Norm MacDonald, who was one of my very favorite comedians growing up (and who I saw perform in Philadelphia just a few years back) has always been known for his offbeat style of comedy. In more recent years, however, he has been more notorious for his eccentricity which — while not necessarily a bad thing — makes for an outstanding Reddit AMA (which coincides with the return of his web series).
The first thing you need to know about Norm MacDonald’s Reddit AMA is that Norm MacDonald does not do Reddit AMA the way most people do Reddit AMAs. MacDonald had Victoria Larkin of Reddit “help” him with the AMA questions, which means that basically Larkin asks him questions which she then transcribes like a court reporter. It also means that, to Norm, he’s just having a friendly Q&A with this Victoria person and addresses her as such. I genuinely don’t know if this is intentional or not. But therein lies the beauty of Norm MacDonald, so let’s jump in, shall we?
Your Burt Reynolds is is the best impersonation in SNL history, did Burt find it funny?
Yes, he phoned me and told me he wanted to come on the show, because I did celebrity Jeopardy as Burt Reynolds. His idea was to come on the show, punch me in the face, replace me and then be even stupider. He talked to me on the phone, and he was even funnier in real life, he would just laugh all the time.
(Note: While this AMA style doesn’t allow for much follow up Q&A, according to another Redditor this never came to fruition because he was fired that same week — which he talks about in this later SNL monologue when they had him back to host.)
Hey Norm! What are your thoughts on Artie Lange these days.. Would you ever consider doing a Dirty Work 2?? Huge fan!
Yes. Wait, what? Yes, I would consider doing a Dirty Work 2. But there’s so much involved. I should start a kickstarter. Because the problem is Dirty Work 1 lost so much money the movie studio had to shut down. MGM had a huge loss in their quarter, and the stock owners fled, and boy, you hear a lot about that on your answering machine. So I don’t know if they want to make another one. But Artie is always hilarious.
Hi Norm, my two brothers and I grew up in the 90’s and would stay up late every saturday to watch you on Update. We went on to obsess over Dirty Work and memorized it word for word. Can you share your favourite (or least favourite) memory during the making of the film? Thanks! #LateLateNormNorm
Oh yes, my favorite memory of the movie was Chris Farley, because we had him play a guy whose nose was bit off by a Saigon whore. So he did all the scenes with no nose, and he would improvise all his dialogue, he would ask first if it was alright, and I would say “sure,” because he was just the funniest guy ever. It was really sad with Chris because he would always say he wanted to be as funny as John Belushi, and I would say that he funnier than John Belushi, but he never knew how funny he was. Sad.
Where is the strangest place someone has recognized you?
Well, let me answer this by asking a question: when I was on SNL, I played Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy. One time, he (being me, playing he) refused to be called “Burt Reynolds” because he had changed his name to “Turd Ferguson.” So Alex Trebec had to call him “Turd Ferguson” that became a little cult thing. So one time, i was in a very crowded street, and the street was 5th Avenue, which you know, at lunchtime how crowded it was, and there were hundreds of people watching as a gentleman yelled at me “HEY TURD!” and I said “Thank you! Thank you!” And I always wondered what sort of relationship those people thought me and that fellow had.
Have you ever considered bringing back Turd Ferguson and giving him his own TV show?
Hahaha. What are the chances that question would come up?
Someone should write a Smokey & the Bandit sequel and have me in it doing Burt Reynolds. It seems like it would be illegal, but I think it would be amazing.
During your time as an SNL cast member, what was your favorite character to play?
Well, here’s what I did, Victoria. Any sketch I would write, I would call my character “Stan Hooper” and he didn’t really do anything, you know? And I would be very careful to name him Stan Hooper, and then have someone in the sketch say “Hey Stan Hooper” and one time I read a list of recurring characters and Stan Hooper was way up there. And of all the characters he had no real qualities of any kind. Just a bland empty vessel of a man.
Did you ever meet Carrot Top after your infamous Conan appearance?
