A muttering, slovenly, and acerbic standup comedian, actor, and writer known for his high-profile firing from Saturday Night Live, Norm MacDonald is a love-him-or-hate-him character. Born in Quebec City, Quebec, MacDonald started out performing in comedy clubs across Canada before he decided to pack his bags and move to Los Angeles. His wry style landed him gigs writing for the popular sitcom Roseanne along with The Dennis Miller Show, but a 1993 offer to write for SNL had him switching coasts and moving to New York City. A year later he was hosting the show's "Weekend Update" segment, delivering deadpan jokes about prison rape and crack whores that sometime received more gasps than laughs. Original "Weekend Update" host Chevy Chase declared him the best "fake anchor" he had ever seen, and while a cult of MacDonald fans was growing, the West Coast president of NBC, Don Ohlmeyer, was certainly not one of them. Ohlmeyer pressured Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels to fire MacDonald on the grounds he was "not funny." MacDonald was off "Weekend Update" in 1997 and completely off the show in 1998, the same year he made his feature film debut with the genuine bomb Dirty Work.
In 1999 he landed a sitcom on ABC titled simply Norm. The show -- which featured his good friend and future Howard Stern sidekick Artie Lange -- struggled for three years to find an audience before it was canceled. During this time he starred in another silver screen bomb, Screwed, which was released in 2000. In 2003 he was given another chance at sitcoms with the Fox project A Minute with Stan Hooper, which only lasted six episodes despite critics' praise. He kept a low profile for the next couple years with a few talk show appearances here and there, most of them on Stern's show, where MacDonald would discuss his beloved gambling. Standup appearances around the U.S. also kept him busy until 2006, when he finished his first album. Nine years in the making, Ridiculous bucked the unambitious trend most comedy albums were following -- being nothing more than the audio companions to live performance DVDs -- and presented 12 sketches with guests like Will Ferrell, Artie Lange, Tim Meadows, and Molly Shannon. The album was released by the Comedy Central label and produced by Brooks Arthur, the man behind Adam Sandler's successful series of sketch comedy albums. He followed it up in 2011 with his first-ever full-length standup album, the appropriately titled Me Doing Stand-Up. ~ David Jeffries