I wasn’t really familiar with Mr. MacDonald’s work. I vaguely recall seeing him do Weekend Update but doubt I saw it often as that was after I couldn’t afford agave up TV.
Anyway, thanks to y’all and YouTube, I’ve watched a bunch of his stuff now and seriously, I mean it: thank you.
I agree with the comment upthread about him doing anti-comedy. 100%. The similarities to Andy Kaufman, for instance, kept making me giggle, specifically the fact that whenever I see him, to me, he’s obviously performing. All the time. I didn’t learn anything about Norm MacDonald the person at all because he’s always in character when he’s, well, performing. He’s not there to be loved; he’s there to make people laugh. Even so, I loved his mannerisms, his not-quite relaxed way of trying to be relaxed and his ability to just plow thru everything (other people’s voices, his own inanity, the audience, etc.), seemingly oblivious to the reactions happening around him.
His jokes are hilarious. The moth joke (and several others) laid me out, sent me right out of my chair so I could roll around on the floor. Just an incredible bit with all the embellishments and misdirection that you know is misdirection but you listen to it all anyway because it’s so absurd that it borders on surreal and you just have to find out where he’s going with this… and then, of course, he goes there.
Obviously a comedian’s comedian, too. I have no doubt that other comedians were fascinated by him and the material he generated, and frustrated that it would be so very, very hard to steal.