Sarcastic comedian Norm MacDonald is best known from his mid-'90s stint on “Saturday Night Live,” where he regularly pilloried celebrities like O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson as a “Weekend Update” anchor and wickedly impersonated Burt Reynolds, Bob Dole and Larry King in sketches.
He was famously fired from the show, but went on to star in two sitcoms – including ABC's “The Norm Show” (1999-2001) – and had roles in a string of film comedies.
But MacDonald gets back to his first love – stand-up comedy – Tuesday at McGlohon Theatre.
“TV shows are good. Not as much fun as comedy, but easier,” says MacDonald, who's working on a pilot for a TV series on FX called “The New Norm MacDonald Show.”
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Next week's Carolinas show is a return to the Canadian comic's roots, in a roundabout sort of way.
“The first gig I ever did in the States was in Raleigh,” he said. “It was at a place called Charlie Goodnights'. … Even though I wasn't very good, some guy from the States wanted to be my agent and wanted to impress me by getting me a gig. He got me a gig in Raleigh because Kevin Nealon (canceled). He had flown out to be on ‘Saturday Night Live.'”
MacDonald doesn't harbor any ill will toward the show that made him a star. He still tunes in and praises “SNL's” recent election coverage.
“It was great. Well-deserved. I've watched it since I was a child. Along with ‘Letterman,' it was my favorite show. I think they do the best political humor for sure. They seem to nail the zeitgeist and crystallize it for us,” adds the 45-year-old, who ended his “SNL” run over a decade ago.
MacDonald sees the comedic landscape changing with a new administration.
“Barack's all cool. Everybody loves him and everybody's worried if they make any joke they'll look racist. That's going to be the big problem with this administration. Everybody's going to have to temper everything they say with the idea that they're not racist.
“This (administration) will be better, obviously,” he continues with trademark cynicism. “I know Barack ran on a campaign of hope – and that never works out in my experience, when you hope for something.”
Comedy's move away from politics isn't a bad thing, according to MacDonald.
“I find political comedy kind of boring. I find politics boring and think most people do. The jokes inevitably become ‘Reagan is old' and ‘Bush is an idiot' – just insulting the guy that happens to be president,” he says.
He also doesn't think comedy should be youth's substitute for news a la “The Daily Show.” “(Comedians) don't really know news like guys that are on news programs. That's what they do for a living. If that's where you got your news – from a comedy show like kids do now – you'd be retarded.”
A much bigger fan of sports than politics, MacDonald is hoping the Arizona Cardinals take the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“I'm sure they're deep underdogs, but I hope it happens,” he says, before catching himself. “There's the thing I derided earlier. It turns out I'm human like everyone else, and I do have hope.”