The Rocket
JUNE 10, 1998 -- BY JOE EHRBAR

Stormin' Norman

Until recently, Macdonald was best known for his dry, acerbic wit as "Saturday Night Live"'s news anchor, as well as for his cutting impersonations of former presidential candidate Bob Dole. Though he was one of the few writer/actors keeping the creatively sinking ship of "Saturday Night Live" afloat, he was canned earlier this year after several seasons. Now, Macdonald's writing and acting on the big screen. In 1996, he appeared in The People vs. Larry Flint. This summer, he'll do the voice of a dog in Dr. Doolittle (starring Eddie Murphy) and will start working on Pittsburg, by the writers of Ed Wood and The People vs. Larry Flint. He presently stars in the big-screen comedy Dirty Work (also starring Chevy Chase and the late Chris Farley, directed by Bob Saget).

Bob Saget, what are you nuts!?
[Laughs nervously.] Yeah. No, the reason I got Saget was because when I was young, I went to a comedy club and saw him, before he was on TV. He was really funny--sort of had a dark comic sense to him. Then he did all that bad TV. Then, when we were looking for directors, we were talking and he turned out to be this real cool, funny guy. He's humiliated by his body of work. He did it for money, you know. Then also, when I was acting, it was great because if he ever gave me notes, I'd go, "What are you talking about? You were on that show. It wasn't like Felini or anything."

So big-nose Bob was easy to work with?
Yeah, it was easy; he's really easygoing. He won an academy award when he was a kid. He did a college film when he was a kid. He really knows filmmaking well. It's funny, on the street he's very recognizable. He's like unbelievably famous.

Well, who could miss that schnoz?
Yeah. But everyone just recognizes him, they can never compliment him. They just say his name, "You're Bob Saget. You're Bob." But they never say he's great.

Is it true that Chevy Chase offered his services for free?
Yeah. Chevy was a good guy. He liked the script, because it reminded him of Animal House. He liked the politically incorrect part of it. He liked also that he could just be a breakout guy and he didn't have to be the lead. It's hard for a comic where you have to have a romantic interest and all that shit. He plays a doctor who's a compulsive gambler, so he got to do all his jokes and he liked that. We wrote it specifically for him. When I was a kid, he was my favorite guy on "SNL."

What about your character? Did you have to suffer through all that "romantic" stuff?
As little as possible. We didn't have any in the script and the studio made us put it in. So it's there for a tiny bit.

Tell us about your character.
He's just this dude who gets fired from all his jobs, and he's no good at anything. Which is what I was like before I got into show business. The only thing he's good at is getting back at the guys who fire him. So then he opens a revenge business and he gets revenge for people. And he just fucks over people.

Sounds like fun.
Yeah, it was fun. Actually it was hard, because a lot of the [revenge tactics] we thought of, we couldn't do, because the studio was afraid people might actually do them.... Farley's in the movie; that's the coolest.

I didn't know that.
He just did it for nothing. We kind of wrote [the part] with him as we went. Farley was a really great writer, you know. He plays a guy who got his nose bit off by a whore. So he has no nose. It's his actual last movie.

How did you get into show business?
I started out as a writer on the "Roseanne" show. Then I went to "Saturday Night Live" and wrote. I [started acting] on "Saturday Night Live" from writing. And then when I was on "Saturday Night Live," I always wrote all my own stuff.

Which leads to my next question: Why did NBC fire you--the talent with the only talent on the show?
I don't know, they never told me. The president guy, Don Omeyer, said I wasn't funny. But that seemed kind of odd. The president of the network doesn't usually get involved, especially in a late-night show. So it was really odd. His best friend is O.J. Simpson, so a lot of people thought it was that--you know, because we made fun of O.J. all the time. I did a couple of O.J. jokes every single week [laughs]. We were relentless. We never stopped, even after it was over. Isn't that weird, that your best friend's O.J.?

Have you had to do any Bob Dole impersonations today?
Not yet.

So since this is a music magazine, what are your listening to these days?
I listen to country music. George Jones. Do you know him?

He's fuckin' great. I like Bob Dylan's new album. And then I love that goddamn Pearl Jam. Ever see them?

Actually, are they from Seattle?

Goddamn, those guys are amazing. Ever see them live?

I have.
That's an intense dude, that Eddie Vedder.

Where have you seen them?
On "Saturday Night Live." It was really funny, because everybody was trying to get near Eddie Vedder, because he's like this super-cool guy. And Eddie Vedder was running around trying to find Sandler, because he wanted to do "Opera Man." Eddie Vedder loves doing Sandler characters; it's hilarious.

© 1998 The Rocket, Joe Ehrbar