Norm. Normy. The Normster.
He was a staple of 1990s SNL. A former Weekend Update anchor, he developed a following based largely on his incredibly dry, deadpan delivery.
Half the time, what Norm has to say might not even be all that funny coming out of the mouth of a regular person but when Norm says it in his sardonic monotone, it’s comedy gold.
When I was growing up, there was a divergence of opinion vis a vis Norm, or at least there was one amongst the people I knew. Some, like me, found his droll wit hysterical. Others didn’t get him at all.
The people who didn’t get him tended to be squares. Coincidence? I think not.
Norm has always struck me as a comedian that a lot of people probably told him to not get into show biz. He’s not flashy. He’s not stylish. He’s not a hunk that all the ladies want to be with.
In his early days, he tried his hand at movies. “Dirty Work” is a cult classic and depending on who you ask, they’ll tell you it’s garbage or hysterical. I fall into the latter camp, but I also know someone who actually walked out of the theater twenty minutes into the movie. There just doesn’t seem to be a happy medium with the Normster. People either love him or hate him. Personally, I love the guy.
No, he never became the “It” guy that Hollywood would tap for box office gold. Far from it. Even so, he often shined as supporting characters in comedy films. Despite it all, he found a following and a long career thanks to a fan base of nerds who got him.
The man’s an inspiration to every nerd who ever tried his hand at comedy, wasn’t universally loved by anyone, but essentially said, “Eh, screw it. I’m here now. What else am I going to do?”
No, the man’s not a show horse. He’s a work horse. But hey, let’s face it. That horse pulling a cart is a lot more respectable than that pretty horse that just shows up to get his picture taken for the cover of “Horse Magazine.”
In many ways, I think if I were ever to become a stand-up comedian, I’d be a lot like Norm. “Hey everyone, here are my jokes, let me muddle through here and you’ll find the most comedy in my delivery, so let’s get this over with.”
And it was never lost on me that the best impressions he ever did were of people who had similar dry, “This is me, take it or leave it” personalities. Burt Reynolds. 1996 Presidential candidate Bob Dole. Larry King. Yikes. Blast from the past there. I know my high school buddies and I would walk around doing Norm’s Larry King impression, based on Larry’s USA Today column where he made incredibly obvious statements – “You know gang, when it comes to rape, I’m against it!”
Love is the name of the game with this comedy special, now available on Netflix. Ironic, because Norm never struck me as the sentimental type. But, as he points out, dogs are better than humans when it comes to love. They love their owners unconditionally, no matter what. Even Hitler had a dog that loved him.
It’s a little tough to see Norm has gotten older. It feels like it was just yesterday I was a teenager trying to explain to some stuck up girl why Norm MacDonald was funny.
Long story short. She didn’t get him…and I didn’t get any.
:::Pulls out my Norm MacDonald style mini-tape recorder::: “Note to self. Learn how to pick battles.”