Sunday, March 1, 2015


There will be a new SNL this weekend, on February 28, but there was not one this previous week, so I’m going to start a new series of blogs about the Weekend Update hosts themselves, in which I will discuss the hosts’ tenures on the Weekend Update, along with the whole before and after deal. Basically, like a mini-biography. So, for this first one, it only makes sense that I start out with the best Weekend Update host ever: Norm Macdonald.
Now, since this is a Weekend Update blog, I will mainly discuss Macdonald’s time as the Weekend Update anchor, but I guess I should mention that he was a stand-up comedian before being a Weekend Update anchor. So he already had good experience with writing and delivering topical jokes.
Macdonald joined SNL in 1993 and left in 1998 after being fired (for reasons that we’ll discuss later). He actually hosted the Weekend Update from 1994 to 1997, and as a host, was considered by Chevy Chase to be the best for the job, besides Chevy Chase, of course. (For those of you who don’t know, Chevy Chase was the first ever Weekend Update host who set the stage for everyone else. If I do more of these biographical blogs, Chase’s will be my next.) Macdonald was not only confined to the Weekend Update desk; he also participated in some sketches doing impressions and other characters. The most notable sketch he participated in was the ongoing Celebrity Jeopardy, in which he impersonated Burt Reynolds.
But enough of that, let’s talk about Norm Macdonald as the Weekend Update anchor. Macdonald was the best Update anchor ever, in my honest opinion, because of his wit and willingness to insult anyone and everyone. He had ongoing jokes making fun of Frank Stallone, Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson, and David Hasselhoff, to name a few. He would often tell a joke about something such as Jupiter’s moon Europa having the ability to support one primitive life form, then would say “Who? You guessed it: Frank Stallone.” About Michael Jackson, Macdonald would often make fun of Jackson’s well-known scandal of sexual child abuse, calling him a “Homosexual pedophile.” His words, not mine, okay? In his words, Macdonald would also frequently say that OJ Simpson was guilty of murder, as I will discuss later since it relates to Macdonald’s firing. Finally, with David Hasselhoff, Macdonald would constantly tell some joke relating to Germany, then say “further evidence of my old theory that Germans love David Hasselhoff.” Macdonald went so far as to have Hasselhoff appear on the Weekend Update all to prove his own theory. (For more details, read my first blog. It’s great.)

The German Dodgeball team bonding over a picture of David Hasselhoff

Norm Macdonald also had ongoing gags aside from constant mockery of these famous/infamous people. He would often times pull out a tape recorder in a “Note to self” relating to a bit of news he had just given. Macdonald would also refer to fake books and magazines, such as the medical journal “Duh” and his own magazine “Things I Wish Really Happened.”
Norm Macdonald was just hilarious at the Weekend Update desk, being so rude and mean to some people. His jokes were edgy and funny, which everyone watching the Update loved, except for some NBC executives. He kept his job longer than most would expect, especially after cursing on air. When delivering news about a museum for broadcast journalism, Macdonald jumbled up his lines and then dropped the F-bomb, which is the worst possible thing an SNL cast member can possibly do. Like seriously, this is grounds for firing. But Norm Macdonald played it off well. The cursing caused the audience to bust up with laughter and applause, which Macdonald, smirking at the whole debacle, responded to saying “Aha, my farewell performance…” and then finished the joke. A week went by, and NBC only received 3 complaints about the cursing. Three complaints! So Norm went back to the Weekend Update desk the next week, and that Saturday night he killed it. (Insert OJ Simpson joke) He refrained from cursing (even catching himself and saying “oh drat!”)and he used his week-old mistake as a springboard for another joke that both made fun of himself and Vermont.
“With the resignation of two police officers in Vergennes, Vermont, the city’s 2,500 residents are now left with only one policeman. [Takes out tape recorder and puts it to face] Note to self: if I get fired for cursing on the air last week, drive up to Vergennes, Vermont, hypnotize the remaining policeman, and loot town. [Crowd laughs, obviously]”
See? This is the genius that is Norm Macdonald. Now, for more genius, read the quotes below:

