Late comedian Norm Macdonald praised for talk-show spots and that infamous moth joke

Norm MacDonald
Norm Macdonald appears on an episode of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”
(Ben Cohen / NBC Universal via Getty Images)

Heart-warming stories, waves of shock and recycled jokes took over Twitter Tuesday following the death of comedy giant Norm Macdonald, who died at 61 after privately battling cancer for nine years.

Comedians and actors influenced by the former “Saturday Night Live” star mourned his death, which cut deep and prompted sobering missives from celebrities and social-media personalities.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan called Macdonald “punishingly funny,” actor Patton Oswalt wrote “seriously this really hurts” and D.L. Hughley said he was “speechless.”


Macdonald hosted Weekend Update on “Saturday Night Live” for three seasons and made a long-winded moth joke famous, and also starred in the sitcoms “Dirty Work” and “Funny People.” But it was his influence on young comics that came through on social media Tuesday.

Norm Macdonald, who was a writer, performer and ‘Weekend Update’ anchor on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in the ’90s, died Tuesday morning of cancer.

Sept. 14, 2021

“To so many people in comedy, me included, there was nobody funnier than Norm MacDonald,” wrote “Family Guy” star Seth MacFarlane. “You always hoped he would hang around after the work was done, just so you could hear his stories and get a laugh. So hilarious and so generous with his personality. I’m gonna miss him.”

Sarah Silverman, one of the few female comedians to publicly comment on Macdonald’s legacy, tweeted that he “was in a comedy genre of his own.”

“No one like him on this planet. Please do yourself a favor and watch his stuff. He was one of a kind of all time,” she wrote.


Actor Seth Rogen said he “essentially ripped off” Macdonald’s delivery when he 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,” he tweeted.

“Norm, I didn’t just like you. I loved you,” tweeted fellow “SNL” alum Rob Schneider, sharing several photos of them together. “You didn’t just make me laugh. You made me cry with laughter. I’m still crying today. But when I think of you, my tears will run down my face with all the memories of all the laughter and all the joys that you brought to all of us. Rest.”

“In such a divisive time even among comedians, we can all agree Norm MacDonald was the best,” added “Crazy Rich Asians” star Ken Jeong.

Former “Saturday Night Live” writer Conan O’Brien — on whose talk show Macdonald delivered several convoluted jokes including that infamous moth joke — tweeted that he was “absolutely devastated.”

“Norm had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny. I will never laugh that hard again. I’m so sad for all of us today,” O’Brien wrote.


“The Late Show” legend David Letterman, in a statement to The Times, praised Macdonald’s contributions to stand-up comedy.

“In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best,” Letterman said via spokesperson. “An opinion shared by me and all peers. Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you. I was always delighted by his bizarre mind and earnest gaze. (I’m trying to avoid using the phrase, ‘twinkle in his eyes’). He was a lifetime Cy Young winner in comedy. Gone, but impossible to forget.”

Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), whom Macdonald impersonated on “SNL,” described the comedian as “a great talent” and that he “loved laughing with him on SNL.”

“One of the funniest people #SNL ever produced is gone, but will never be forgotten,” added “Star Wars” star Mark Hamill. “I’ve spent many an hour on YouTube over the years enjoying all the characters he gave us. In a word: HILARIOUS. Thanks for a lifetime of laughs.”

“We’ve lost a comedic genius, and a great Canadian,” tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Sending my condolences to his loved ones and countless fans mourning his passing.”

Here’s a look at more of the reactions and tributes: