Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Goodbye, Norm Macdonald

June 2, 2022

Over Memorial Day weekend, Netflix released a new stand-up special from Norm Macdonald, who unexpectedly died in September of last year. Unexpected to us and his friends; perhaps more expected to the comedian, who had kept his cancer diagnosis incredibly secret. On the occasion of the release of Norm Macdonald’s “Nothing Special,” Washington Post national arts reporter Geoff Edgers published a new piece featuring interviews with his friends and colleagues about the special and his life’s work. I’m very happy to have Geoff on today to talk about Norm specifically and the art of profiling more generally. 

Back in 2016, Geoff wrote a longish feature about Norm that, I think, helped spark something of a reappraisal or reconsideration of his work: though beloved—almost revered—by fellow comedians, Norm had fallen out of the spotlight with normal folks, and this well-read feature reminded them of what they were missing. (The publication of his absolutely brilliant book around the same time also helped in this regard.) And Geoff’s designation of Macdonald as “Tolstoy in sweatpants” in his obit for the Canadian funnyman is a pretty perfect encapsulation of his charms.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit