Seth Meyers pays tribute to Norm Macdonald, his biggest “Weekend Update” influence

Norm Macdonald, the brilliant, inimitable comedian who anchored the “Weekend Update” segment on “Saturday Night Live” for three seasons in the 1990s and was arguably the greatest talk show guest any late-night show could ever interview, died on Tuesday after a private struggle with cancer. He was 61.

On Tuesday’s “Late Night,” Seth Meyers, who followed Macdonald at the “Weekend Update” anchor’s desk, paid tribute to his predecessor. Meyers didn’t get sentimental, because that’s not what Macdonald would have wanted, and so the host just shared some great things he heard Macdonald say over the years. 

One memory was from Meyers’ first season on “SNL” in 2001. Macdonald came to visit with his young son, and someone asked him how being a dad was going. “It’s going great,” Macdonald answered. “Still no abductions.” 

Next, Meyers shared his “favorite ‘Weekend Update’ joke of all time,” which he described as “a perfect Norm joke.” Describing the 10th birthday party for Athena Onassis, the daughter of a billionaire, Meyers recalled that Macdonald said, “What’s it like to be the richest girl in the world? Well, to give you some idea, at the party they had two cakes.” 

Meyers delivered the joke in Macdonald’s deadpan cadence and later said that when he started doing “Weekend Update,” he had to work really hard to make sure he wasn’t just doing a Norm Macdonald impression because Macdonald’s style was so influential. But it didn’t really work; Macdonald’s son was watching Meyers on “SNL” and told him that he “talk[ed] like Seth Meyers,” Meyers recalled Macdonald telling him. 

Meyers remembered standing next to Macdonald at the “SNL” 40th anniversary celebration in 2015 when Macdonald went totally off-script instead of reading his prepared remarks. “I remember laughing really hard, not at what Norm was saying as much as the idea that any of us thought that Norm would play by anyone else’s rules,” he said. 

Macdonald was “the gold standard,” Meyers said. He encouraged everyone watching to seek out Macdonald telling the moth story on “Conan,” or any of his other extraordinary bits.

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