Norm MacDonald has new sports show on Comedy Central that premieres April 12 at 10:30pm Eastern. The show is fittingly titled “Sports Show With Norm MacDonald.” Norm was good enough to let me interview him about the show, his stand up, his career and, you guessed it, Frank Stallone. The first half of the interview can be found here. The Saget Roast, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Stan Hooper and other things are covered after the jump.
SD: Would you describe your humor as sort of “anti-humor?”
Norm MacDonald: Um, no. Some of it. A little bit. It depends. I like to fuck around with comedy sometimes. I experiment with it. Like with stand up, I don’t do any anti-humor because its just not fair to the audience, you know, when they’re paying and stuff like that. Sometimes when I’m not being paid or something.
SD: Like the Saget Roast?
NM: Yeah, like the Saget Roast. That was just a little bit of an experiment. I can’t insult people. I don’t know how to insult people and call them names and stuff. Because I would feel really bad because everything you say, it has to be like true, you know, or it doesn’t make any sense. So I couldn’t do that. I could never do it to a great actor or somebody I didn’t really know. I couldn’t say, “Oh, Betty White, what’s wrong with your vagina?” Whatever the fuck they say. I couldn’t even look at, I couldn’t even think of doing it. So Saget kept bugging me to do it. And then I thought of this idea on the last day. I said, alright, I’ll do it. And then that day, I was going to do it I was thinking what the fuck am I going to do? And then I thought it would be a fun experiment to try to do – ‘Cuz comedy is like a number of things and one is the joke, it has to be funny.
NM: So I thought I would do jokes that aren’t funny. Another thing is delivery. So what if I did the delivery wrong also. All that would be left would be context. Just the idea of someone doing bad jokes. I got the idea because the guy told me, you’ve got to be shocking. The producer of the show, “Just try to be shocking!” So I thought, well, that would be the most shocking thing to do would be… I found the jokes in a book my dad gave me when I was a kid called Jokes For Retirement Parties. When I started stand up, that’s when he gave it to me. It was really sweet of him. Like he had this stupid, fucking corny book, “Hey maybe this will help.” And its all these jokes for a guy’s retirement party. I’ll just take the jokes out of there. There are all these super old references. But that was just a little experiment. It angered a lot of people.
SD: I have to say, the clip is one my friends’ and my favorite roast segments.
NM: Oh really? Cool. Sometimes, it’s hard to do. You don’t know what you’re doing because when you’re standing up there. The entire time I was staring into the scowling face of Alan Thicke. He was like sitting at a table. And he just fucking hated me the entire time.
SD: So you won’t be doing roasts again anytime soon?
NM: No, you can only do that once.
SD: Is the biggest regret in your career passing on the million dollar question.
NM: Yeah. (No hesitation whatsoever.)
NM: Yeah, thanks for bringing that up. I really do – I do think about that a lot. I fucking think about that a lot. And actually, that had to do with gambling also, strangely enough. Because there were two – there was a big mistake I made in that. Which is I thought Regis knew the answer to the fucking questions. And it turned out later that people told me no he doesn’t know the answer. So I thought he was giving me verbal clues, like “Are you sure?” And I’d go “Yeah, it’s the Southern Cross.” And he’d go, “Are you sure? You can use your lifeline.” I’d go, “Oh, OK. I guess.” So I fucking threw away all my lifelines with ones I knew and I get to the fucking last one, pretty fucking sure I know it…
NM: What happened was during the commercials we were backstage. And Regis is a huge fan of Notre Dame. So we’re watching Notre Dame play and I had like fifty-thousand dollars on the game. And Regis was like “What the fuck? What’s wrong with you?” I had money on the game and I told him how much. So then when we got back, now when I watch the fucking clip, which I’ve seen like 200 times to relive my nightmare. When I fucking saw it, suddenly I realized when I saw the clip, he goes, “You’ve got a bit of a gambling streak in ya don’t ya? You want to beat the game.” And was like, “Holy fuck, he thinks I’m on…” Now when I look back on it, I thought he was saying “Fuck it! Don’t fuckin.. It’s the wrong answer. Do no fucking risk it.” You know what I mean? But now looking back at it, he saw some fucking idiot fucking backstage sweating like a pig watching the Notre Dame game. He thought I was just wildly guessing at the final answer. But yeah, man. I wanted the balloons and money to fall down so fucking much. If you don’t win it all, you’ve fucking lost in my opinion.
SD: I’m sorry for taking you to that dark place.
NM: Yeah, man. That was cruel. And fucking thing lives in forever on the fucking computer. Honestly, I almost never watch myself, but I’ve watched that so many fucking times. Just like masochistically.
