Norm Macdonald Dead at 61: Comedian’s Reflection on Life in 2016 Memoir is Heartbreakingly Honest

by Quentin Blount
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Despite battling cancer, stand-up comedian Norm Macdonald has always remained positive. That was his outlook on life up until his very last days.

Norm Macdonald passed away on Tuesday at 61 years old. According to reports, the legendary comic had been battling cancer for nearly a decade. But he kept his health struggles out of the public eye. The Quebec City native will without a doubt be remembered for his role on Saturday Night Live from 1993 until 1998. He wrote about his time on the show and his entire career journey in a 2016 memoir, Based on a True Story: Not A Memoir.

“I think a lot of people feel sorry for you if you were on SNL and emerged from the show anything less than a superstar. They assume you must be bitter,” he wrote. “But it is impossible to be bitter. I’ve been lucky. If I had to sum up my whole life, I guess those are the words I would choose, all right.”

Norm Macdonald was lucky. Those were his thoughts despite having to battle cancer for nine years. After all, he grew up as just another boy in Canada. And at the time, he never thought he’d make it out to see the world, let alone become one of the most successful stand-up comedians in television history.

“When I was a boy, I was sure I’d never make it past Moose Creek, Ontario, Canada,” he admitted. “But I’ve been all over this world. Except for Europe, Australia, Africa, and South America. Oh, and Antarctica. But that’s really splitting hairs. I mean, how many people have been to Antarctica?”

Norm Macdonald: From Boy in Canada to Legendary Comedian

So, Norm Macdonald admitted in his memoir that he never thought he would make it out of Canada. As a matter of fact, he honestly believed that he was going to be just an average laborer. And according to the Saturday Night Live alum, he would have still been “lucky to have achieved that.”

“But I was blessed with so much more,” he continued. “I’m a stand-up comedian and have been for over a quarter of a century. I’ve performed thousands of hours, from a small club in Ottawa, Ontario, all the way to a small club in Edmonton, Alberta. Sometimes I get big laughs and think I’m the best stand-up in the whole world, and other times I bomb, and I think I’m not even in the top five.”

It’s hard to say who the top five comedians of all time are, but there is no doubt about it — Norm Macdonald was without a doubt one of the most beloved. Stars from every which industry have paid tribute to Macdonald all across social media. Some of those include Jeopardy’s Ken Jennings, Conan O’Brian, Jon Stewart, Adam Sandler, Seth Rogan, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Meghan McCain, and many more.

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