Norm Macdonald. What can one say about this guy? Legendary? Okay, that one will do. Well, the legendary 51-year-old former Saturday Night Live star made his way onto the stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba last Friday night to an extremely enthusiastic audience. Clearly his popularity hasn't waned, even though he hasn't been as out front in the entertainment world over the last few years (besides touring, he sporadically hosts a video podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, and spends a lot of time tweeting about golf).
The crowd was a bit rowdy, with beer flowing freely, and many a "bro" in sight. But, it was a nice crowd. They treated Norm well, were polite, and any "heckles" were pretty tame and thrown out, not with malice, but with admiration. And, for his part, he took it all well. The vast majority of the time he couldn't figure out what they were saying, so there was really no response to be given. And he did a bit of crowd work of his own, although it wasn't overly successful, nor did it really add much to the show. That's not a complaint... just an observation.
He did talk a lot about his genitals, I have to say. Apparently, his nether regions aren't working quite like the used to back in the day. He made this point very clear. He talked some about drugs, sexual fetishes, Chris Farley, and hockey. Oh, the hockey. The crowd loved the hockey chat. Not being a hockey fan myself, I had no clue what was going on, but it did highlight his Canadian street cred. And, then, from the start he had a running gag where he came close to lighting a cigarette on stage (it was funnier than it sounds in print, trust me). That kind of faded off as the act went on, but I got a chuckle out of it. The only jokes I wasn't quite as crazy about were the jokes about "retards". I just don't like that word, or referring to people with developmental challenges as "retards". Yet, somehow, he even made this part seem not as completely and totally offensive as he could have. Somehow, it worked, and he didn't come across as a jerk. That's talent!
Decked out in red ball cap, those fancy hipster sunglasses with the light coloured frames and a pretty casual sporty jacket and red t-shirt, he looked like he could be in the audience as opposed to up on the stage. Personally, I think that is part of his popularity. People see him as an everyday guy. And he is. On stage, he kind of rambles like the guy sitting at the end of the bar with a million stories. He just talks and talks and talks. And that's basically what he did. He talked for a long, long time. We ended up leaving at about 10:20pm. I think he had been on stage for at least an hour and a half at that point. I hated to leave, because even though he had been up there for that long, I wasn't sick of him. I wasn't tired of his banter. I could have listened to him all that night. I was just tired. Plain old tired. And even the crowd, who towards the end did seem to be getting tired as well, didn't seem to want him to get off stage at all. They were happy with his rambling.
Opening act "The Holy Atheist", Stevie Ray Fromstein, was someone I truly did enjoy. He had a laid-back style. He read from notes, which is not considered overly professional in comedy, but it didn't bother me in the slightest. The entire act basically revolved around atheism and religion. Not all of it was terribly original. But, I liked the way he presented it. He was funny, enjoyable and down to earth. He just seemed like a cool guy that one could hang around with at a skeptics meeting and learn a thing or two from. He runs a podcast called, well, The Holy Atheist, which I plan on listening to.
Apparently, he and Norm have been friends for years, and there was some good natured ribbing of Mr. Fromstein by Norm, saying that he was leading us all to hell. But, I would say the number of times that Norm dropped the F-bomb, he's not going to be accepted into the clergy anytime soon.
Worth the money? You bet. Worth every cent, and it will be a comedy show I will always remember. I left feeling good, like I just spent time with an old friend, catching up, sharing good times. He's more than a comedian, he's a buddy. He's just a buddy I've never actually met, and I think every person in the Burton Cummings Theatre would agree with me.