My Comedy Hero: Gareth Richards on Canadian comic Norm Macdonald
'He doesn’t seem to be trying very hard – he’s just being really, really funny'
I discovered Canadian comic Norm Macdonald fairly recently, after being tipped off by another act (Alun Cochrane). I quickly devoured everything I could find, from his most recent special, the brilliant Me Doing Stand-Up, to YouTube clips of him on Conan O’Brien’s show, his deadpan anti-roasting of Bob Saget to his 2013 podcast series Norm Macdonald Live which nearly killed me several times due to the incompatibility of driving and uncontrollable laughter.
Norm is not the everyman who says what we’re all thinking: he is the outsider who won’t leave well enough alone. He could be a drifter just arrived in town, or even an alien in human form who has been observing our ways. But he never pushes the weirdness with quirks – instead, he draws you in with his easy, squinty charm. While some comics play on the contrast of their lightweight observations delivered with total commitment, Norm goes the other way and talks about our taboos – sex, death, the stuff of existence – as though none of it matters very much.
The most compelling thing about Norm Macdonald is that he doesn’t seem to be trying very hard – he’s just being really, really funny. He seems at home on stage, like it might be the best place for him – like it’s good that he’s finally getting some of this off his chest. He’s quite unusual and is talking in a way that you’ve never really heard anyone talk before, but still it seems natural, authentic, and really funny.
The Stand, Edinburgh, Fri 23–Sun 25 May.