Former Saturday Night Live star Norm Macdonald has died of cancer aged 61.
Macdonald’s long-time producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra confirmed the news in a statement, which revealed the comedy great had privately been living cancer for more than nine years.
“He was most proud of his comedy. He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic,” it read. “He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
Ever since the news of the Macdonald’s passing broke yesterday, a slew of celebrities have taken to social media to pay tribute to the Canadian comic, who was an SNL cast member between 1993-98.
“RIP Norm Macdonald,” Taskmaster’s Greg Davies tweeted.
RIP Norm Macdonald.— Greg Davies (@gdavies) September 14, 2021
Monty Python’s John Cleese added: “There are very few really funny people. Norm Macdonald was one of them. It’s infuriating to learn that his comedy was interfered with by the usual clueless executives.”
Cleese is likely referring to the fact that Macdonald often clashed with NBC bosses during his time on SNL due to his lambasting of OJ Simpson, despite pressure from execs linked to the footballer.
He later told The New York Times Magazine he rejected the OJ hypothesis, instead believing he was fired from SNL for his material. “We were doing experimental stuff, non sequiturs,” he said. “Ohlmeyer would watch Leno kill every night for 15 minutes. Every joke, huge laughs, and then I’d do 10 minutes a week and sometimes not get laughs.”
Late Night with Seth Meyer posted a video in which fellow SNL alum Meyers honoured Macdonald’s legacy.
“I do not think that Norm would want to hear anything sentimental, but I would like to say a few of my favourite things that I heard Norm say over the years,” Meyers said, before saying Macdonald “was the gold standard.”
Actors Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey also took to twitter following the news.
Carrey said: “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.”
“Every one of us loved Norm,” Sandler tweeted. “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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/2Pftw28uPc— Adam Sandler (@AdamSandler) 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,” added Conan O’Brien.
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
Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman also paid tribute to Macdonald, saying “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.”
“I am distraught at the death of @normmacdonald. He has been there or thereabouts my favourite comedian for many years. Here he is, young, beautiful and f*****g hilarious. RIP Norm,” David Baddiel tweeted, alongside a picture of Macdonald.
Baddiel has also shared screenshots of Macdonald’s biography, Based on a True Story.
Good Omens writer Neil Gaiman also paid tribute to Macdonald, and revealed the comedian had reached out for advice five years ago.
As well as a stellar career in comedy, Macdonald had recurring roles in Netflix’s Girl Boss, ABC’s The Middle , My Name Is Earl, The Larry Sanders Show, and many more.