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Norm Doing Standup

 

SNL veteran still has the knack on masterful special

 

By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief

 

Former SNL Weekend Update anchor Norm MacDonald has returned to the comedy spotlight with “The Sports Show” as well as a new set of material, to be released on CD, MP3 and DVD on June 14, called “Me Doing Stand-Up.” A version of this special aired about a month ago on Comedy Central. In this performance, MacDonald plays on his biggest comedic asset, the tone of his delivery, to effectively sell the humor.

 

MacDonald’s mastery of timing and sardonic delivery is evident in many pieces on the album. One is “Courageous Battle,” where he talks of how an uncle’s death due to cancer might euphemistically be described as “losing his battle” with the disease. “I’ll tell you what that battle is …” MacDonald says. “It’s sitting in a hospital room watching ‘Matlock.’” And this obfuscating practice of calling it a battle makes anyone who doesn’t make it a “loser,” says MacDonald, driving home his point. In anyone else’s hands, or delivered seriously, this would be deemed mean and cruel, but with the wink always present in MacDonald’s voice, it’s funny.

 

Coupled with this knack for deadpan sarcasm, MacDonald also scores by archly using old-style terms and ways of speaking. Talking about “Tiger Woods,” in another piece, MacDonald repeatedly talks about Tiger’s associations with “the ladies,” and “laying down with the ladies.” He brings it around to posing the question, “what do you think he’s going to do after winning a tournament, go back to his room and sit alone with a chicken sandwich from room service?” But again, this quotation, without MacDonald’s delivery, doesn’t do the humor justice. What reads as crass or male chauvinist is spoken with impish mischief and gives it a different spin.

 

There’s also a certain intricacy in MacDonald’s material. In “Sex,” he’ll digress about the shame aspect of it, saying “you wouldn’t draw the blinds to bake a cherry pie for old Witta Hamilton,” and then going on about how the “community” comes together to do this, and without that, “I don’t know if the old bird would still be with us,” before concluding, “but my point was – sex,” as he returns to the matter at hand. Through this winding turn, which comes about midway through the special, MacDonald clearly has his audience along for the ride.

 

One test of a great stand-up special is when it’s just as funny or even funnier with repeated listens, and it makes you want to quote pieces of it to your friends. MacDonald has definitely done this with “Me Doing Standup,” and made it a must have album.

 

 

   

     

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