Comedian and SNL vet Norm Macdonald suddenly passed away on Tuesday after a long and private battle with cancer. For decades he was one of the most distinctive voices in comedy. His dry, don’t-give-a-f*ck style was polarizing, especially when he was a regular cast member (and Weekend Update host) on the most famous live sketch comedy show on television. Some hated it; a lot loved it. He changed comedy, and his influence can be felt everywhere.
One of the many who was inspired by Macdonald was Seth Rogen. In many ways, they’re different. Rogen is far more earnest than the mischievously detached Macdonald. But they share a deadpan style, which Rogen admitted he got from him. In fact, when he started out he wanted to be him.
Oh fuck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting. I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) September 14, 2021
“Oh f*ck. I was a huge fan of Norm Macdonald and I essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting,” Rogen wrote after news of his passing broke. “I would stay up specifically to watch him on talk shows. He was the funniest guest of all time. We lost a comedy giant today. One of the the all time greats. RIP.”
Indeed, if you watch Rogen’s early performances on Freaks and Geeks, where he got his start, you see a very different Rogen. He’s much more sarcastic and withering, with a flat, matter-of-fact delivery that’s clearly indebted to Macdonald. Over the course of the show’s one-and-done season, you can see Rogen’s style evolve. By the last episode, he’s found his voice. But perhaps he only got there by attempting a straight-up impersonation of Norm Macdonald.
The two did get to eventually appear in a movie together, in the same scene, but not face-to-face. Macdonald cameoed as himself in Judd Apatow’s Funny People, ribbing Adam Sandler’s comedy star George Simmons at a party celebrating him overcoming a major health scare. Rogen, as the up-and-comer and Simmons pal, winds up hanging with Ray Romano. You can watch the scene below.
In the meantime, feel free to drown your sorrows in the many, many, many amazing Macdonald clips being shared online. Rest in peace.