Comedian and actor Norm Macdonald dead at 61 – CBC.ca

Norm Macdonald, the Canadian-born comedian who became an influential cast member of Saturday Night Live after he joined in 1993, has died. He was 61.

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Norm Macdonald performs at the Orleans Hotel & Casino on July 9, 2011 in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Norm Macdonald, the Canadian-born comedian who became an influential cast member of Saturday Night Live after he joined in 1993, has died. He was 61.

Entertainment news site Deadline first reported the news Tuesday. Macdonald’s manager, Marc Gurvitz of Brillstein Entertainment, also confirmed his death to CBC News. 

Macdonald was born in Quebec City on Oct. 17, 1959, the son of two schoolteachers, and spent his early years as a stand-up comedian touring across Canada.

He went on to write for shows like Roseanne and The Dennis Miller Show in the early ’90s, before going on to host SNL’s iconic segment “Weekend Update” from 1994-97.

After leaving SNL, he created and starred in the comedy The Norm Show for ABC, playing a former NHL player kicked out of the league for gambling and tax evasion and forced into community service as a social worker.

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Comedians Colin Quinn, left, Chevy Chase, centre, and Macdonald, right — all of whom hosted “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live — appear together on April 28, 2012. (Stephen Chernin/Reuters)

Macdonald was known for his laconic, deadpan voice, and for his impressions — including his take on Burt Reynolds, who famously gave Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek character grief on SNL‘s recurring “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch. He also impersonated Bob Dole, Larry King and David Letterman.

“Norm was top rank, top rank of our generation,” said Mark Breslin, co-founder of the Yuk Yuk’s chain of comedy clubs. 

“He was always trying to find the joke that was not the easy way of telling the joke, but the more difficult way of telling the joke.” 

Fellow performers also took to Twitter to share messages of condolence and grief. 

“Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today,” said Conan O’Brien. 

I am absolutely devastated about Norm Macdonald. Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today.

@ConanOBrien

“Norm @normmacdonald was a great talent, and I loved laughing with him on SNL. *Bob Dole* will miss Norm Macdonald.” pic.twitter.com/gPsdyJ5tS9

@SenatorDole

Can’t believe Norm MacDonald is dead. First met him in the mid 80s. I thought he was way too funny to be successful. I was half right. My deep sympathy to his family, close friends and his fans. #ripNorm

@DaveSFoley

To so many people in comedy, me included, there was nobody funnier than Norm MacDonald. You always hoped he would hang around after the work was done, just so you could hear his stories and get a laugh. So hilarious and so generous with his personality. I’m gonna miss him.

@SethMacFarlane

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.

@JimCarrey

“Of all the comedic minds I’ve encountered in real life, Norm Macdonald was easily the most unique,” wrote Brent Butt.

“Today the world lost a very, very funny man. We miss him already,” added Eugene Levy. 

Macdonald died after a private battle with cancer, Brillstein stated, and had chosen not to share his health problems with the public.