Norm MacDonald was a fixture at the “Weekend Update” desk on Saturday Night Live from 1994 to 1998. Many are revisiting the actor’s clips from the NBC show following his recent death on Sept. 14, with his anchoring of the news sketch remaining a fan favorite.
Several comedians became household names manning the “Weekend Update” broadcast including Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, and Amy Poehler. MacDonald previously weighed in on the performances of SNL stars Colin Jost and Michael Che in the iconic seats at the news desk.
Norm MacDonald was ‘a big fan’ of Colin Jost and Michael Che
In a 2018 interview promoting his Netflix show Norm Macdonald Has a Show, MacDonald was asked about Jost and Che as anchors of the legendary SNL sketch. The comedian didn’t hold back on his praise of the actors.
“I like both of those guys,” MacDonald told the Hollywood Reporter. “I always really liked Michael’s stand-up. Colin comes from Harvard and is a completely different kettle of fish than Michael. But he is an exceptionally good writer.”
Pointing out differing qualities between Jost and Che, MacDonald was clearly confident in their ability to successfully carry “Weekend Update”.
“I find Colin’s jokes to be very precise and have a lot of respect for those jokes,” he remarked. “And I think Michael’s delivery is fantastic. He is also a more politically incorrect person, as most stand-ups are compared to most Harvard graduates. But I am a big fan of those two guys.”
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Former ‘Weekend Update’ anchor learned from Norm MacDonald
Late night talk show host Seth Meyers also had a turn in the “Weekend Update” anchor chair during his tenure on Saturday Night Live. After hearing of MacDonald’s death earlier this week, Meyers commented the comedian’s ability to shake off a lack of laughs from the audience.
“Norm said that was so great because by the time ‘Update’ rolled around, if the show was bad, you could literally just go out there and bomb,” Meyers recalled on his show. “That both made that level of difficulty something that I think he really respected and also he loved. Or I should say he just didn’t care if he was bombing if he thought the jokes were good. He had exactly as much fun telling them to a dead audience than to one who appreciated them.”
As brilliant as MacDonald’s delivery was, Meyers wanted to avoid any attempts at copying the comic legend’s style when he had his seat at the SNL news desk.
“One of the hardest parts about doing ‘Update‘ for me was not telling every joke the way I thought Norm would tell it,” Meyers admitted. “Like, I had to beat Norm’s delivery out of me. It still sneaks in all the time, but I really had to keep an eye on it. … He was the gold standard, and he will continue to be the gold standard.”
Norm MacDonald used ‘fake news’ as a ‘disclaimer’
The term “fake news” has taken on new life in journalism circles for the past few years, yet MacDonald was often using those words in the mid-90s to introduce “Weekend Update”.
“It was my idea to say ‘fake news’ — as if you need to say that,” he told Playboy magazine in 1997, according to the Washington Post. “When you do a parody, you’re supposed to pretend it’s real, so I thought it would be funny to say it’s not real.”
Apparently the term came in handy to avoid any violation of FCC rules.
“Later I found out that when I did some harder jokes, the censors would say, ‘Oh well, if he says it’s fake news . . .’” MacDonald revealed. “It turned out to be a disclaimer.”
Norm MacDonald died from cancer at the age of 61 on Sept. 14.
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