How to Meet Norm Macdonald
A Useless User Guide
JULY 11, 2000 -- BY MIKE WEISS
TFN Editor Mike Weiss tells the tale of his attempt to meet Norm Macdonald and his trip to California to see Norm perform.
It all started in late April of 2000 when Bob (my Dad) asked me what I wanted for my 18th birthday. I told him that I had just received word that Norm Macdonald would be doing a show in Redondo Beach, California on July 7th, four days after my birthday. I would be ecstatic if I could attend the performance. Because he is a wonderful father and because Redondo Beach is only about a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas, Bob granted my wish and bought two tickets for the show.
Then Bob had an idea. What if there was a way I could meet Norm in person? At first I though "how would that be possible?" But then I considered the possible impact that The Fake News has on Normís career. Basically, it has served as free publicity for Norm for over two years. The Redondo performance would serve as a fine time to ask for something in return seeing that Norm and I would be in the same place at the same time. Bob suggested that I send a letter to Normís agent, Adam Venit, tell him about the comprehensiveness and popularity of The Fake News, and request a brief interview with "the funniest man alive." I did just that.
Three weeks went by and I had yet to receive a response. One night, after browsing through some old email editions, I discovered that Noel (the former editor and publisher of TFN) had requested to get a brief telephone Q&A with Norm through his people at ABC and had no success. Some of you may also remember that Noel had mentioned in his resignation announcement, that there had been a "complete lack of cooperation from Norm's handlers." I was slightly discouraged, but I pressed on.
Around June 14, I decided to try and contact Adam Venit by phone and verify whether or not he had received my letter. This is what his secretary had to tell me: "Mr. Venit received your letter but doesnít arrange Normís interviews. That job is handled by Normís publicist, Ray Reo." She then gave Reoís office number and hung up the phone. Some of you may know Ray Reo from his appearance on a station identification Norm did for Comedy Central. Reo revealed his bare stomach to the camera with the words "Norm Rules" painted above his belly button.
I was just about to dial Reoís number when I had an epiphany. Why wasnít the letter I sent to Venit forwarded to Ray Reo? If Venit received my letter but doesnít arrange Normís interviews, shouldnít he (or his secretary) have forwarded the letter to the person who does? And shouldnít one of Normís people have contacted me by now, regardless? Perhaps Venit didnít want to make the effort or wasnít interested in my request. Still I should have been notified, right?
Confused, but still determined, I called Reoís office. After telling his secretary, Mandy, who I was and what I wanted to do, I was told that she or Reo would contact me as soon as possible, most likely the next day. Well, I received no phone call from Reo or Mandy the next day. So, thinking that typed text is mightier than a telephone voice, I decided to send Reo a copy of the letter I had tried to send to Venit. I still received no response, but I wasnít going to give up yet.
During the week of June 26th (one week before the performance) I started playing phone tag with Mandy. Either Reo was going to give me a yes or no answer or I was going to tie up his phone lines. On July 2nd, five days before the performance, Mandy told me that Reo was in fact interested in letting me interview Norm, he just hadnít had a chance to speak with Norm about it. Then she said that once Reo talks with Norm, I would be contacted and given an answer. The way I understood it, if Norm says "yes," Iíd get my interview. Now, I wonder if Mandy told me that just so I would stop calling.
July 5th, two days before the performance, the day I leave for California. I have yet to receive a callback. I make one final call to Reoís office. I ask Mandy if Reo had had a chance to speak with Norm. Mandyís response: "Iím not sure, yet." I end the conversation, pack up my stuff, and Bob and I begin our drive to California.
I told myself that I would beat this horse until it died. So, Bob and I didnít head out to Redondo Beach, we went to Beverly Hills, where Reoís office is located, thinking that maybe a warm body would be mightier than the combined force of typed text and a telephone voice. I knew that at this point I didnít have a snowballís chance in hell, but I figured I had nothing to lose. We arrive in Beverly Hills around noon on July 6th. I purchase a gift for Mandy as an excuse to get into the building. I make it to Reoís office. The first words out of Mandyís mouth: "Weíre you informed that the show was canceled?"
I was almost speechless. I asked Mandy if she knew why. She said "no." So, I handed Mandy the gift I bought her, walked out of Reoís office, and sat in the lobby for awhile. Using a nearby phone, I called the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, where Norm was going to perform, to verify that the show had in fact been canceled. They said "yes."
Now I wanted a reason. So, I contacted SandBlast Concerts, the organizers of the show. They told me that the show had been canceled because not enough tickets were sold. As it turns out, they were planning to televise the Redondo show, but since there wouldnít be a packed house, they said it couldnít be televised. So they decided to postpone the show to October 20th. I asked them if Norm had anything to do with the cancellation. They said "no, that decision was ours." I then asked them when they decided to cancel the show. They said, "last night (July 5th)".
I sensed something was wrong, but I decided not to peruse this any further. I left the building, and decided to walk down Rodeo Drive with Bob for a while. That was when I started to question the validity of the reason I was given. First off, they had to have sold enough tickets to get a decently packed house because the best tickets I could get were in the nosebleed section (row NN to be exact). Also, why did SandBlast decide 2 days before the show to cancel it? Thatís very unprofessional, not to mention foolish. Most concert organizers warn you at least few weeks before the performance if they are going to pull the plug. They should know 2 weeks before the show date whether or not they are going to get a decent crowd. And if they truly didnít sell a whole lot of tickets, the show could have gone on. If they didnít have a big enough crowd to televise the show, Norm still could have performed and they could have televised a different show, one with a bigger crowd. They might even have made a bigger profit that way.
The only conclusion I was able to come up with was this: maybe something is going on in Normís personal life and he decided at the last minute not to go on.
I canít say that my conclusion is factual, but it wouldnít surprise me if it were. Norm canceled all of his April 2000 shows because of "family reasons." He canceled one show because he was "feeling sleepy," and just recently he canceled a show he was supposed to do on July 15th in Fresno for unknown reasons.
I wasnít upset that I didnít get to meet Norm, I knew that that was a long shot to begin with. Noel had no success with his attempts, so why should I have faired better? I was just disappointed that the one time I get a chance to see a performance by the man who inspired me to peruse a career in comedy, the show gets canceled.
Fortunately, my trip to California wasnít a total loss. Instead of going to Normís show Bob and I went to Universal Studios. I had a great time. We also saw two Mel Gibson movies: The Patriot and Chicken Run. I enjoyed them both.
And my birthday wasnít a disaster either. Before I went on my trip to California, I got to see Bill Maher and Victoria Jackson perform right here in Las Vegas. On the day I got back from California, I saw a comedy show featuring Cathy Ladman and Steve Marmel. On my birthday, I saw Me, Myself, and Irene and I got some great gifts from people I love.
So, Norm may have flaked on me, but I still had a great 18th birthday. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if someone could have gotten Britney Spears and/or Christina Aguilera to pop out of a cake naked. Well, maybe next year.
Iíve still have the tickets for the show. I can either get a refund or I can use them to attend an October 20th show that Norm will supposedly be doing. Right now, Iím leaning toward the former.
Whatever the real reason was for the performanceís cancellation, I just hope that Norm is safe and healthy.
Fake News is Good News,