Norm Mc Donald’s Film Career Died For Someone’s Sins, But Not Mine

Posted By: Coco Buchanan

Once again, my hero, the AV Club’s Nathan Rabin has written a fine, fine article.  In this edition of  My Tear Of Flops, Rabin reviews Dirty Work, and has thus singlehandedly convinced me as to the genius of Norm McDonald.  I always thought he was mildly amusing, but the shmuck-itude he’s exuded has always turned me more off than on.

However, Rabin’s brilliant insights into the nuances of McDonald mad eme think of him in a whoel new way:

MacDonald took Chase’s air of Zen comic detachment to wonderful new extremes. MacDonald embodied a sublime aloofness that made him a little dangerous. At the same time, MacDonald won fans and enemies by regularly acknowledging facts that pretty much everyone in pop culture knew but mostly tiptoed around: that Michael Jackson was a pedophile, and O.J. Simpson a brutal double murderer. As ‘Weekend Update’ anchor, MacDonald was a riveting combination of schoolyard smartass and angry-white-man truth-teller….He was also a whiz at impressions. He did a definitive Burt Reynolds and a Bob Dole that usurped even Robert Smigel’s impersonation as the gold standard.

Since then, McDonald’s career has essentially, gone down the toilet (plus, I think there have been rumors of gambling and drinking problems).  So, I think he really surprised everyone at the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget, when he did some kind of genius meta-comedy.

Fucking NUTS, right?  Anyway, since this roast and Rabin’s article, my opinion of McDonald has done a 180.   

Semi-unrelated and just in case I haven’t drooled over Rabin enough, the following paragraphs are an AMAZING encapsulation of movies in the late 90s, though he’s specifically setting the mood for how Dirty Work was marketed:

But for a brief, shining moment at the tail end of the Clinton era, greatness seemed within MacDonald’s boozy grasp. Does anything take you back to the halcyon days of 1998 quite like a movie prominently using “Semi-Charmed Life” in its first 10 minutes? For those who don’t remember ’98, every film that year was legally required to use the ubiquitous Third Eye Blind hit, even Holocaust dramas and documentaries. Especially Holocaust dramas and documentaries.

Like they say about the Age of Aquarius, if you remember ’98, man, then you weren’t there! ’Cause if you were there, you would have abused so many psychotropic drugs that they would have completely destroyed a lot of your cognitive functions, especially regarding memory retention.

Dirty Work scores a trifecta by using “Semi-Charmed Life,” Better Than Ezra’s “Good,” and Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” in its first 15 minutes. Had it thrown in The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshman,” the cheap nostalgia receptors in my brain would have exploded from overwork.

Um, I heart Nathan Rabin.  Period.  Also, I’m pretty sure he looks exactly like John Stamos 😉


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