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The former SNL star had been privately battling cancer for the past nine years, according to press reports
Comedians, comedy fans, television viewers, and many more are in shock and mourning after news broke today that Norm Macdonald, who made audiences laugh with his deadpan delivery of wry and incisive observations, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 61.
The Canadian comedian, who was born in Quebec City in 1959, had been privately battling cancer for the past nine years, according to news reports.
Macdonald’s management firm Brillstein Entertainment confirmed the star’s death to Deadline.
“He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him,” his producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra told the outlet. “Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
After performing at comedy clubs in Canada, Macdonald began as a screenwriter for the TV sitcom Roseanne in 1992.
He then rose to fame as a cast member of Saturday Night Live, starting in 1993, alongside the likes of Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, former Kids In The Hall star Mark McKinney, and others.
On SNL, Macdonald became best known as an anchor on the fake news segment Weekend Update and for his impressions of Burt Reynolds (particularly in Celebrity Jeopardy skits).
After his departure from SNL in 1998, Macdonald went on to star in the TV series The Norm Show, did voice work (the Dr. Doolittle movie series, Bell Mobility ads in Canada), and hosted the podcast Norm Macdonald Live.
Many celebrities, including Seth Rogen, expressed their sadness and condolences on social media, as well as their appreciation for Macdonald’s unique style.
Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 14, 2021
I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) September 14, 2021
NOOOOO GODDAMIT. Oh my God what is even happening.— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) September 14, 2021
Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious. https://t.co/loW3QsEjgW
Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) September 14, 2021
My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him.— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) September 14, 2021
I am in shock. Sad shock. Norm MacDonald was one of the funniest people ever. And in such an original way. It seemed like he would live forever. And it was always an amazing experience to bump into him over the years. I can’t believe that won’t ever happen again.— Kevin MCDonald (@kevinthekith) September 14, 2021
Can’t believe Norm MacDonald is dead. First met him in the mid 80s. I thought he was way too funny to be successful. I was half right. My deep sympathy to his family, close friends and his fans. #ripNorm— Dave Foley (@DaveSFoley) September 14, 2021
Norm MacDonald was the comic who could find the funny in anything no matter how tragic. I’m sure he had a great take on his own untimely death but that’s beyond me. I’ll miss running into him at various comedy do’s. No matter who was there he was always the funniest in the room.— Scott Thompson (@ScottThompson_) September 14, 2021
This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.