Late Night with Conan O'Brien
MARCH 1996 (NBC)
CONAN: You must be happy about this whole Michael Jackson thing, y'know your in the news; that's good stuff in the news.
NORM: Yeah, he merged with Prince, and they're--uh--getting all their money together, and he's going to open a theme park, and they were saying--i got kind of a scope, y'know--their first ride is going to be the Homosexual Pedophiles of the Caribbean.
CONAN: Are you sure that's true, Norm? Are you sure that's absolutely true?
NORM: Somebody told me that, I don't know. All the information I get, I never remember where I get it. It could be from like Time magazine or Shakespeare, it could be something I read on a wall in the bathroom.
CONAN: Sure, you never know what's going on. What do you care, you're not a real newsman anyway
NORM: No, I don't like the paper.
CONAN: You were a Star Search contestant, once weren't you?
NORM: Yeah, when I first started, it was a special Star Search 'cause I was from Canada, so it was international Star Search. They do it once a year, and what they do, is they get people from all over the world, y'know? Stars of the future, y'know what I mean? And then, uh, I was in the comedy category, y'know the comedians?
CONAN: Oh good for you! (laughter) Yeah, how'd you work that one out?
NORM: So, I was representing Canada, y'know? And then I was up against a guy, he was representing Africa, he was an African guy. So he was much more international than I was. He had like a gown, y'know? Tribal gown. And he wore one of them hats they wear, and uh, I didn't have a hat. (Audience laughter.) So I just looked like a regular lame stand-up, I had my suit on, like now. So I went out there, I was excited, y'know? It was America to me, y'know? I'm from Canada, Star Search, I thought I'll become a star.
CONAN: (laughs) Hence the name "Star Search".
NORM: Yeah if you win, right? So I go out there, and I'm excited, man. I went out there, and they like a clock, y'know you only got to do two minutes, and at that time I had about two minutes.
CONAN: So this is going to work out well, you thought?
NORM: And I go out, and everybody hates my guts, and it's like dead silence, there's like no one laughing at all.
CONAN: And the clock starts to run; the minute gets going.
NORM: See the clock going down. And about after a minute and a half you know you're not-not much chance. You know, winning them back? And uh, I think some people thought I was in a different category. (Audience & Conan laughter) Nobody laughing is the worst thing-and you know there are like Canadian flags behind me.
CONAN: Oh God! Oh no, really?
NORM: And then one time, I remember the worst part, I looked over Ed McMahon, he was like glaring at me like a mean look.
CONAN: Ed McMahon glaring at you?
NORM: Yeah, he wasn't even laughing, that's his job! (Audience & Conan laughter) He was taking some time off.
CONAN: I've never seen him glare.
NORM: Oh, oh, it was mean. Mean glare. Then I got off, I was shaking, you know, I was like stunned. And then my manager agents they were like idiots, you know? And so they, they go like uh "It was good!" You know? "It was great!" They were shaking my hand, and so I go "Really? Hey you think it was good, I worked out, huh?" They go "Yeah, yeah." "Oh man!" I go, "But nobody was laughing, you know?" They go "No, no, that's the way it is on this show. No, don't worry about that." And then as they're standing, you know, the African guy comes on? He says one joke, they laugh for two minutes, you know? (Conan laughter) It's like huge laughter, I can't even hear him, I go "What?" The guy's going "They like you!"
CONAN: So what happened, what was the end result here?
NORM: The end result, you know they have judges that make up your score. So the most humiliating thing for me you know you lost you have to go back out with the guy. It's like stand there. And then Ed McMahon's he's just, you know (imitates McMahon's voice) "Another tough decision for the judges!" (A&C huge laughter) That was actually the first time I heard laughter during the whole thing. And the judges, it was like, uh, three guys, Robin Leech was the only guy I knew, and there were three other guys. So this was my score, I got three quarters of a star.
CONAN: They actually? They can cut a star up?
NORM: What happens is, three guys give you one star, and one guy, and I think it was Robin Leech, gives you no stars.
CONAN: You got three quarters of a star and you lost?
NORM: Yeah, he got four stars. And then afterwards, you go to this place, and it's like a room, and it's a party after the show. Everybody's there, and all the winners are like in one section, happy. And then you're like sitting there with the Nicaraguan Junior Dancers.
CONAN: (laughs) We would call them the losers, yeah.
NORM: There was a guy, man, he lived down the road, his name was John Neil McJarrison. And this guy, I went to him once, I had been away for a couple years, you know, and moved to the city, you know? And uh, I came back, and I said "John Neil, how are you doing? What do you got, farm?" So he showed me his pigs, and he had a bunch of them. One of the pigs had a wooden leg, so I thought that was odd, you know? So I says to him, I says "John Neil, that's odd, there what's that pig, what's the story with that pig?" So John Neil, he goes "Oh man, Norm, that's a special pig. You wouldn't believe that pig!" So I go "Yeah, well tell me about it." He goes "That pig, you wouldn't believe it! Last winter, the house burned down, you know you probably heard, the house burned down. And me and the wife were sleeping in our bed, and we never would have heard, we never would have woken up. But that pig, he broke out of his pen, he ran all the way to the house, and he went up to the bed room window. And he starts hitting his little snout on a window." And he says "Me and the wife, we woke up, and we escaped that infernal!" He didn't use the word "infernal", he's just a farmer.
CONAN: (laughs) You threw that in there!
NORM: Yeah, he says "We escaped that conflagration, you know?" So I go "Man that's quite a special, quite a story about the pig." He goes "Oh man, it doesn't stop there, I go really?" and he goes "Yeah, just later after that, like the following summer, me and the wife were plowing a north 40, and our little boy, only two years old, man, fell into the well, and all along, and no way we could do anything, we were plowing." (giant laughter) He says "We didn't hear," you know? And says "Man, we're getting older, we're probably not going to have another kid. That kid means everything to us." And I go, "I know, John Neil, I know that. You don't have to tell me that." So he says "That's that very same pig. He heard the child's wailing, plaintiff cry." He didn't say plaintiff, you know he's a farmer. (laughter) "He heard, he heard the child, he broke out of his pen, he ran all the way to the well, he look down, there was that poor son of mine, Billy, you know down at the bottom of the well." He says "The pig, he took his snout there, he started pulling up on a rope, and the kid got right out!" And I go "Oh man, that's great, isn't it? I go man, that's the greatest story I ever heard. Man, oh, what a pig! What a pig that is!" I said "One question, though, John Neil, he's got a wooden leg, I don't understand that part! Pig's got a wooden leg over there." John Neil goes "What are you crazy, though? A great pig like that, you can't eat him all at once!" (Huge laughter & applause)
Thank you Matt Hebert for sharing his collection with us, and Cody Snook for transcribing this appearance.