Famed comedian and beloved “Saturday Night Live” cast member Norm Macdonald has passed away at the age of 61. Macdonald was reportedly privately battling cancer for nine years before his passing.
A friend of Macdonald’s, Lori Jo Hoekstra, said the “Weekend Update” anchor “had been fighting cancer for nearly a decade but was determined to keep his struggle away from family, friends and fans,” the New York Post reported.
“He was most proud of his comedy,” said Hoekstra, who was with Macdonald when he passed. “He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. 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.”
As highlighted by Page Six, the Quebec City native wrote for the show “Roseanne,” appeared on “The Drew Carey Show,” and then become a household name with his deadpan humor for SNL’s “Weekend Update.” In 1998, he was fired from the show and appeared in multiple movies.
Macdonald, who never graduated high school, published a book in 2016 based on his life, titled, “Based on a True Story: Not a Memoir.”
“The scariest [part about writing a book] is I have no education and so I really feel like to be a good writer, you need education,” the comedian told Page Six at the time. “My son has [an] education. He’s a much better writer than I am, and he’s only 20.”
Most recently, the comic hosted a Netflix show aptly titled, “Norm Macdonald Has A Show.”
In 2019, Macdonald notably targeted cancel culture when SNL fired comedian Shane Gillis from the cast.
“Of course you know, this means WAR,” Macdonald wrote on Twitter at the time, captioning a report on Gillis’ firing. The post become Macdonald’s “pinned” tweet for some time.
When news hit the internet of Macdonald’s passing, social media blew up with memories from the comedian’s work.
Writer David Gardner notably recalled a comment from Macdonald concerning battles with cancer. “I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss. That’s a draw,” the comedian said in a stand-up special.
Norm MacDonald on battles with cancer: “I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss. That’s a draw.”
— David Gardner (@byDavidGardner) September 14, 2021
Fellow comedians weighed in on the death, Monday.
“I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedy voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny,” said Conan O’Brien. “I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.”
“Oh f***,” wrote Seth Rogen. “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.”
“In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best. An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you,” wrote David Letterman. “I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I’m trying to avoid using the phrase, “twinkle in his eyes”). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget.”
Comedian Jim Gaffigan said, “Oh my God. We lost a legend. Norm was punishingly funny. A unique special point of view and completely organic. RIPNormMacDonald.”
“No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. F*** cancer,” Jon Stewart wrote.
“We loved Norm Macdonald,” posted Steve Martin. “One of a kind.”
A previous version of this article misspelled the comedian’s name as Seth Rogan. He is Seth Rogen.