Norm Macdonald – Something Special

After battling leukemia privately for nine years (he quipped in 2011 that he disliked when people used the term “battling” in conjunction wth cancer, implying that those who survived were somehow more heroic than those who didn’t), comedian Norm Macdonald died last September at the age of 61.

Before his death, Norm recorded a Netflix comedy set in his home that is now out, titled: “Nothing Special”. There’s an oxymoron if you’ve ever heard one. Although Chevy Chase was the originator of blatantly Fake News on Saturday Night Live, Norm put his unique imprimatur on the segment which popularized his wit and intellect. That deadpan voice. The perfectly timed comedic pauses. The frequently punctuated rhetorical “you know” in that Canadian lilt.

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It figures that it would be a Grimm writer informing us about Norm’s bittersweet final set appearing posthumously as the Netflix Nothing Special: “In one take, he goes through a typically nutty set of his observational humor. It’s delivered in that strange Norm MacDonald style that combines intelligent asides with intentional ignorance, such as when he purposefully mispronounces words or routinely plays stupid on things in which he’s obviously schooled. It’s his shtick, and it was always a winning shtick.”

When learning of Norm’s passing, Dave (formerly David) Letterman tweeted: “Always up to something, never certain until his matter-of-face delivery leveled you/I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze”. It was fitting that Norm would be among the final guests on Letterman’s Late Night Show, as he credits Dave for being the motivating force behind his going into comedy in the first place. It was a brilliant and emotional set, showing how special he truly was.

One of Macdonald’s last appearances before his death was on his YouTube show, “Quarantined with Norm Macdonald,” in an episode featuring special guest Roseanne Barr. It was a bittersweet reunion with Barr, for whom he was a comedy writer, and at the end of the segment musing about coronavirus he drops in the last lines of the TS Eliot poem The Hollow Men with perfectly timed pregnant pauses:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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1 Response to Norm Macdonald – Something Special

  1. doctuhdon says:

    He was brilliant as Weekend Update anchor

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