On Tuesday, the world was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of iconic comedian Norm Macdonald, who passed away at the age of 61 after a nearly decade-long battle with cancer, which he chose to keep private. While all of the late night hosts honored the late comedian, Seth Meyers had a special connection to Macdonald: In addition to both being former SNL alums, both men had spent some time anchoring the “Weekend Update” desk.
At the beginning of last night’s Late Night, Meyers took several minutes to pay tribute to the man whose path in which he followed and to share some of his most memorable moments with Macdonald. Meyers talked about how in 2015, as part of the SNL 40th Anniversary special, he shared the stage with Macdonald and fellow former “Weekend Update” hosts Colin Quinn and Kevin Nealon:
“It was a night where everyone just got a couple things to say, there were so many people there and it was really limited. The four of us had a little thing to say, I believe, if memory serves, before we introduced Chevy [Chase]. I remember we all said our line—myself and Colin and Kevin—and then Norm just started talking. And none of it was what he was supposed to say… I remember laughing really hard, not at what Norm was saying as much as the idea that any of us thought that Norm would play by anyone else’s rules. On any night.”
In addition to sharing his favorite all-time Norm joke (it’s the “two cakes” line in here), Meyers shared how Macdonald once told him that his favorite thing about SNL is that it’s “the last place on TV where you can [still] bomb.” That if a show was going poorly, “by the time ‘Update’ rolled around, you could literally just go out there and bomb. And that both made that level of difficulty both something that I think he really respected, and also… he just didn’t care if he was bombing. If he thought the jokes were good, he had exactly as much fun telling them to a dead audience than to one who appreciated them.” It was that kind of confidence that made Macdonald a comedian’s comedian, and one who everyone from Seth Rogen to Meyers has admitted to trying to emulate.
When Meyers admitted to Macdonald that one of the toughest parts of doing “Weekend Update” was “not telling every joke the way I thought Norm would tell it. I had to beat Norm’s delivery out of me… and I told him how hard that part was and he said, ‘I’m so glad to hear you say that because my son was watching you on Update and said to me: You talk like Seth Meyers. And he told me that when he said that, he said, ‘Oh no! My son doesn’t know how time works.’”
Meyers concluded by saying that Macdonald “the gold standard and he will continue to be the gold standard.”
You can watch the full segment above (and some of Macdonald’s best “Weekend Update” jokes below).