Norm Macdonald Shot Hour Long Secret Special Before His Death
A farewell stand-up special of one of modern comedy's greatest performers has been kept a secret, until now. In the months leading up to his death in September 2021, Norm Macdonald recorded a one-hour standup special that was never made public.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2012, the beloved Saturday Night Live performer and comic, famed for his deadpan delivery, chose to keep his illness a secret from the public. In the summer of 2020, he was working on a Netflix special when he had to go to the hospital for treatment.
“His test results were not good, so during the heart of COVID-19 pandemic and literally the night before going in for a procedure, he wanted to get this on tape just in case — as he put it things went south,” Lori Jo Hoekstra, Macdonald's longtime producing partner, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was his intention to have a special to share if something happened.”
To get the best results, we decided to film the program from the comfort of MacDonald's living room. The full hour was filmed in a single take by the actor. Hoekstra gushes, “He looks great and the material’s fantastic.”
As it turned out, Macdonald recovered fully from the treatment, and the film was subsequently discarded. However, a year later, Macdonald fell ill and died before his special could be taped in front of an audience. Hoekstra recalls, “He ended up getting sicker last August and September, and he remembered he had shot this and asked me to find it so he could watch it. He ended up watching it before he passed away,” says Hoekstra. In fact, MacDonald even came up with a title for it: Nothing Special.
On May 30, Netflix will premiere Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special, a surprise program.
The stand-up hour is a first in the world of comedy — a postmortem last joke and testament from a comic who enjoyed challenging conventional wisdom. Norm and Norm Macdonald Has a Show, both on ABC, were also produced by Hoekstra, who also produced Nothing Special and Norm Macdonald's other projects.
The show will feature clips of Adam Sandler, Conan O'Brien, Dave Chappelle, David Letterman, David Spade, and Molly Shannon discussing Macdonald at the Netflix Is a Joke Fest recently.
When Hoekstra says “It makes me so happy that I can share it, but also so sad that we can’t share it with him.He didn’t do this for the shock that it exists. He shot it because he loved his material and was so proud of his material. He worked so hard and it really would’ve bothered him to have done all that work and not been able to show everybody. He did it for the stand-up. I just hope people appreciate that he did this.”