ALBUM REVIEW: Norm Macdonald
Stand-up veteran comes through on his first special
On his first live stand up special, effectively titled Me Doing Standup, Norm MacDonald runs through a gamut of topics, using his peculiar but familiar cadence that suggests a mix of disinterest and knee-jerk sarcasm. “In the old days, a man could just get sick and die,” he says to the crowd. “But now, he has to wage a battle.” The joke ends with Norm suggesting that when people lose their courageous battles with cancer and disease, they must’ve died cowardly losers. “You’ve got to give it to the bowel cancer…”
Me Doing Standup opens with similarly dark material, and stays there for an impressive amount of time, suggesting that MacDonald has been pondering his own mortality for quite some time. When visited by the angel of death, he mimics an old man in his nineties begging for his life, crying out, “Oh please! Take my grandson! He’s young and fresh!” The best part of listening to MacDonald onstage, (at age 47) is discovering that he hasn’t lost any of the playful cynicism that made him a household name during his time on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in the 90’s. His exit from SNL years ago was thought by some to be a direct result of his jokes about the newly acquitted O.J. Simpson, and this audience is well aware of that. When someone heckles a comment asking about Simpson he responds, “I’ll tell you what I feel about OJ,” before the crowd cheers him on. “I don’t think if you steal your own shirts, you should get 35 consecutive life sentences!”
“Heart’s not good!” he says, referring to the major organ that eventually attacks and kills its owner. After his father passed from a heart attack, a family friend consoles him by suggesting that he was in a better place. “He’s on the floor!” MacDonald cries, pretending to be completely shocked by the idea that being buried in dirt would be more appealing than being alive. MacDonald’s delivery is purposely laced in self-mumblings, sometimes taking the edge off of his darker topics, such as murder victims found buried in the woods or the overuse of the word “pride” in gay and lesbian celebration. As a result, even his controversial punch lines seem harmless and at times, almost adorably upsetting.
Me Doing Standup is currently available on Comedy Central Records.