David Letterman, Dave Chappelle, Adam Sandler, Conan O’Brien, Molly Shannon and David Spade shared memories of the death of their friend Norm MacDonald at the end of the late comedian’s new comedy Norm MacDonald: Nothing Special.
After watching a McDonald’s show that was taped at his home, friends of the late “Saturday Night Live” star discussed his impact on the world of comedy. During their conversation, many of them admitted that they did not know that the star, who died in September 2021 after a nine-year battle with cancer, was ill.
“I don’t know how everyone here felt, but Norm has been sick for a long time, and he got sick and I didn’t know and talked to a lot of people I was sure knew,” O’Brien said. I thought, ‘Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t know. …he didn’t want anyone to know, and because I’m such a self-absorbed person, I think many of us, thought, ‘Is he mad at me?’ Is there anything you did? Because we kept trying to get him to come back and we couldn’t. He couldn’t do it because I don’t think he was ready for it. He didn’t want to answer questions about maybe, you know, his looks or anything, but I remembered when he was gone, it was everyone in the community—we all thought we were the only ones who didn’t know, and we were also upset that we didn’t get a chance to tell him what he meant to us.”
Chappelle also said he didn’t know MacDonald was sick.
“The last time I saw him was at the Comedy Store, and he was uncharacteristically emotional. Like when we parted company, he was. There’s a picture of me and him and Chris Rock’s head back—I put it in mine,” Chappelle said. The End of The Closer – It was the last time I saw him. He climbed up, stood behind me, and I realized he was standing to take the photo, in hindsight, like a gift. It was a very fitting farewell.”
Shannon said MacDonald sounded like an “urgency” for the words he shared with her when they crossed paths on Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary show.
“I saw him on SNL’s 40th anniversary, and I didn’t know he had cancer or anything, but I remember as soon as he saw me, he was like, ‘I love you, Molly. “He just blew it up right away,” she said. “I was so impressed, I felt he had that kind of urgency to say exactly what was on his mind at the moment. …and I was just like, “Oh, something different with Norm.”
Sandler and Speed discussed a pose tour they had with MacDonald and Rob Schneider, with Sandler noting that their friend expressed his feelings during the trip.
“He got a lot emotional though,” Sandler said. “Just like the whole tour, he would suddenly have tears in his eyes and cry and say, ‘That’s cool,’” Sandler recalls. “Just like the tour itself and I like hanging out and we’ll have dinner and breakfasts, and it was more than that—it would be so much fun to see. He had a lot of energy to hang on to.”