Norm Macdonald Consistently Lied About His Age in Hilarious Long-Running Bit Before His Death

The comedian, who died Tuesday at 61, constantly changed his age as part of a years-long gag

Norm Macdonald knows the importance of seeing a joke through to the end.

The Saturday Night Live alum — who died Tuesday — was known for his ability to execute an expertly timed joke, but perhaps his best long-running gag lasted throughout his entire career: The comedian consistently lied about his age.

Macdonald, who was born in Canada on October 17, 1959, and died at age 61, regularly provided different dates of birth during performances and interviews. On one occasion he would age himself by five years, and the next shave off a full decade from his date of birth.

Macdonald previously explained his reasoning for the comical inconsistency.

"Well, when I started doing stand-up, [reporters would] interview me before the show and I'd tell everyone a different story: I'm a juggler or I'm a bagpipe player. I'd just make up things," he told Newsday in 2016, per The Wrap. "Basically, I just wanted to get a bunch of newspaper clippings that all said [crazy] things about me and put them on my wall."

He added: "I think that's where it started, and then whoever writes Wikipedia put it in and I just agreed with it."

A compilation of videos posted to a YouTube fan account showed how Macdonald carried out the gag over the years. In one clip from an interview with Conan O'Brien, Macdonald stated that he's "younger" than O'Brien — but he was actually three years older than the now-58-year-old talk show host.

And during a 2013 interview with the late Larry King, Macdonald said that he would be turning 50 that year. But the comedian was already 53 at the time.

PEOPLE confirmed Macdonald died on Tuesday. He had been privately battling cancer for nine years.

Macdonald was best known for appearing on Saturday Night Live from 1993 to 1998. During that time, he anchored the NBC sketch comedy's Weekend Update segment.

Seth Rogen, Jim Carrey, Meghan McCain and Steve Martin are among the growing list of stars who have paid tribute to Macdonald across social media.

In the years before his passing, Macdonald reflected on his legacy in his 2016 memoir, Based on a True Story: A Memoir.

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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," he wrote. "But it is impossible to be bitter. I've been lucky. If I had to sum up my whole life, I guess those are the words I would choose, all right."

"When I was a boy, I was sure I'd never make it past Moose Creek, Ontario, Canada. But I've been all over this world. Except for Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America," he continued. "Oh, and Antarctica. But that's really splitting hairs. I mean, how many people have been to Antarctica?"

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