Norm Macdonald, the deadpan stand-up comic and beloved “Saturday Night Live” alum, died Tuesday after a private nine-year battle with cancer. He was 61.
The former “Weekend Update” anchor’s passing was confirmed to The Post by his manager Marc Gurvitz, of Brillstein Entertainment.
“Today is a sad day. All of us here at ‘SNL’ mourn the loss of Norm Macdonald, one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation,” NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” team told The Post in a statement. “There are so many things that we’ll miss about Norm — from his unflinching integrity to his generosity to his consistent ability to surprise. But most of all he was just plain funny. No one was funny like Norm.”
The Quebec City native’s close friend Lori Jo Hoekstra, who was with Macdonald when he died, said he fought cancer hard — but was adamant about keeping his struggle from family, friends and fans.
That tracks: “When I hear a guy lost a battle to cancer, the term really bothers me,” he presciently said in 2011. “It implies that he failed and that somebody else, who defeated cancer, is heroic and courageous.”
Hoekstra, who was also Macdonald’s longtime producing partner, told Deadline in a statement: “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.”
When he published his best-selling “memoir” in 2015, Macdonald revealed what percentage of it was true in his signature sarcastic style: “Oh, zero,” he told The Post. “I wanted to write a novel, but they wouldn’t let me. But there are facts in the book that are true, [like] ‘a river is made of water.’ “
Macdonald, who never graduated from high school, also admitted “the scariest [part about writing my book “Based on a True Story”] is I have no education and so I really feel like to be a good writer, you need education.”
He revealed to The Post at the time, “I would really like to go to school. I never got the chance. I’ve never worked so hard. It was very hard for me to keep a whole book in my head. I could keep a sketch in my head or even a movie … but a book. It’s so hard to keep that whole thing at once in your head.”
Macdonald launched his show biz career in the comedy clubs of his native Canada, where he perfected his signature laconic delivery, and went on to compete on the early reality TV competition series “Star Search” hosted by Ed McMahon, in 1990.
He also was in the infamous writers room for fellow stand-up Roseanne Barr’s hit sitcom “Roseanne” during the 1992-93 season — before scoring his coveted onscreen gig in Lorne Michaels’ iconic NBC sketch comedy series.
Macdonald was known for his “SNL” impressions of Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Larry King, Quentin Tarantino and many more during his five-year run on the show from 1993 to 1998.
Still, he was conflicted about his tenure with the treasured not-ready-for-primetime-players.
“I would love to stay at ‘SNL’ forever — but you can’t stay in the same place,” he told TV Guide in 1997. “People think you’re a loser.”
After he was let go from “SNL” — and replaced as “Weekend Update” anchor by Colin Quinn — in 1998, Macdonald starred in his own sitcom, “The Norm Show.” He played social worker Norm Henderson, a former NHL player who was banned from the sport for life thanks to gambling and tax evasion. The show ran for three seasons on ABC from 1999 to 2001.
After appearances in films such as “Billy Madison,” “Dirty Work” (which he also co-scripted), “Dr. Doolittle” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” his popular podcast spawned a streaming talk show — with the appropriately dry title “Norm Macdonald Has a Show” — for one season on Netflix in 2018.
“I’m an old man,” he told The Post at the time. “I’m just an old chunk of coal. I don’t even know how to use my phone.”
Despite his well-known aversion to sap, the legendary snark best summed up his fans’ reaction to his own passing way back in 2015. Fighting back “mawkish” tears during his last standup set on his hero David Letterman’s late-night show, Macdonald said: “If something is true — it is not sentimental. I say in truth, I love you.”