By Rashmi Goel
It Was Recorded In His Living Room During The Pandemic
Norm Macdonald had a very private life. The Saturday Night Live star was an old-fashioned comedian who spent most of his time throwing out hilarious anecdotes without devolving into particulars about his private life. Based on True Story, his 2016 memoir, favored fabulism and absurdism over being a strictly accurate autobiography. Macdonald's fans only saw a passing glimpse of his life when he performed on stage, and finding out that he died of acute leukemia in September, at 61, after fighting it for nearly a decade, proved shocking and incredibly upsetting. It's still hard to believe that the late comedian left behind so many long-kept secrets several months after his death. As THR revealed that Macdonald loved surprises. One final, secret stand-up special was filmed by the Dirty Work actor/writer in the summer of 2020, entirely in his living room. When the comedian needed to go to the hospital, the results did not look good, and he had to work on the new Netflix comedy show. The night before his procedure, Macdonald filmed his special out of fear. In the words of Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald's long-term collaborator, he wanted to "get this on tape just in case things didn't work out." Due to the pandemic, no locations were open or available for the late-game special to be taped. To get it out of his system in case the operation proved fatal, Macdonald filmed the entire thing in one take in his house, with no audience. After the surgery was successful, Macdonald decided to put the recording "in a closet." However, when Macdonald's health continued to decline, it soon became apparent that he would not be able to screen the special in person. Afterward, Macdonald asked Hoekstra to find the footage they shot so he could reevaluate it.
The title that Macdonald gave the video is self-deprecatingly fitting: Nothing Special. Netflix will release Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special on May 30th, a little seven months after the comedian died. No Special could mark a first for Netflix, as well as comedy in general. Netflix has become a fairly commonplace for popular stand-up specials. There is no comparable experience, as the article notes. It doesn't seem like Bo Burnham: Inside, which aired in 2021, would compare well to this recording. The following is what Hoekstra said about this final Macdonald's special: I've talked to a number of my friends in comedy and production who haven't heard of anything like this [situation] - not even close... The fact that I can share it with him makes me so happy, but I'm also sad that we can't. I don't think he did it just for shock's sake. The reason he shot it was because he loved his material. After all his hard work, it would have been very frustrating for him not to be able to show everyone. During the standup, he did it in memoriam. Hopefully, people will appreciate that he did that.
Norm will also be included along with clips from the Netflix Is a Joke Fest, where Adam Sandler, Conan O'Brien, Dave Chapelle, David Letterman, David Spade, and Molly Shannon discussed the late comedian and his indelible contributions to comedy. A recording of the conversation was made earlier this month. It didn't matter whether it was with a funny line, a poignant thought, or his untimely death, Macdonald knew how to surprise his audience, and this unearthed special is just one more - sadly the last. Netflix will premiere Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special on May 30.