The hosts of late-night paid their respects on Tuesday to Norm Macdonald, who passed away earlier in the day following a private nine-year battle with cancer.
Macdonald’s fellow Saturday Night Live alum Jimmy Fallon was clearly emotional on The Tonight Show as he reminisced about his first time meeting the late comedian. Fallon recalled how he told Macdonald he was “the best,” though Macdonald refused to accept the compliment given that he was sitting next to another comedy legend at the time: Bob Newhart.
Meanwhile, over on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Meyers, who headed the Weekend Update desk at SNL like Fallon and Macdonald before him, referred to Macdonald as “the gold standard” in comedy. “I would just suggest that everybody go watch him tell the moth story on Conan, go watch any number of Norm Macdonald things tonight, because they are really, truly timeless,” Meyers said.
Like Fallon, Meyers also recalled the first time he met Macdonald backstage at SNL. “I don’t remember how old his son was at the time, but his son was young, and someone said, ‘Hey Norm, how’s being a dad?’ And he said, ‘It’s going great. Still no abductions.’ That’s the first thing I ever heard him say in-person.”
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert, who briefly worked on SNL as a guest writer during Macdonald’s stint on Weekend Update, struggled to come up with a fitting a joke for the moment. “I wish I were a good enough comedian to come up with a joke right now about Norm Macdonald having died. But the only comedian I know who could get away with a ‘Norm Macdonald is dead joke,’ is Norm Macdonald,” Colbert said.
Finally, James Corden paid tribute on The Late Late Show, dedicating his opening monologue to Macdonald. “All Norm ever wanted to do was to make us laugh, and he was absolutely brilliant at it,” Corden said. “There was nobody quite like him. I felt privileged any time I got to be in his orbit. He leaves us as one of the all-time great comics, perhaps the single greatest guest in the history of late-night television, I think.”