Sad, shocking news out of the world of comedy today:
Multiple sources have now confirmed that beloved actor, comic, and Saturday Night Live alum Norm MacDonald has passed away at the age of 61.
News of MacDonald’s death was first reported by Deadline moments ago.
The outlet revealed that MacDonald’s management firm Brillstein Entertainment issued a statement regarding his passing on Tuesday afternoon.
MacDonald’s friend and producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with him when he passed away, says that he had privately been battling cancer for more than a decade.
Not wanting his health issues to distract from his work, MacDonald never went public with his diagnosis.
“He was most proud of his comedy,” Hoekstra said.
“He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic," she continued, echoing the sort of praise that had been lavished on MacDonald by fellow comedians.
"He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”
Regarded as the quintessential "comic’s comic" MacDonald was most famous for his acting and his tenure as host of SNL’s Weekend Update.
But it was his talent as a standup that made MacDonald an icon among his peers.
MacDonald’s three comedy albums – Ridiculous (1996), Me Doing Standup (2011) and Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery (2017) – along with his uproarious appearances on Late Night With David Letterman and Conan are the stuff of legend in certain circles.
During his time as Update host, he may have done more to transform the segment – and, by extension, SNL itself – than any other cast member in the show’s history.
Moving away from the slapstick approach favored by some of his predecessors, MacDonald favored a sharp-tongued, political take on the week’s events that paved the way not only for his successor Colin Quinn, but also for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and other comics who dabbled in the medium of "fake news."
MacDonald earned a reputation for integrity during his years on Update, refusing to go easy on O.J. Simpson, despite pressure from NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer, who was close friends with the alleged murderer.
In the years that followed, MacDonald starred in a sitcom of his own and made frequent appearances on long-running series such as ABC’s The Middle.
His presence on Twitter and his best-selling satirical autobiography introduced him to a new generation of comedy fans in recent years.
News of MacDonald’s passing has resulted in an outpouring of grief from the comic’s friends, family, and legion of devoted fans.
"My dear friend Norm MacDonald passed after a brave 10 year battle. He was one of our most precious gems. An honest and courageous comedy genius. I love him," Jim Carrey tweeted moments ago.
"No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique. F–k cancer," Jon Stewart wrote.
"We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind," Steve Martin added.
We’d like to add our voice to the chorus of fans grieving a true comedy legend today.
Our thoughts go out to Norm MacDonald’s loved ones during this tremendously difficult time.