(It should be noted that Norm was also laughing while telling that story. I didn’t dare ask him if Paul Newman ever had the chance to yell at him.)
SD: How do you like hosting High Stakes Poker?
NM: Oh, I love that. That’s really, really fun. You know, I’m a little bit conflicted because I really love poker and I love Gabe Kaplan. You know, Gabe Kaplan is a way better poker player than me and a way better poker analyst than me. He’s really fucking good. He’s my favorite poker analyst. I was kind of bummed that he left because I’d rather watch him than me, but it’s fun to do. It’s kind of hard to do because you see their hole cards and its hard to go, like, “What the fuck’s this guy thinking? Clearly the other guy has a 6!” So I was trying to do it – I was saying, “Can we block the cards from me?” That’s how I did it. I got them to block the hole cards for me so I wouldn’t see the fucking hole cards. All these guys, they can see the hole cards so it’s so easy to be like “What’s this guy? Why is he? It’s obviously a bluff.” If you hide the hole cards its way harder to do. Then its real game.
SD: Which brings me to my next question, have you ever run into OJ or Frank Stallone?
NM: I did run into OJ actually. Frank Stallone, I met his brother and he told me a funny story. He was like, “Hey, take it easy on Frank.” I said fucking, “Yes sir!” He told me this funny story. He said when he did Rocky in Philadelphia, he said right after he did Rocky, his brother decided to become a boxer. Frank, you know. So says fucking everybody in Philadelphia beat the shit out of him. Like, “Hey, I get to beat up Rocky’s brother!” I guess Frank was never the same after that. All these ring guys were like, yeah where’s Rocky’s brother?
NM: Yeah, I did bump into O.J. once at a golf course.
SD: Did he know who you were?
NM: It was fucking so bizarre because I was with Kato. (As you’ll see in the Millionaire clips above, Norm and Kato were friends.) I was golfing with Kato and, uh, he was like on the next green. And Kato said, “Let’s run away.” I was like, no. Let’s go talk to him and he’s like, “No, no.” But Kato was my ride, so I had to go with him so I didn’t get to meet O.J. But I have a feeling that O.J. wouldn’t give a fuck. I don’t think even think he’d be mad. I remember one time he was interviewed by Chris Myers after the murder -I mean after the acquittal. All the questions were about the murder, you know? Then at the end, O.J. says, “Oh, by the way, Thanks for all the football questions.” As if he’s going to ask him football questions. It was so funny.
SD: When was the last time you went out for a beer with Don Ohlmeyer?
NM: I have nothing against Ohlmeyer. He’s a good guy. He invented the Skins game. I always like Ohlmeyer because I always likes sports and he did so much big shit in sports. He just fucking didn’t know anything about comedy. It’s not his fault. He’s just a big idiot. I mean, hey man, he invented the skins game. He’s a good guy.
SD: Which show do you wish you could bring back, if either: Norm or A Minute With Stan Hooper?
NM: If I could bring it back? I’m kind of uncomfortable acting, so I’d much rather do Weekend Update or the sports show, but between the two, I would rather bring back Stan Hooper.
NM: Because I had an idea for Stan Hooper that never got realized. You know? Stan Hooper was like this experiment I was doing that never got off the ground. The idea of it was, it was supposed to be like a traditional show and then at the end of the first year, a drifter comes into town and kills my wife. And then the next thing I wanted to change was make it crazy, to lure the audience into thinking it was one show and then just fucking do a hay-maker at the end of the season, but they never let me get that far. They knew what I was going to do. I explained it to them and they agreed with it and everything, but it never got there. It was all set up and it was becoming more subversive every show, but only did like 10 shows or something.
NM: I had it mapped out for like 25 shows, exactly what would happen. We only got to ten. They thought it was some wholesome show. The audience didn’t know what was going to happen. One of my many failed experiments.
SD: Are you still close with any of the guys from SNL cast?
NM: Looking back on it those guys were… I knew at the time they were the funniest guys in the world, but there was Sandler, Farley, Spade, Rock had left, but he was still hanging around… And I knew most of them from stand up anyway. We weren’t really sketch actors. We were just like.. Just to be in the room with them. Sandler throws me into a movie once in a while. Kevin Farley’s out here. We stay close. Sandler, Spade, Schneider, Tim Meadows. We all hang out still. It was such great fun. I was lucky to be with those guys. They were the funniest guys. Especially Chris Farley.
Unfortunately, the interview ended here. I was getting ready to ask him about Artie and honestly would have sat and listened to him talk until security dragged me out of the building. When a PR person told him I had traveled all the way from Albany, he let loose a patented, “Good lord!” To quote Chris Farley, “That was awesome.”
|Sports Show with Norm Macdonald|
[Image: Comedy Central / Patrik Giardino]