There are comedians more relevant to our times than Norm Macdonald, and there are comedians more important to the broader culture, but there are none funnier.
He’s not Lenny Bruce. He’s not Hannah Gadsby. He’s not Richard Pryor. He’s not going to leave you feeling enlightened. He’s not going to change your mind about a sociopolitical issue. He’s not heroic. He’s not capital-I Important, in the way that those truth-to-power standups are.
Maybe he should be. Almost certainly he could be. But, outside of a few wrongheaded comments related to the #MeToo movement (which he apologized for), he’s never seemed to have much interest in talking politics. What he does have, in a way that perhaps no other comedian of the past 30 years has, is a perfect understanding of funny.
I’ve watched and rewatched his 2008 set at the Comedy Central “Roast of Bob Saget,” an insanely risky anti-comedy routine that subverted the entire stale roast concept. If you haven’t seen it, look it up. It’s a work of art. And if you don’t like it, I don’t like you.
Not all his stuff is that experimental. Most of it is pretty straightforward. Still, nobody makes me laugh harder or more consistently than Norm Macdonald. I have spent hours watching YouTube compilations of his talk-show appearances. I bought his book as soon as it came out. Two copies, one for myself one for a gift. I’ve all but memorized his 2011 album “Me Doing Standup.”
To most people, he’s the guy who did a few good bits on “Saturday Night Live,” then got fired. But to people who have paid attention to his career, he is among the best comics to ever get behind a mic.
If you go
What: Norm Macdonald standup
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Legends Casino Hotel, 580 Fort Road in Toppenish