Cannibalism, Down Syndrome, Dad Jokes: Why Norm MacDonald’s Last Special Is Everything Your Heart Needs


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Norm MacDonald recorded a special at home before he died, and it was just released by Netflix.

You need to stop what you’re doing right now and watch it. Seriously. Don’t even finish reading this article. Unless you’re sitting on the toilet and in the middle of a session, you have no valid excuse for not watching “Norm MacDonald: Nothing Special” right this very instant. You deserve it. We all deserve it.

What a terrible few years it’s been, eh? We’ve had a plague, a new war, the economy is failing, food shortages are already here, and we lost the comedic light of Norm MacDonald at the tender age of 61 to his quiet battle with cancer.

But, like every great ray of light on this planet, Norm didn’t leave without gifting us one last reason to smile. And that’s what this comedy special is: it’s one long, continuous reason to remember to smile.

I think the best thing about MacDonald’s style of comedy is the irreverence. I love me some weird humor. If it leaves you going, “err, what?” then it’s for me. (RELATED: REVIEW: Bo Burnham Roasts Joe Biden In The Catchiest Way Possible)

Take, for example, his bit about airplanes. He’s right: the crashing and the dying is the reason why many of us get nervous on flights. I watched the special with my significant other, and he couldn’t understand why I laughed so hard I started coughing (I’m sick) and choking when MacDonald’s bit on airplanes suddenly turned to the Andes.

Cannibalism. Duh, I said. I was right. Even though it was predictable to me, it was still unexpected. It was irreverent. However, I disagree with MacDonald. I think the worst part of airplanes is the crashing and dying, and not the cannibalism. When else are you going to get a completely valid excuse to try cannibalism other than when your rugby team crash lands in the Andes? Probably not ever.

Maybe, maybe if your pioneer party gets lost on their way west from Missouri somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas during winter. Perhaps you’ll get an excuse to try cannibalism then. I don’t know, but it’s become a hot topic of discussion in our house all afternoon.

The special was shot in what appears to be MacDonald’s family home. The curled conclusion to a staircase lurks in the backdrop, shrouded by a blanket that had probably been stapled haphazardly to the ceiling. He talks directly into the camera, almost like the quintessential grandpa who’s just discovered video chat.

At one point his dog goes absolutely ballistic off screen, and he waits patiently as if the little thing does this all the time. He talks as if his wife, Ruth, is just off screen, probably cooking or reading, all the while ignoring the jokes she’s heard a hundred or five times.

Not only is this a comedy special, but it’s a beautiful goodbye to a mind that we lost far too soon. It’s a reminder to tell the people you love that you do, just in case you don’t get an opportunity to again.

Oh, and his opinion on Down Syndrome is factually accurate. I will die on this hill.

Watch a clip here: