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RIP Norm Macdonald

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    #26
    I can see that.

    It might be worth knowing that most of the time, what gets on the air at SNL is what the studio audience laughs at* the most out of the much larger pool of dress-rehearsal sketches and its not usually the stuff that the cast and writers like the most.

    It's a notoriously shitty audience of "tourists" (everyone hates a tourist, but we're all tourists eventually) who are mostly interested in seeing classic characters, walk-ons from famous people and impersonations of famous people in the news. The stuff that actually holds up many years later and is remembered fondly is very often stuff that was on in the second half of the show and not all that well-received at the time.

    He knew he wouldn't be as popular as Dennis Miller doing that job, so his schtick was basically saying "fuck you" to the live audience and getting uncomfortable laughs. He was also saying fuck you to NBC. Basically, he didn't really want to be there but was going to light a fire on the way out. It was uncomfortable watching it at the time. Seth Myers and Amy Poehler picked up a lot of his same delivery, but without so much antagonism or repressed anger.

    I don't know if that's complicated or cheap, but it was very different at the time, so I at least had to respect him for not playing it safe.
    Now, as you say, it's just cliche. "Edgy," "politically incorrect," "not for everyone," etc is often just code for "I'm an asshole who says ignorant things instead of actually doing comedy."

    As a cis person, I can recommend some stand-ups that you should not ignore or bin, I think. Or at least, they aren't trying to pass off being a dick as comedy. You might not think they're funny.



    * There are examples when Loren Michaels insists on airing a sketch that he thinks is funny even if the audience doesn't get it. Admirable.

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      #27
      delicatemoth I hadn't seen that "joke" of his until you posted it and it's sullied my memory of him. I felt an 'ah shit that's really disapponting' moment reading it. I haven't found anything online where he distances himself from it, which I think people do need to say before the "times were different then" defence gets rolled out.

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        #28
        With no disrespect at all to dm's feelings and opinion, I don't think a comedian's poorest attempts at humour should define their life, or their career for that matter. Norm had his fair share of shitty jokes, but I think it would be a willful misreading to think they came from a place of malice.

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          #29
          That's really informative about SNL, thanks. I've loathed it ever since I became aware of it, and your description helps me understand why - it's like a chat show. Ever since I was a kid I hated watching smug men banter with each other and could not understand why anyone would want to watch them do so.

          Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
          As a cis person, I can recommend some stand-ups that you should not ignore or bin, I think.
          Go on then! I remember liking Steven Wright and Pee Wee Herman as well as Hicks, I like absurd/surreal stuff. The only 'big' comedian I've seen live is Dylan Moran, I remember him being very enjoyable but can't recall a word.

          I still can't get over Norm's comments on Caitlyn Jenner though. I mean, surely a comedian could work up a routine about how people with money cling to it so hard they'll cleave to a political faction that thinks they're subhuman? But no, he went with jokes about her appearance.

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            #30
            Originally posted by Patrick Thistle View Post
            delicatemoth I hadn't seen that "joke" of his until you posted it and it's sullied my memory of him. I felt an 'ah shit that's really disapponting' moment reading it. I haven't found anything online where he distances himself from it, which I think people do need to say before the "times were different then" defence gets rolled out.
            Well fuck, that wasn't my intention at all. My whole point was about how Normalised such hate is, that I could see a whole bunch of people (not just here, also people I follow on Twitter) talking about what a great comedian he was and then I look him up and find that line. He's not exceptional, and the fact that SNL could ignore people protesting about that, but later sack him cos one of his bosses was pals with OJ Simpson, illustrates a far more troubling fact than any of his lines.

            "Times were different" is nearly always a bad argument though, it relies on erasing the people who were the brunt and the people who were decent enough not to buy into it.

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              #31
              It's not that I wish I hadn't read it, I wish he hadn't said it. I felt the same way when I read about Jerry Seinfeld going to that combat experience camp in Israel and making jokes about bombing on stage. It taints the stuff that I've always found funny.

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                #32
                Uuuurgh, I missed that. Already knew Seinfeld was a prick though, much as I liked the sitcom of that name. He's the one who complained about audiences not finding him funny any more "not having a sense of humour", basically the Spinal Tap "they were still booing him when we were playing" line in real life.

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                  #33
                  Originally posted by delicatemoth View Post

                  Well fuck, that wasn't my intention at all. My whole point was about how Normalised such hate is, that I could see a whole bunch of people (not just here, also people I follow on Twitter) talking about what a great comedian he was and then I look him up and find that line. He's not exceptional, and the fact that SNL could ignore people protesting about that, but later sack him cos one of his bosses was pals with OJ Simpson, illustrates a far more troubling fact than any of his lines.

                  "Times were different" is nearly always a bad argument though, it relies on erasing the people who were the brunt and the people who were decent enough not to buy into it.
                  I'm not saying "times were different" about the 90s as an excuse, but just an observation of how much awful stuff was tolerated in the mainstream and thought to be funny back then. It was like people realized that racist and some misogynistic "humor" was not acceptable anymore, but making fun of trans people was perfectly okay. Pretty much the entire plot of Ace Ventura relies on how gross it is that a woman has a penis. And there really hasn't been any sort of reckoning of that.

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                    #34
                    Originally posted by delicatemoth View Post
                    Go on then! I remember liking Steven Wright and Pee Wee Herman as well as Hicks, I like absurd/surreal stuff. The only 'big' comedian I've seen live is Dylan Moran, I remember him being very enjoyable but can't recall a word.
                    If you like Steven Wright, give Mitch Hedberg (RIP) a chance.



                    Of newer comedians, I really like Rose Matafeo.

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                      #35
                      It's not just that it was OK, it's that it was so unremarkable that it went unremarked and so you could watch something having no idea that this would slap you in the face. This happened to me recently watching 1980s hit comedy Crocodile Dundee. I'm not sure things have changed that much though? Certainly there seem to be a fair number of comedians pleading that if they can't talk shit about minorities then their entire routines are fucked, which doesn't come across the way they probably think it does. As my mother-in-law said, while putting me in jail for being English.

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                        #36
                        My favorite current comedians are Patton Oswalt, Gary Gulman, Eddie Izzard, Pete Holmes, Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney, James Acaster, Dylan Moran, Jim Gaffigan, Jaboukie Young-White, Aisling Bea, Taylor Tomlinson, Neal Brennan, Ron Funches, Ronny Chieng, Hasan Minaj, Nate Bargatze, Ali Wong, Trevor Noah, and a few others.

                        Louie CK was the best, but FTG.

                        Bo Burnham is a genius, but comes off as kind of a dick.

                        Seinfeld’s last special was excellent. I don’t share his opinions on big important things like Palestine, but am right with him on trivial stuff like restaurants.
                        Last edited by Hot Pepsi; 16-09-2021, 00:17.

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                          #37
                          In comedy it's harder to separate the art from the artists.

                          Norm's comments about Bill Cosby start with the question "Do you think his legacy is ruined?" Norm clearly thinks it is. I've gone off Ellen DeGeneres since the news about how she treated people came out.

                          Having said that some of the lines from Norm's sitcom are still funny (to me). E.g. "Why do I need a reading lamp in the living room? I don't have a toilet in there!"

                          Sometimes I think more should be done to hold comedians to account. One of the most excruciating things I've watched was Frank Skinner apologising to Matthew Kelly for making jokes about Kelly being a paedophile. You could tell Kelly hated him for what he had done.

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                            #38
                            I couldn't agree less about 'holding comedians to account'. Making someone apologize for something said 20...25...35 years ago - in jest (because let's not lose sight of what their job is) - is ludicrous.

                            And this whole 'you can't say it was different then'; why not? 1996* to today is as distant as 1960 was to 1985. Think about how differently people in those two years would have approached, say, race and gender. To examine a 1996 joke through a 2021 lens is folly.

                            None of the above is meant to imply that nobody was hurt or offended by the joke in 1996. Not at all, and the disregarded letters from transgendered people are clear evidence of that. But let's also not pretend that comedians can't evolve over 25 years, whether through true enlightenment or simply due to their innate ability to 'read the room'.

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                              #39
                              I don't subscribe to the "in jest" defence, tbh. But even so, if someone has "moved on" (or "become less bigoted" you might say), they can acknowledge that.

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                                #40
                                But I think he has in that interview that was linked. Which isn't the same as apologizing for past jokes, but I don't think that's a comedian's job.

                                Someone made the point upthread about Seinfeld visiting an Israeli commando base / murder theme park a few years ago. I'd be up for him accounting for that, but not for anything he said in his act in 1996.

                                Rightly or wrongly, I just don't *get* this idea of removing the time/era and context (jest/comedy) and asking a comedian to atone as if it were said yesterday in earnest.

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                                  #41
                                  That joke was awful back then, I should add. In case that's in doubt. But would it have appalled me in 1996, when I didn't have any grasp of what transgender was or know anyone who is transgender; no. But that's the blissful ignorance that straight white cis males get away with.

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                                    #42
                                    I think "in jest" and "of its time" are quite different pieces of context, which need looking at separately. I think they're both mostly fairly worthless as context, tbh, and they do both seem to be used to defend the same things. But that doesn't mean they are the same thing, and they need addressing separately.

                                    I don't know why "would it have appalled me then?" is any kind of yardstick to measure anything on. If it wouldn't, that's on you to deal with. It doesn't speak to what a dead comedian should be doing.

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                                      #43
                                      ("in jest" doesn't seem to me to be necessarily the same as "as part of their act", mind. But "I was trying to make you laugh" doesn't seem to me to be particularly relevant)
                                      Last edited by TonTon; 16-09-2021, 12:50.

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                                        #44
                                        Originally posted by TonTon View Post
                                        I don't know why "would it have appalled me then?" is any kind of yardstick to measure anything on.
                                        I'm acknowledging that I didn't have the same awareness in 1996 that I have in 2021. That's not an admission of guilt or an excuse, it's just a recognition of my own situation. Do I consider myself 'woke' or 'enlightened' now? Not by a long shot, but surely a hell of a lot more so than I was in 1996. But by that same token, I'd think that that applies to almost anyone, and I don't know why Norm Macdonald wouldn't be included.

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                                          #45
                                          Originally posted by TonTon View Post
                                          I think "in jest" and "of its time" are quite different pieces of context, which need looking at separately.
                                          Can you expand on this a bit?

                                          (My contention would be that the 'joke' was made during a comedy show in 1996. I don't know how you parse the two.)

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                                            #46
                                            Originally posted by Hot Pepsi View Post
                                            My favorite current comedians are Patton Oswalt, Gary Gulman, Eddie Izzard, Pete Holmes, Mike Birbiglia, John Mulaney, James Acaster, Dylan Moran, Jim Gaffigan, Jaboukie Young-White, Aisling Bea, Taylor Tomlinson, Neal Brennan, Ron Funches, Ronny Chieng, Hasan Minaj, Nate Bargatze, Ali Wong, Trevor Noah, and a few others.
                                            Some there I haven't heard of, so thanks. I recently discovered Bargatze, I really like him. A white Southern guy who hasn't made that his sole identity and doesn't make it a political thing. He could have taken his persona in a really different direction, but I'm glad he didn't. I like the bewildered, not really that smart guy persona he has.

                                            I got tickets for Mrs. Inca and I to see Ronny Chieng at a theater here in LA for her birthday.

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                                              #47
                                              Where do people 'discover' up and coming comedians these days?

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                                                #48
                                                Originally posted by WOM View Post
                                                Where do people 'discover' up and coming comedians these days?
                                                Podcasts, Twitter, Netflix algorithm.

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                                                  #49
                                                  Given that the joke caused offence among trans people at the time I think it would be fair to raise it and ask the person who told the joke if they regretted it (now) and whether their thinking had changed (since then). Of course, the opportunity has gone to do that with Norm.

                                                  I heard an interview with Rebecca Adlington last week about mental health and she specifically said that when Frankie Boyle made fun of her appearance it seemed to give other people permission to weigh in and be rude about how she looked on social media. It makes me think maybe comedians like Boyle should be asked about that.

                                                  However, I kind of agree with what Norm said in the Slate interview about comedians apologising and how it doesn't feel genuine.

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                                                    #50
                                                    It makes me think maybe comedians like Boyle should be asked about that.
                                                    Er, I think specifically one comedian, named Frankie Boyle, should be asked about that. Suggested question "Isn't it about time you apologised for being an absolute cunt?"

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