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Comedians Pay Tribute To Beloved Ex-'SNL' Star Norm Macdonald

Norm Macdonald performs at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2011. The Canadian comedian and actor died this week, nearly a decade after being diagnosed with cancer.
Norm Macdonald performs at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas in 2011. The Canadian comedian and actor died this week, nearly a decade after being diagnosed with cancer.

Tributes are pouring in for Norm Macdonald, the Canadian comedian best known for anchoring Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segments in the 1990s.

Macdonald died at 61 on Tuesday, nearly a decade after a cancer diagnosis that he kept private (here's a clip of a stand-up performance in which he derides the phrase "battling cancer").

NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this remembrance. Here's what some of his many colleagues and fans are saying:

Honoring the stand-up comedian, late-night guest and friend

Late-night host and former SNL cast member Seth Meyers (who also hosted "Weekend Update") honored Macdonald on his show, recalling some of his favorite jokes and shared memories.

"He was the gold standard and he will continue to be the gold standard, and I would just suggest that everybody go watch him tell the moth story on Conan," he said. "Go watch any number of Norm Macdonald things tonight because they are really, truly timeless."

Jimmy Fallon referred to Macdonald as "one of the greatest comedians ever" and "a friend of the show — family, really, to us." He recalled the first time he met Macdonald, shortly after being hired on SNL.

Stephen Colbert shared a story about how welcoming Macdonald was when he spent a few weeks on SNL as a guest writer.

"I wish I were a good enough comedian to come up with a joke right now about Norm Macdonald having died. But the only comedian I know who could get away with a 'Norm Macdonald is dead' joke is Norm Macdonald," Colbert said. "And I'm going to miss the fact that there's nobody left on the planet who can do that, and the comedy world is poorer for it today."

James Corden said on his show: "All Norm ever wanted to do was to make us laugh, and he was absolutely brilliant at it. There was nobody quite like him. I felt privileged any time I got to be in his orbit. He leaves us as one of the all-time great comics, perhaps the single greatest guest in the history of late-night television, I think."

See more touching tributes from the likes of David Letterman, Sarah Silverman, Seth Rogen (language warning here), Adam Sandler, Bob Saget and Jon Stewart (language warning here too).


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: September 14, 2021 at 10:00 PM MDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled Seth Rogen's last name as Rogan.