Saturday Night Live gave many Canadian comedians their big break. Most of them were from Ontario but one—Norm Macdonald—was born in Quebec City in 1959. He attended Quebec High School, where he studied Latin instead of French; he says this “didn’t make much sense” because the city “was virtually 99% French and 0% ancient Roman.” After touring Canada as a stand-up comic, he began his American career as a screenwriter on The Dennis Miller Show and Roseanne. In 1993, he joined Saturday Night Live, hosting the news segment in a deadpan style. His relentless jokes at the expense of murder suspect O.J. Simpson, a friend of an NBC network executive, reportedly cost him his job. His style often veered into what is known as Anti-Humour, which involves subverting punchlines and traditional forms of humour. His jokes have become self-consciously and ironically hokey and old-fashioned over the years, as seen in his 2015 foray as Colonel Sanders in a series of KFC ads. Macdonald recently published Based on a True Story, a semi-fictional autobiography, and has a new Netflix talk show produced by David Letterman called Norm Macdonald Has a Show.

Norm MacDonald on Weekend Update

Further Reading

Macdonald, Norm. Based on a True Story: A Memoir. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2016.