From Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy to Adam Sandler and Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live has given rise to some of the biggest names in American comedy. For some, SNL is a stepping stone to greatness. For others, it's still a rocky road through show business. For deadpan comic Norm Macdonald, former host of SNL's "Weekend Update," the path has been filled with a variety of beloved but commercially unsuccessful projects in movies, TV, and online media.
Norm never reached the heights of fellow SNL alumni like Will Ferrell or Chris Rock, but he has carved out an enduring niche in the world of humor. With the power of hindsight, we can reevaluate Norm's misses and see them for the gems they were. Below are the biggest Norm Macdonald movies and Norm Macdonald shows, ranked in order of the most underrated.
- Photo: Netflix
Debuted: September 14, 2018
How Did It End: Without much fanfare, Norm Macdonald Has a Show was quietly canceled after its initial run of 10 episodes. No formal announcement was made, but Netflix ceased producing most of its talk shows a year later.
Why Was It Underrated: Norm's most recent effort was an extension of his popular podcast, Norm Macdonald Live. The show was able to land some stellar guests, including David Letterman, Jane Fonda, Drew Barrymore, and SNL producer Lorne Michaels. Reviews were not kind. Worse yet, Norm found himself in the middle of a firestorm for comments that seemed to defend disgraced comedians Roseanne Barr and Louis C.K. But the show did highlight Norm's surreal, flippant charms. It might not have been a mainstream sort of talk show, but it did shake up the format with a dash of knowing, postmodern wit.Underrated?
- Photo: Comedy Central6
Sports Show with Norm Macdonald
Lasted From: April 12, 2011-June 7, 2011
How It Ended: Sports Show was canceled by Comedy Central after nine episodes.
Why It Was Underrated: It's almost impossible to do a humorous sports talk show. Many have tried and failed: Bill Simmons, Joe Buck, Keith Olbermann. Add Norm to the list, as his irreverent attempt to meld his comedic sensibilities, honed on "Weekend Update," to sports news programs like SportsCenter was yanked from Comedy Central after just one season.
While the format was all over the place - with Tosh.0-esque clip commentary, news headline one-liners, and field pieces making for awkward bedfellows - Sports Show might be TV's best attempt at blending sports with comedy in years. That's thanks to both Norm's keen understanding of what makes sports funny and his own talent for delivering the news with a smirk. Once again, critics praised Norm's unique, deadpan style, even if network executives didn't get the joke.Underrated?
- Photo: Fox7
A Minute with Stan Hooper
Lasted From: October 29-December 12, 2003
How It Ended: Only six episodes aired before Fox canceled the show.
Why It Was Underrated: A Minute with Stan Hooper saw Norm portray the eponymous character, a newspaper columnist turned TV star who moves to a small town in Wisconsin to learn more about what the average American thinks. The cast included Penelope Anne Miller as Norm's wife, Molly, and Garret Dillahunt, who would go on to join the cast of HBO's Deadwood.
While Stan Hooper sounds like a pretty average fish-out-of-water sitcom about Midwestern eccentrics, Norm had bigger goals in mind. He told Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times that his grand plan was to use Stan Hooper as a means of satirizing the sitcom format. "I thought I could make a subversive show that looked like a regular show," Macdonald said. "When I was a kid, I loved Green Acres, so that was the blueprint I stole for that show."
As part of that plan, Molly Hooper, the wife character, was going to be offed by a drifter at the end of the first season. According to Norm, the Fox network executives "wanted to do it in the first episode, and I was like, no, no, that would make no sense. We've got to trick the audience. We've got to lull the audience into complacency." Stan Hooper was canceled before Norm got a chance to try his brand of dark comedy on broadcast TV.Underrated?