MAY 16, 1997 -- BY A.J. JACOBS
10 Stupid Questions:
Norm Macdonald is a little nervous. The comic is watching CNN cover the fifth anniversary of the Rodney King verdict from his L.A. hotel room when he realizes that another looting-crazed riot is due to break out. "Those VCRs only last about five years," he reasons. Well, at least the 34-year-old Canadian doesn't have to fret about his career: His snide "Weekend Update" segments and bizarre Bob Dole impressions were the highlight of this year's moderately resurgent Saturday Night Live. Herewith, Macdonald's end-of-season thoughts.
What would you compare working at SNL to?
I'd compare it to working in a coal mine every day. Except you only have to work on Saturdays for an hour.... I cut out early. I think it's cool to watch the end of the show at home.
What jokes were censored from this year's Weekend Updates?
They didn't want to deal with Fred Goldman. I wanted to do all these jokes about his mustache. He's such a sympathetic character, but at the same time he's got this crazy mustache that makes you laugh. He looks like he should be tying a girl to the train tracks.
On the April 12 Weekend Update you let the word f--- slip out. What happened?
That was weird. I just f---ing said it.
What was the reaction from NBC?
They were kind of mad. I had to phone them all and tell them I wouldn't do it anymore.... I'm surprised it doesn't happen all the time because that word is always on my mind. I find it's an excellent word because that way you don't need a large vocabulary.
Didn't Charles Rocket get kicked off SNL shortly after saying f---?
His face swept through my mind for a moment. But then I couldn't quite remember what his face looked like. And that worried me too.
Do you read a lot of newspapers for inspiration?
All I read really is sports and Marmaduke. That guy can't catch a break, that Marmaduke!
What are you doing over the summer?
I'm trying to write a comedy album. The dirty stuff I can't do on TV.
What about writing a book?
I don't want to do that because I'd feel too bad. Every time I see someone like Carrot Top with a book on the f---ing New York Times best-seller list, I feel sorry for some guy at home trying to write an actual book.
Are you going to volunteer this summer?
Maybe I'll be a volunteer fireman. That appeals to me for two reasons. The extreme danger and the complete lack of pay.
What's your favorite comedy phrase?
Crack whore. Because there's so much going on in that one phrase.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY LATER WROTE: Macdonald's bone-dry, delightfully offensive "Weekend Update" bits have helped make Saturday Night Live watchable again. How he does it: Naturally, Macdonald mines the newspaper, but inspiration can come from everyday life, too. "I get a lot of my jokes from bumper stickers, caps, mugs." Still, the real secret to his success is science. "In an effort to become more creative, I had the left side of my brain removed." What's next: Macdonald cowrote and will star in MGM's Dirty Work, about a loser who wreaks revenge for hire.
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