Norm Macdonald Thinks This Is The Closest He’s Come To Telling The Perfect Joke

Senior Pop Culture Editor
08.31.18 8 Comments

NBC

Turd Ferguson is great. The interview-hijackings are great. “The Moth Joke” is great. Dirty Work is great. Norm Macdonald is great, and in a fascinating profile with the New York Times, the comedian opened up about his compulsive gambling (“Although he spoke candidly about his tendency to gamble in problematic ways, he hasn’t quit”) and how he felt uncomfortable sticking around for the curtain call and cast parties during his SNL days (“Instead, he would take the studio-provided limo to Atlantic City and play craps”).

The whole thing is worth a read, but the most interesting passage might be Macdonald’s “Platonic form of a joke.” (It’s not Chairman of the Bored,” but it could/should be. Poor Courtney Thorne-Smith still hasn’t recovered.)

Two decades later, he has yet to recapture the fame he enjoyed when he left [SNL]. To his thinking, though, he has moved steadily closer to his own ideal of what comedy can or should be. Macdonald speaks often about a kind of Platonic form of a joke whose punch line is identical to its setup. He feels he came close in 1995 on “Weekend Update”: “Julia Roberts told reporters this week that her marriage to Lyle Lovett has been over for some time,” he said, as a picture of the country singer’s asymmetrical face appeared behind him. “The key moment, she said, came when she realized that she was Julia Roberts, and that she was married to Lyle Lovett.” (Via)

You can watch the joke at the end of this clip.

Macdonald’s “Weekend Update” stint came to an ignominious end when he was removed as an anchor (he believes it had something to do with his repeated jokes about O.J. Simpson). But he would have remained in the position until he was 65 years old, “and just take the money as it exists, and never ask for a raise.” But SNL honcho Lorne Michaels “didn’t like that idea,” Macdonald said.

The real reason Norm’s idea was shot down? You guessed it. Frank Stallone.

(Via the New York Times)

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