Remembering Norm Macdonald's Late Night Genius

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Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images
Photo credit: NBC - Getty Images

When it comes to prolific Weekend Update hosts, there are few that fit the bill as perfectly as Norm Macdonald. His influence on Saturday Night Live and the Weekend Update desk remains unmatched—his dry humour and focus on skewering those involved in current events changed the tone of Weekend Update, ushering it into an era that current hosts still emulate. The SNL alum died on Tuesday, following a nine-year battle with cancer. He was 61. Deadline reports that the comedian tried to keep his battle with cancer private, particularly from the public eye.

While Macdonald's five-year run on SNL (three years at the Weekend Update desk) may be the first thing that fans think of when it comes to Macdonald's legacy, he had a long-spanning comedy career, ranging from stand up comedian to writer on Roseanne in the early '90s. Following SNL, he starred in his own sitcom, as well as a talk show on Netflix.

Before Saturday Night Live or any of his other accolades, he also endeared himself to late night hosts, debuting on The David Letterman Show in 1990.

It was there that he solidified his charm, becoming a staple guest on late night shows across the board. Macdonald became a favourite of Letterman and Conan, in particular—always available to spin an unwieldy story bound to crack up the host. Sure, he has a whole library of SNL characters, but if anything sums up the wit and charm of Macdonald, it's all of his guest spots over the years.

One of the things about Macdonald was that even if he was telling an absurdly long joke, he had a way of making it feel like every throwaway detail was worth listening to.

Even his admittedly offensive jokes had a way of coming across as charming, though clearly, he was set on telling the joke regardless.

Part of the reason he thrived on late night shows is because Macdonald was one of the few comedians who could keep up with whichever host he was going toe to toe against.

He also had a reputation for saving interviews that weren't particularly going well, like this one with Melrose Place's Courtney Thorne-Smith.

The true mark of a funny person is the ability to make another comedian laugh. Macdonald never struggled with that, either.

Also, never forget the time he called Hitler a "dork."

And had a way of keeping up with the news in... a way no one else did. Example: this diatribe on South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

And though he may be gone, we'll always have the never ending rabbit hole of Macdonald's late night guest spots.

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