By Jason Tanamor
“I’m just looking for my cordless,” Norm MacDonald said when I called him. “Hang on.” From the sound of MacDonald, it appeared as if I had woken him up. Either that or he was drunk or high. But then I realized that he was just a laid back type of dude. “Hang on,” he said again. “All right, you there?”
I said yeah, thanked him for the interview and then went into it.
Q - Did you really get fired from “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) for not being funny?
A - I don’t really know why I got fired personally. It doesn’t really matter what the reason was. I’m not interested. I’d rather not hear what the reason or reasons were.
Q - How long were you on SNL?
A – I don’t really remember. I think I wrote for a year, and then acted for two and half years.
Q - I heard you wanted to be a news reporter before being a comedian. So when you got “Weekend Update,” that had to be a dream come true for you?
A - You did?
Q – Yeah, the wonderful things you can find on the Internet.
A – Actually, the first thing I wanted to be on was a game show. I wanted to be the guy that just read the prizes at the end, just reading products, like you were in a store. That would have been the easiest job ever. I didn’t have great ambition. But I wasn’t really surprised about getting fired. Most of my jobs I got fired from.
Q – So SNL was probably the icing on the cake?
A – (Laughs) Hold on a second. Someone’s beeping in. (Norm clicks over and then returns.) There was no one there. (Pause) All right, you there?
Q – Yo. Your sitcoms, “Norm” and “A minute with Stan Hooper,” didn’t last as long as I thought they would. “Norm” went, what, three years and Hooper went a few episodes. I thought “Stan Hooper” was unlike your previous work. Whose crazy idea was this series?
A - It was my idea. I wanted to do a show where I didn’t get laughs. Other people got the laughs.
Q – So you were kind of like the straight man?
A – Yeah, I’m not a strong comic actor.
Q - What do you think of the sitcom landscape nowadays?
A - There aren’t any.
Q - Would you ever return to primetime television?
A – Sure. I’ll probably return in one year, and be on network television. That’ll be my bet. (Pause) You’re being beeped again, hold on… (Norm clicks over and then shortly returns.) All right man.
Q - You also did some writing for a couple of sitcoms. Do you think you’re most suited for being behind the scenes or on screen?
A - I don’t care, on a sitcom. If I had a choice, I’d rather write for a great sitcom actor than write for myself, someone like Michael J. Fox.
Q - How did you get involved with stand-up comedy?
A – I love stand-up. I was doing manual labor when I started. With stand-up, I got paid $15 dollars for ten minutes, so that was like ninety bucks in an hour. Manual labor, I was making $3.65 an hour.
Q – I mean, but how did you get started? Did you see or know someone?
A – I saw a comic. I watched them on TV when I was five or six. I saw them on television, (Laughs) because I couldn’t go to the clubs at five or six. (Pause) Hold on, all right? (Norm clicks over again for a short time and then returns.) It’s another reporter. I said, “Give me fifteen minutes.” I gave you the props, I said, “I’m not getting off the phone with my buddy.”
Q – Thanks for the props.
A – All right, where were we baby?
Q - How has your material or act changed since you first came onto the scene?
A – When I first started, I talked about having a dog and an answering machine, you know, regular stuff. Now, it’s more miniature stuff.
Q – Miniature stuff?
A - Yes, like tiny feelings I have.
Q - You’re a pretty serious poker player. Is this something you would consider doing professionally?
A - I don’t like playing anymore. It’s a waste of time. I lost a lot of time playing poker.
Q – Sounded like you meant you lost a lot of money.
A – What? No, I said time.
Q - When are you going to do another “Dirty Work” type movie?
A - I don’t know. We were just talking about it the other day, remembering the past. “Dirty Work” is now a cult classic, but I made no money at the time. I would like to go back in a time travel machine in the next movie and do pranks on Hitler, something with history.
Q – That’s all I had for you. Did I miss anything?
A – Yeah, I’ll have a TV show, next year, but I don’t know which one of the three I’m going to do.
Q – You can’t give me any information on it?
A - No, I don’t want to, then the other two will know I’m not shooting theirs.
Q – Oh, I see. You seem very at ease.
A – I’m very laid back. I don’t get stressed out about anything.
Q – You still doing impressions?
A – I never did impressions in my act, but I did some on SNL. I’m not an impressionist.
Q – Anything else you wanted to add?
A – Uh. Don’t do crack. There’s a message for the kids. (Pause) So, you coming to the show?
Q – Yeah, probably.
A – All right. See you there. We’ll club it up. Rock and roll.
By Jason Tanamor