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NEW YORK - NORM MACDONALD BEING RUDE ON TALK SHOWS: AN INTRODUCTION

February 10, 2009, 3:50pm


There was this particularly shameful phase of my life, in which I couldn't go over to friends' houses without drinking all their beer and making them watch youtube clips of Norm Macdonald being rude on talk shows. Needless to say, as far as shameful phases go, it was a lot of fun. In fact, the only reason I ever stopped is because most of my friends have either moved out of state or started ducking my calls. I can't say I blame them. People can only withstand so many drunken lectures about how Norm Macdonald is a comedic genius before the part of their brains that is friends with you starts to break down.

All that said, Norm Macdonald is a comedic genius. And if I were in your apartment right now, drinking all your Pabst, I'm pretty sure I would do an awesome job of explaining why. But for those of you who will never be able to experience that joy (stealing glances at your watch while I insist on showing you just few more clips) I have compiled a brief introduction to the comedy of Norm Macdonald.

Macdonald is known as a standup comedian, fake news television personality, and half-hearted pseudo-actor. However, none of these aspects of his career are able to tap into his virtually unlimited talent more than his sporadic appearances on talk shows.

The first clip is from a 1997 appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. At this point in the night, I am on my third beer and am trying to ease you into the idea of wasting an entire evening watching clips of Norm Macdonald. This clip serves as a great introduction, because it is without question the Citizen Kane of Norm Macdonald talk show appearances:

The clip starts off as mildly entertaining, but then develops into something so fundamentally great that not a day goes by that I don't think about how somebody should adapt it into a musical. If the words "box office poison" don't cause your heart to flutter with more life-affirming excitement than your first kiss, then it's pretty obvious that you're a piece of garbage as a person.

The next clip (about 5 beers in) is from an appearance on The Daily Show, which ran shortly after Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) died. Naturally, Macdonald points out the absurdity of regarding as untimely the death of a guy who took pride in the fact that he was in the habit of manhandling crocodiles and spreading open their cloacae on cable television to their (I would awesome) total embarrassment:

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At this point in the night (7 beers), the tenor of my pro-Macdonald rant changes from "isn't this funny" to "Norm Macdonald is the most significant human being since J. Robert Oppenheimer." I begin to get frustrated when you don't laugh at certain points or accidentally talk over one of the punch lines. From this point on, it takes literally dozens of viewings to get through a single clip.

But eventually we get to Macdonald's appearance on The View, in which he tells co-host Meredith Viera that he would have sex with her while she was awake:

Then the flood gates open. I show you clips of Norm Macdonald doing a deliberately awful job roasting Bob Saget and him competing on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I start pulling up clips from shows you never knew existed, which leads to the part of the night where you start working up the courage to ask me to leave.

But before you manage it, I circle back to the beginning and pull up the "box office poison" clip for what I promise is the last time. And even though you're tired and just want me to leave, even though you're starting to think that these clips are nowhere near as funny as I think they are, once Macdonald starts laying into Courtney Thorne-Smith, you lose yourself in the awesomeness of the clip. You recognize the fact that I've wasted your time and consumed most of your beer, but for those few minutes of Sistine-Chapel-like talk show perfection, you don't mind.

SETH FRIED