Before I got to talk to Norm here in Las Vegas, I was in Florida once and I didn’t see this one show he did at a private religious university but what I was told later was:
Norm was doing so badly with these religious students that he just said:
“You know, my contract says I have to stand up here for 45 minutes, so I’m just gonna stand here until 45 minutes are up.“
And then he looked at his watch and waited until the 45 minutes were up and then left.
That’s the way it was told to me by a publicist or somebody that was associated with that university, and I laughed and then I said:
“That Norm is a genius.”
And she goes:
“I had to walk around with him all day, I wouldn’t call him a genius.”
But I think that’s where a lot of people don’t totally get Norm’s genius. His genius was him being ridiculous. I think one of his albums was called “Ridiculous.”
I don’t think he made any bones about the fact he was ridiculous. Very often I don’t make any bones about being ridiculous. I enjoy it. Sometimes I feel like a performing monkey, and you know, that doesn’t feel super great. But I definitely feel ridiculous. So I love Norm.
Norm was my favorite “SNL” character of all time, and one of my all-time top five interviews. Over and over, we talked so many times.
And then all day today, I kept thinking:
“Should I do something about Norm? Should I do some kind of obituary type thing? Some type of remembrance?“
And I just felt like it would be wrong. I just kept thinking it would be wrong. But then I thought it would be my last chance to say:
You know, Norm Macdonald died today and we didn’t even know he was sick. He died of cancer. I’ve been gutted all day by it. I kept thinking I’m just gonna do some work.
And you know, it’s fucking weird when famous people die and you feel effected. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
But the thing with Norm is, I talked to him a bunch. And I’m not saying I was his best friend or whatever, or one of his poker buddies. I never hung out with him and played poker or did anything. He didn’t drink or do drugs, that’s what he said, I guess he was telling the truth.
He was a real sweetheart guy.
One time I was talking to this guy who started a charity, and I said how did you start the charity? And he said: I moved to Los Angeles, and I was rolling around in my wheelchair, and I was going down this one street, and I saw Norm Macdonald, and I ran into him, and I said, Norm I’ve always wanted to be in entertainment, can you get me into entertainment? And Norm goes, no I can’t get you in but I’ll give you somebody who can.
And Norm hooked up this random guy who ran into him in a wheelchair with Sam Simon of “The Simpsons,” one of the greatest show producers of all time, and probably my favorite interview I ever did with anybody that was in charge of shows, Sam Simon was incredible. And then Sam helped that guy in the wheelchair create this charity. And that charity would come to Vegas every year and they would raise money for this charity.
And then Norm would go. And one time, the guy in the wheelchair who started that charity was sitting next to Norm and Norm goes, “Hey I’m gonna go to the bathroom” or something, and then said “here watch my money, here’s my chips.” And the guy in the wheelchair who started the charity, Jacob Zalewski, lost a lot of this money and then Norm came back and said, “Hey! You lost my money!”
But Norm didn’t care. Norm told me once that every time he came to Vegas he would win a bunch of money or lose a bunch of money, but one time he was up $186,000 and then it was time for him to go get a plane. So he took that money, he took the chips, he took $186,000 in chips off the table, he was playing table games, he sticks it in his luggage, and then he flies to Los Angeles, puts the chips in the freezer, $186,000 in gambling chips, in a freezer in Norm Macdonald’s house in Los Angeles.
And then he quit playing table games, he claimed, for 2 1/2 years. But then I talked to him after that and he said:
“Ah I’ve got all these chips in my freezer so I guess the next time I go back to Vegas, I guess I’m just going to gamble!“
Norm told my very favorite Las Vegas joke. He goes:
“If you’re the prettiest woman in Des Moines Iowa, they’ll build a statue in your honor. But if you move to Las Vegas, you’re a cocktail waitress.“
And that’s not a joke against Des Moines or Iowa or cocktail waitresses or any of that. The joke is very contextual to Las Vegas which is, if you go to Encore Beach Club or someplace like that in Las Vegas, the women are the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen in your entire life. I was at Encore once in the VIP section, I’m not trying to brag that’s just where I was, and the entirety of Victoria’s Secret models came in and I saw Victoria’s Secret models being served by the cocktailers … who were way hotter than the Victoria’s Secret models. That’s how pretty women are in Vegas. So that’s my favorite Las Vegas joke, this Des Moines Iowa joke that Norm Macdonald told.
I’m sure Norm would probably be upset that I’m even telling you why the joke is funny, but you kinda have to know Vegas. He told that joke to me, or an audience in Vegas, and Vegas people knew what was going on.
I never asked Norm about his dating life or any of that stuff. I don’t know why. I guess because Norm seemed so asexual in a way. I just never looked at him and thought, he really gets around. He had a kid so I guess he did. I don’t know. I don’t know who his person was.
Do you know what’s really crazy is, Norm told me once he doesn’t have a driver's license and he thought he would have one before his son but he didn’t. And someday he planned to get one but I don’t think he ever did. I think it was too late for him. My sister doesn’t have a driver's license either which I don’t understand. But Norm showed his green card because he’s from Canada.
So here’s Norm with no driver’s license and he gets a job on TV in ads promoting auto insurance.
And then after that he was in a movie with Dave Chapelle where he had to be in a car, it was a scene where he had to be in a car but he couldn’t drive. So they put him in the driver seat and they attached the car to a truck and the truck was pulling the car. So he was just sitting there at the steering wheel … and he fell asleep. And then the director didn’t even notice until they were looking at the dailies.
I love that Norm. I don’t know what else to say about Norm. I think it sucks that he’s dead and I hope we cure cancer at some point.
Funniest guy on “SNL.”
Not the most talented guy on SNL.
But the funniest.