Norm MacDonald Discusses All Things Comedy
Former ...Weekend Update... Anchor Releases CD of Comedic Sketches
By George Marzloff
nd Benjamin P. Gleitzman
Norm MacDonald, known for his role in “Weekend Update” of “Saturday Night Live” and as Mitch from the movie “Dirty Work,” jumps back into the public eye with “Ridiculous,” a sketch comedy CD featuring skits performed with SNL cast members and friends. Recently The Tech called MacDonald to discuss his new CD, the changing face of comedy, and why he’s still a stand-up comedian at heart.
TT: How did you come up with your unique style?
NM: I really can’t act, but I’m good at stand-up. My favorite comedians are Richard Pryor and George Carlin, but the one guy I like now is Bryan Regan. It’s good to have a guy of my generation that I can idolize.
TT: What did SNL teach you as a writer?
NM: SNL taught me how to write sketches. A sketch should just be one joke, strong enough that you can have different variations. Classic sketches on SNL, like “The Coneheads,” were single joke sketches.
TT: Do you plan on doing any college shows for the album?
NM: I love doing colleges, but I don’t have anything specifically attached to the album. [College students] are the most receptive audience because they don’t have all these stupid ways of thinking. I always feel comfortable about college kids.
TT: What are your plans for the future?
NM: I wrote a movie for Sony here in Los Angeles called “Court Appointed Attorney.” It’s so goddamn funny. I wrote it so I wouldn’t be the star of the movie. For “Dirty Work” I didn’t want to be the star — I always wanted to give myself a small role. The funniest guys are the [real] actors.
TT: What’s the best thing about being Norm MacDonald?
NM: I get to do and say whatever I want.
TT: Do Germans still love David Hasselhoff?
NM: [chuckles] I have been working on a series [of jokes] for years that Germans love David Hasselhoff. I don’t think Germans care. It shouldn’t be an age-old debate.
TT: How do you feel about your older movies such as “Dirty Work”?
NM: It’s definitely the only movie that I like that I ever did. I’ve done a lot of bad movies. [In “Happy Gilmore,” Adam] Sandler just said “Can you be drunk all the time?” I just got really drunk the entire movie, and whenever I see it I always have to watch it — because I’m so drunk.
TT: Did “Weekend Update” inspire your gambling sportscaster persona?
NM: “Weekend Update” didn’t inspire it. I used to be a compulsive gambler. I’d get angry and scream at the sportscaster.
TT: Why do you think they released you from SNL?
NM: The president of NBC didn’t like me. He was good friends with O.J. [Simpson]. I would go on “Weekend Update” and do ten O.J. jokes in a row. He didn’t think I was funny. I did “[Weekend] Update” in a weird way. I didn’t care if the audience didn’t fucking laugh. Some jokes would not work at all. I would make it worse by staring at the audience for 10 seconds. The president of NBC wanted a more audience-friendly tone.
TT: If you make another comedy CD, who would you work with?
NM: I’ve got some new buddies. I have a lot of stuff [left over] from the other album, so I wish it could have been more like 3 hours. It was very hard to choose.
TT: What track is your favorite on the CD?
NM: The track I like the most, because it’s the gentlest one, is “The Fantastic Four.” It brings back good memories because my brother and I would always do that sketch. Just another example of corporate corruption.
TT: Do you have any advice for college students?
NM: I think you should not do crack.
Norm MacDonald’s album “Ridiculous” is available Sept. 12.