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Sunday Stupid: Norm Macdonald savages a starlet!

November 30, 2014

Norm Macdonald is somewhat of a hero to both comedians and lovers of comedy, not as much for his routines (which are hilarious) or his stint on SNL (which was great) or his movies (Dirty Work is highly underappreciated — really) as for his fearlessness. Norm simply doesn’t care. He’s not afraid to bomb, and in fact might just revel in the level of discomfort the sound of crickets would cause for audience members embarrassed for him.

It also means he’s not afraid to cut the knees out from under an actress on a late night talk show, so long as it gets a laugh. Or lots of laughs.

Norm is one of the best talk show guests out there, because you never know what he’s going to say. Pre-production renders most desk-to-couch confabs flat, rehearsed nonsense, especially for comedians, as the hosts feed them planned questions so the guest can go into bits and stories that they’ve brought along with them. It’s bland. It’s about as far away from real conversation as you can get without turning it all over to robots.

But Norm makes it a bit different. Utterly unafraid of giving offense or going over the line of PC, he takes it to a new level. It’s like a wild animal set loose in a theater — to extend the metaphor, like one of Jack Hanna’s San Diego Zoo charges slipping its tether and charging into the crowd.

For example — perhaps the finest moments of the fantastic old HBO Dennis Miller show came with Norm as a guest, as the next clip will attest (warning: foul and sexually explicit language):

And though it isn’t a talk show, it’s apt — remember that time he hosted the ESPYS and pissed off every athlete in the hall?:

And then there was the clip at the top of this post. After an interview on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1997, he shifted one seat and hung around while Courtney Thorne-Smith, then starring in Melrose Place, came out for a turn. No offense to Ms. Thorne-Smith, but there never were and never will be a swarm of audience members hanging on her every word. She seems nice — and certainly took her drubbing with aplomb — but as they say, there wasn’t a lot of there there. So Norm charged in, taking special delight in mocking her upcoming film, the Carrot Top vehicle Chairman of the Board. Yes, she was in a Carrot Top movie, way back before he became a steroided drag queen, which deserves some ribbing. Because come on — Carrot Top.

Norm’s final improvisational zinger, launched upon Conan’s challenge to “do something” with the title — “I bet ‘Board’ is spelled B-O-R-E-D” — might just be his late night apotheosis. And for that matter the apotheosis of Conan’s late night career, judging by his and Andy Richter’s reactions, as well as the number of times the clip has been used in retrospectives.

Anyway, don’t mess with Norm Macdonald, especially not after midnight on TV.

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