Macdonald’s trademark smirking disregard for authority reportedly became his downfall. Allegedly, repeated requests from NBC’s West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer to go easy on his friend OJ Simpson were met with indifference from the comic, who continued to lambast Simpson on air on a nearly weekly basis. Ohlmeyer had Macdonald fired in January of 1998. A year and a half later, Macdonald would return to host SNL and addressed the issue in his monologue, questioning how it was possible that he went from not being funny enough to keep his job to so good that he deserved to host in just 18 months. “Then it occurred to me: I haven’t gotten funnier,” he said as he stared down the audience. “The show’s gotten really bad.”
MacDonald’s career continued largely unabated thanks to a fan base that never let him go out of demand. He toured consistently, lent his iconic voice to “Family Guy” and “The Orville,” among others, starred in the short-lived ABC sitcom “The Norm Show,” and could almost always be counted on to appear in the projects of fellow “SNL” vets, from “Billy Madison” to “The Ridiculous 6.” From 2013 to 2017, he hosted the popular video podcast “Norm Macdonald Live,” carrying much of the series’ energy over to “Norm Macdonald Has a Show” on Netflix in 2018.
For those with a specific taste, Macdonald provided some of the most hauntingly brilliant moments of comedy in recent memory, from his trolling, meandering deliveries of the Moth Joke and the Roast of Bob Saget, to the time he responded to Jane Fonda’s insistence that energy drinks were bad for him by sipping a Red Bull and saying “Maybe you can change me.” An irreplaceable talent, he will be sorely missed.