John Oliver and Lorne Michaels Remember Norm Macdonald During Emmy Wins: 'One of the Best'
Norm Macdonald was honored during two consecutive Emmy wins on Sunday night.
"I just want to say, this is an award for late night comedy," Oliver, 44, said during his acceptance speech for outstanding variety talk series. "No one was funnier in the last 20 years than Norm Macdonald on late night comedy."
He continued, "So if you have any time in the next week, do what I did and just spend time YouTubing clips of Norm and Conan because it doesn't get any better than that. Thanks so much."
Michaels, 76, accepted the Emmy for outstanding variety sketch series for SNL, where he also remembered Macdonald. Macdonald was a cast member on the sketch comedy show for five years — 1993 through 1998 — three of which he spent anchoring the Weekend Update segment. He became well-known for his impressions of Burt Reynolds, Bob Dole, Larry King, David Letterman and Quentin Tarantino, among others.
"Weekend Update has been a part of this now for 46 seasons. And here I'd like to pay tribute to one of the best we ever had: Norm Macdonald," Michaels said.
Backstage at the Emmys, Michaels told reporters Macdonald "meant the world to people. The number of people that I've heard from, the number of people that have talked about Norm – when you've worked with someone and you're aware of who they are as a person and who they are as a friend, he was one of the funniest people I've ever known. Because he's Canadian, I'd put him up there in the top 5."
Michaels continued, "When he was at the show, I was always in awe of how long he could take to tell a joke and how long he could pause before telling another joke. He never pandered. He always was going to do it the way he wanted to do it. He had integrity."
PEOPLE confirmed Macdonald died on Tuesday. He had been privately struggling with cancer for nine years.
Macdonald died Tuesday morning, his longtime friend Lori Jo Hoekstra told Deadline. Hoekstra said the comedian was determined to keep his cancer private from family, friends and fans.
"He was most proud of his comedy," Hoekstra told the outlet. "He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic. He once wrote that 'a joke should catch someone by surprise, it should never pander.' He certainly never pandered. Norm will be missed terribly."
In the memoir, titled Based on a True Story, Macdonald reflected on his career, sharing that he would describe his life as "lucky."
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"I think a lot of people feel sorry for you if you were on SNL and emerged from the show anything less than a superstar. They assume you must be bitter. But it is impossible for me to be bitter," he wrote.
Macdonald continued, "I've been lucky. If I had to sum up my whole life, I guess those are the words I would choose, all right."
The 73rd Emmy Awards, hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, are airing live from 8-11 p.m. ET on CBS.