Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald dead at 61

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.

This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.


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