Tyson Mysteries.