Norm Macdonald told fans he was dying in stand-up act one year before cancer death – but audience thought it was a joke

NORM Macdonald told fans he was dying in his stand-up act more than a year before he died of cancer.

During a 2020 performance, the SNL star, 61, said to an oblivious audience that he "knows how he's going to die" and that he hopes to "find a cure".


Norm died on Tuesday after secretly battling cancer for more than a decade.

Back in March 2020, the comedian made a series of pointed references to mortality while discussing Covid during an improv performance in Los Angeles.

He kicked off by saying, "On the way over here I got really ill," before joking that it was down to a cherry pie he ate and a shaky car journey.

Reflecting on Covid at a time when a vaccine hadn't yet been found, he added: "It’s funny that we all now know how we’re going to die.

“It’s just a matter of what order at this point."

Later in his performance, he said: "So my plan is just not to die.

"To survive long enough where they find a cure. You know some people will have to die but finally they'll find a cure for me."

Norm also talked about reading on a Wikipedia page that he had died in his 2016 memoir, Based On A True Story: A Memoir.

In the extract, he says he imagines if it were true and laughs until a thought suddenly stops him.

“The preposterous lie on the screen before me isn’t that far off,” he wrote.

In another stand-up performance, he also joked that he didn't agree with "losing a battle" to cancer, instead seeing it as a "draw."

TRAGIC LOSS

Norm's management firm confirmed his death to Deadline earlier this week.

His longtime producing partner and friend Lori Jo Hoekstra said: "He was most proud of his comedy. He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him.

"Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that ‘a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.’ He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly.”

Many comedy legends quickly reacted to the shocking news on Twitter, as Steve Martin wrote: "We loved Norm MacDonald. One of a kind."

Patton Oswalt said: "NOOOOO GODDAMIT. Oh my God what is even happening.

"Good bye, Norm. You were never not 100% hilarious."

CELEBRITY TRIBUTES

Actor Seth Rogen chimed in: "Oh f**k. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting.

"I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP."

The TV star landed on the mainstream radar thanks to SNL, as he made his debut in the iconic sketch comedy show in 1993.

During his tenure on SNL he was most remembered for his role as the Weekend Update anchor for three seasons, most notably for his dry, quick wit on news events.

COMEDY ICON

When he wasn't behind the desk, Norm also appeared in various sketches, including his memorable impersonation of Burt Reynolds on Celebrity Jeopardy!.

Norm's time on the program wrapped up in 1998.

Following his stint on SNL, Norm went on to star on The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001.

In 2018, the comic landed on Netflix with his talk show Norm MacDonald Has a Show.

Norm is survived by one child, Dylan, who he shared with his ex-wife Connie Vaillancourt.



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