“Who are safer drivers: men, or women? Well, according to a new survey, 55 percent of adults feel that women are most responsible for minor ‘fender benders’ while 78 percent blame men for most fatal crashes. Please note that the percentages in these pie graphs do not add up to 100 percent because the math was done by a woman. [Laughter and boos/hisses by audience] For those of you hissing at that joke it should be noted that that joke was written by a woman. So now you don’t know what the hell to do, eh? [Lots of laughing] Nah, I’m just kidding, we don’t hire women. [Laughter ensues]”
“Well David Hasselhoff is a huge star in Germany where his syndicated series Knight Rider places a consistent second behind BayWatch in the ratings, which once again proves my old theory: Germans love David Hasselhoff.”
Norm Macdonald with evidence of his David Hasselhoff theory.

“Kenny G has a Christmas album out this year. Hey, happy birthday Jesus! Hope you like crap!”
“This week, supermodel Claudia Schiffer broke up with magician David Copperfield. Later, a devastated Copperfield wandered out onto the street and was hit by a bus. This, according to the current issue of ‘Things I wish Really Happened.’”
Note another story: "Whiskey Cures AIDS"

“A one-legged goose with a dart in its head. And I complain about my life.”

"A study says that pot use in high school is up sharply. Don’t I know it!”
“…I don’t really sell drugs to children.”

“A new study says that people who quit smoking have healthier lungs. Yet another groundbreaking story from the pages of the medical journal: ‘Duh.’”

“And in music news: number one on the college charts this summer was ‘Better Than Ezra.’ And at number two: Ezra.”
“In a recent interview, Christine Brinkley suggested that football players should have special gloves connected to lights on their helmets. That way, when they catch the ball, you’ll know who has possession. Read these and other interesting ideas in Christine’s new book: ‘I’m an Idiot.’”
(After Will Ferrell vomits) “Well, in Albany, New York, Susan John has been asked to resign as chairwoman of the State Assembly of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee, following her arrest on drunk driving charges. On the bright side for Miss John, she has been asked to chair the Assembly’s committee on irony. Note to self: never ever follow a vomit-spewing guy with a joke. [Proceeds to eat some of the vomit.]It’s good! It’s quite good!  Normally I don’t like Will Ferrell vomit, but this is actually very good!”
So hopefully you read those quotes, saw those pictures, and thought “Hey, this guy was funny!” If you didn’t, then you have no sense of humor. So for the sane people you might be wondering “How could he get fired for being funny?” Well, here’s the interesting thing: Norm Macdonald was fired because he supposedly “wasn’t funny.”
Yeah, I know, it’s stupid.
Here’s the full story and the necessary background.
OJ Simpson divorced his wife Nicole Brown in 1992 (they had been married since 1985). On June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death, and OJ Simpson was the prime suspect, due to evidence found at the scene. Simpson tried to run away (let me clarify: drive away) and was involved in a large-scale, widely televised police chase, that ended with his surrender and eventual trial for the double murder. Simpson was defended by the enthusiastic Johnnie Cochran and a team of capable lawyers. The prosecution had DNA and circumstantial evidence linking OJ to the murders, and the defense had theories that Columbian drug people or assassins had committed the murders. One of the biggest pieces of evidence was a blood-soaked left-handed glove found at the crime scene and a matching right-handed glove at Simpson’s house. However, the defense was able to prove well enough that much of the evidence was unreliable due to perjury. And with the gloves, Cochran got the prosecution to have OJ Simpson try on the murder-glove, and he did, and the glove didn’t fit, so, as Cochran famously said: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” It is interesting to note that Simpson’s hands were inflamed when he tried on the glove, and not only that, but he was wearing gloves under the one he was trying on! So anyway, the jury acquitted OJ Simpson of the murder, setting him free. That’s the backstory. Now here’s how it ties in with Norm Macdonald.

Even Seinfeld parodied the OJ Simpson case with Jackie Chiles, a lawyer modeled after Johnnie Cochran.

