Howard Remembers Iconic Comedian and Stern Show Regular Norm Macdonald

“The world really lost a comedy legend yesterday,” he says of the former “SNL” star

September 15, 2021

The world lost a comedy icon Tuesday when stand-up comedian, actor, and former “Saturday Night Live” star Norm Macdonald died from cancer, an illness he kept private for many years.

Wednesday morning, Howard and co-host Robin Quivers spoke warmly of Norm, a frequent and favorite Stern Show guest who first started visiting in the 1990s. “I didn’t know Norm personally … but I did feel a closeness to him because he’d been on the show so many times,” Howard said. “He was just so damn funny.”

Starting out his stand-up career in his native Canada before relocating to Los Angeles, one of Macdonald’s first big breaks was appearing on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1990. A favorite of the host, he would give the final stand-up performance on the “Late Show” before Letterman retired in 2015.

Macdonald was eventually hired as a writer on “Roseanne,” but it was at “Saturday Night Live” where he truly broke out, starring on the show for five seasons beginning in 1993 and anchoring the “Weekend Update” segment for three of them. “He was great at it with that deadpan delivery,” Howard said of Norm’s time behind the “Weekend Update” desk before praising his impression of actor Burt Reynolds. “When I would watch Burt Reynolds on talk shows, every time he was about to tell a punchline or something, Burt Reynolds had this tick … he picked up that little nuance and I loved it.”

While Norm was fired from “SNL” in 1998—supposedly for making too many jokes at the expense of O.J. Simpson, a friend of then NBC president Don Ohlmeyer—it was Macdonald who got the last laugh when he hosted the show just 18 months later. “How did I go, in a year and a half, from being not funny to be even allowed in the building to being so funny that I’m now hosting the show?” he wondered during his monologue. “How did I get so damn funny?”

After “Saturday Night Live,” Macdonald went on to star in the cult favorite film “Dirty Work,” the ABC comedy “Norm,” and eventually “Norm Macdonald Has a Show” on Netflix, not to mention countless acclaimed appearances on talk shows.

“He was a great talk show guest,” Robin marveled after hearing a clip of one of his many appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

“The world really lost a comedy legend yesterday,” Howard responded. “I feel like he didn’t get enough credit. I think he was that good.”