Oh yes. Because one time I was on Conan, and I made fun of Carrot Top, I didn’t do it on purpose, but this girl said she was in a Carrot Top movie, which sort of shocked me when she said it. I reacted the same way anyone would upon finding out that Carrot Top had movie. Anyways, they didn’t tell me that but by the way, but later they were going to invent something where this would live forever, they forgot to tell me that. So I met Scott after that, he was a really nice guy, I already knew him and apologized. So it was funny.
If you’ve never seen the single greatest Norm MacDonald clip of all time, it’s never too late:
I read your tweets about Roseanne Barr today and I was wondering if you wanted to elaborate about what a genius she is and why Hollywood is so tough for innovative thinkers.
I was just on twitter talking about Roseanne because she gave mea first job, and I thought of her and Chappelle who I have both worked with, and who have both been called “Difficult” or “crazy.” And that word crazy when it’s applied to an entertainer can torpedo their career. One time I was on a show, and I wanted to get Burt Reynolds to play my father, and the director said “You don’t want Burt Reynolds, he’s crazy.” I said “I don’t want you to be my director. I want Burt Reynolds.” So crazy just means creative. And difficult just means hardworking, and opinionated. And Roseanne was a victim to this specifically because she was a woman, which is very sad. But that’s all I was saying.
With the Twitterverse exploding with support for you to take over for Craig Ferguson would you consider doing it if asked? And if you did take over what direction would you take the show in? Would it be more weekend updatey? Follow up question: waffles, pancakes or crepes?
This is an interesting number of questions, Victoria. Who was it that said: If nominated, I will not run, if Elected, I will not serve? Whoever it was, they were an idiot. If nominated, I will run, and if elected, I will serve.
But as we know, television is not a democracy but an oligarchy. They don’t hire a lot of guys who run around saying oligarchy. Many times a boss will call me and say “I’ll have to let you go” and I’ll say “Why” and they’ll say “Well you sell more than everybody else at the plant, but you’ve been saying Oligarchy in the break room too much at lunch. In fact the suggestion box is filled with pieces of paper that complain about that.” And I’ll say “well sir, Oligarchy, holy fuck” and then I know it’s time to pack up my duffle bag and hit the lonely road.
I like chicken and crepes.
How do you think the internet will change comedy? How do you think it will change entertainment in general? Do you think the ability to independently upload anything you create is a good thing?
I think the big problem with the internet when it comes to comedy is it requires too much content, and supply and demand does not work with comedy. And success goes to the ones that give the most content, but the content would be, there’ll be a precise algorithm between amounts and mediocrity of content. So that’s how I think the internet demands too much input of a comedian. And the successful ones will be the worst ones. I’m doing JASH, a video podcast, which is like a tv show that is only on the computer. And it’s about time there was a place to put tv shows other than the TV, I’ve always said!
Norm you’ve talked about the perfect joke being where the setup and punchline are identical. Have you ever come up with one?
Yes, the joke is “Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts were divorced today. The reason: he’s Lyle Lovett and she’s Julia Roberts.” That’s the closest one.
I tried really hard to find a clip of this joke because I remembered it and it killed. The internet odds were not my favor today though, sadly.
I love the joke about Bill Cosby calling your dad. Did you ever talk to Cosby again after that?
Oh yes, that wasn’t a joke, but what happened, Victoria, was, I opened for Bill Cosby. I told him my dad was a big fan. He said he would have my dad backstage when he went to Ottawa where my dad lives. But my dad has been dead for 15 years. So he asks me for my dad’s phone number, and i Just write some numbers down on a piece of paper. He was such a nice guy, I didn’t want to say he was dead. So I did hear from Cosby after that, because Cosby is so nice, I told that story one time on Letterman and the next day at SNL I received like 200 things of flowers, and then about 2 weeks later I found on one flower way in the back a little card and it was from Bill Cosby and it said “I’m sorry to inform you from this, but your dad is long since dead.” He was very funny and nice also.