Norm Macdonald would always advocate the idea that OJ Simpson was guilty, during and after the trial. Here are a few examples:
“Well in a questionable move by the defense team this week, OJ Simpson demonstrated how to stab two people at the same time.”
[After the acquittal] “Well it is finally official. Murder is legal in the state of California.”
“OJ Simpson was in a different kind of courtroom this week attempting to regain custody of his two children. In order to prove to the court how much he loves his kids, OJ pointed out quote ‘Hey, they’re still alive, aren’t they?’”
(About OJ Simpson’s lawyer) “It was revealed this week that defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran once abused his first wife. In his defense, Cochran said: ‘Hey, at least I didn’t kill her like some people I know!’”
“In his book, OJ Simpson says that he would have taken a bullet or stood in front of a train for Nicole. Man, I’m gonna tell you that is some bad luck when the one guy who would have died for you kills you.”
So Norm Macdonald was not exactly professional or impartial about the whole OJ Simpson debacle, but he was certainly funny about it, which is what a comedy show requires, right? Well… that’s an interesting story. Don Ohlmeyer was an NBC West Coast Executive, and a personal friend of OJ Simpson. In 1998 he insisted that Norm Macdonald be fired for “not being funny.” So Norm Macdonald was suddenly fired for not being funny by a guy who was friends with a guy who Macdonald constantly bashed. Something fishy is there. Norm Macdonald took it well, going on David Letterman and saying that Ohlmeyer was a nice guy (a fat one at that) and would say that the idea of it being a conspiracy theory was a weird thesis. I personally agree with the whole conspiracy theory idea because it makes sense.

Norm Macdonald giving a monologue while hosting SNL... and getting his revenge!!!

Don’t worry though, Norm Macdonald got his revenge. A year and a half later, in 1999, Macdonald was invited back to the show to host, and boy did he share his opinion. In his opening monologue he said the following:
“When the people here asked me to do the show, I've got to say, I felt kind of weird. I don't know if you remember this, but I used to actually be on this show. I used to do the 'Weekend Update' news routine, you remember that? That's where I did the make-believe news jokes. That was me, you know? So then, a year and a half ago, I had sort of a disagreement with the management at NBC. I wanted to keep my job. Right? And they felt the exact opposite. They fired me because they said that I wasn't funny. Now, with most jobs, I could have had a hell of a lawsuit on my hands for that, but see, this is a comedy show. So, they got me. But, now, this is the weird part, it's only a year and a half later, and now, they ask me to host the show. So I wondered, how did I go from being not funny enough to be even allowed in the building, to being so funny that I'm now hosting the show? How did I suddenly get so goddamn funny?! It was inexplicable to me, because, let's face it, a year and a half is not enough time for a dude to learn how to be funny! Then it occurred to me, I haven't gotten funnier, the show has gotten really bad! So, yeah, I'm funny compared to, you know, what you'll see later. Okay, so let's recap, the bad news is: I'm still not funny. The good news is: The show blows! Alright, folks, we've got a bad show for you tonight! Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggie Dogg and Eminem are here. We'll be right back!”
Link For The Actual Monologue Video
Another Link to the Same Video

Is this guy insane or what? He openly insulted the very people of the show he was INVITED to host! Life goals right there. After all that insanity, Macdonald went on to do some more TV shows, including the short-lived but hilarious Sports Show With Norm Macdonald. He still does standup comedy, and he is a genius at it. I mean, at one point he did a routine about how to kill a woman by luring her into a van filled with cheese sandwiches. Recently, he appeared on SNL 40 as Burt Reynolds and as himself to introduce Chevy Chase.
So, let’s recap.

Norm Macdonald was the Weekend Update anchor from 1994 to 1997 and was fired before the 1998 season. During his tenure he was insulting, edgy, and hilarious, being described by Chevy Chase, the original Update anchor, as the funniest anchor since himself. Norm was fired for not being funny, then somehow became so funny in a year and a half that he was invited back to host SNL. Today, the current co-anchor Colin Jost describes Macdonald as his inspiration (which might not be a compliment because Jost is terrible) and Norm is fondly remembered by like everyone as the best Weekend Update host ever. So, to close with his usual ending line: “I’m Norm Macdonald, and now the fake news.”

A Video With Tons of Norm Material (The video is in English but the text itself is like Russian or something)
That Same Monologue Video

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