Today, following a nearly decade-long private battle with cancer, beloved comedian Norm Macdonald died. And we say “beloved” because that’s exactly what he was: Macdonald wasn’t the sort of stand-up who people liked, he was the sort of stand-up (and talk show guest) who people loved. People were in awe of him, whether it was because of his timing or his cleverness, even as those same traits had a habit of pushing people—and a high-profile job at Saturday Night Live—away. Part of what drew people to Norm Macdonald was that being on his wavelength felt special, like you were seeing things in a different way from everyone else, and Macdonald used that to build a career on being funny in a way that nobody else was. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that a number of people took to social media to express their appreciation for Macdonald with specific stories about what he meant to them.
Writer Brent Piaskoski has a story about seeing a then-up-and-coming Macdonald in Toronto that ends with the comedian refusing to stop saying the word “sack” just to annoy some hecklers:
Will Sloan also has fond memories of a night when Macdonald wouldn’t stop doing jokes about death, leading to an elaborate, on-the-spot gag about how he’d hang himself:
Seth Rogen noted that he consciously ripped off Norm Macdonald’s famous deadpan delivery when he first started acting, which says a lot about Macdonald’s “beloved” status given how little patience the general entertainment industry (unjustly) seemed to have for the real Macdonald:
Gravity Falls creator Alex Hirsch is compiling obscure Norm Macdonald clips, starting with a sequence from ABC’s The Norm Show in which Macdonald gets involved in a Pokémon battle that—regardless of any context—is absolutely wild. Comedy Bang Bang host Scott Aukerman has a very funny story about Macdonald shrugging off the end of a comedy set on his Instagram. Dan Ryckert, a video game streamer (among many other things) and noted Norm Macdonald fan, has also assembled his favorite memories, including the many times he met Macdonald and his love for the complete collapse of the comedian’s relationship with a sponsor on Norm Macdonald Live.
Former A.V. Club editor (but lifetime A.V. Club member, if that’s an honor we can bestow) Sean O’Neal shared a few pages from Macdonald’s gleefully fabricated memoir that “would make for a fine eulogy” (he’s not wrong, they’re very touching) and added a funny anecdote about not getting to interview Macdonald once. Questlove, over on his Twitter, went deep on one of Norm Macdonald’s most brilliant performances: his knowingly hacky routine at Comedy Central’s Roast Of Bob Saget. Questlove compares it to a “daredevil stunt.”
A couple of Norm Macdonald’s favorite punchlines also joined in on celebrating the brilliant comedian, with Bob Dole—who Macdonald played on SNL—tweeting a photo of the two of them together and saying, as a nod to Macdonald’s impression, “*Bob Dole* will miss Norm Macdonald.” But there’s one longtime but of Macdonald’s joke who deserves a special acknowledgement: You guessed it… Frank Stallone. On Instagram, Stallone expressed his sadness that he never got to do SNL with Macdonald, saying the comedian was “an original and very funny.”