So, I Twittered with Norm Macdonald for Two Hours Today

I just approved two dicky comments to my blog because I’m not a fascist. One of them complained about pronoun-antecedent agreement. Whatever. The last bastion of people with no argument is to hit you on your grammar. It’s easy, it’s lazy and since I write 1,000 –  2,000 words a day, some shit’s going to slip through. But the point of this post is: fuck you, Norm Macdonald and Andy Kindler like my piece.

Anyways, I have a piece coming out soon about Bill Hicks and it transpired (I use that word in the classic sense meaning, “came to be known” rather than “happened”) that Norm Macdonald does not like Bill Hicks at all.


He also doesn’t like Lenny Bruce:

I wish I could have interviewed Norm for my piece on Hicks, but I have a different view on his career [Hicks’s]. It’s tough to encapsulate Norm’s critique (I don’t know if I fully understand it) in tweets, because I still think Twitter is a bad place for debates, which is why, from now on, I’ll be moving these types of debates to here, on my blog. I think Hicks and Bruce were comedians, not journalists, because I think they were funny.

I’m not sure Norm is giving Bill enough credit for how profoundly funny he was. I mean, the guy kills, for god’s sake, my mom likes some of his bits. But there are three stages to Hicks. You have young Hicks, then you have alcoholic Hicks and then you have philosopher searching for meaning Hicks. I think Norm might dislike alcoholic Hicks and philosopher Hicks, but it’s hard to deny that young Hicks was a funny motherfucker. I really don’t think Hicks is derivative of Kinnison, although I know Sam criticized Hicks. I wonder if the same hate that a lot of people have for Leary because they think he stole, Norm might have for Hicks for the same reason. I’d like to see a more fully developed critique.

It is worth noting that Macdonald is a singular comedian. I mean, the guy is honest to the craft in a real way and it’s a shame most people only know him for some Comedy Central Roast. Watch some of his stand-up. It’s killer.  But I think that Norm conceives of comedy in a different way than Hicks does, as something more personal rather than political. He wants jokes and he sees Hicks and Bruce and Carlin as lecturing. That would explain why he likes Stanhope and Pryor, both of whom have an intensely personal brand of comedy (Stanhope got on stage and talked about a friend who had recently committed suicide in his [Stanhope’s] apartment).

But for me a big thing about writing the piece is that it was a personal journey. I learned to appreciate the ways that each comedian conceives of the craft differently. I mean comedians, not the derivative hacks, but real comedians. I honestly started to be able to appreciate things I had noticed before, and I found myself liking comedians that I hadn’t understood before. I also got to talk to people who knew Hicks which was cool because I wish I could have met the guy.

But anyways, long story short, apparently Norm thinks I’m pretty chill. I hope this blog post doesn’t kill that. Also, you may not know this but he’s a fan of Tolstoy and Chesterton.


2 thoughts on “So, I Twittered with Norm Macdonald for Two Hours Today

  1. James

    Two of my favorites… Hicks and Norm. Norm has said himself that he hates politics, that once Bill Clinton was out of office that there was no more dirty dirty sex to talk about. I love comedians who educate and make it funny. Such as the Hick’s viewing of the tank shooting fire at Waco. I know comedians who have disdain for Hicks… I guess Leary made his act more accessible. It doesn’t bother me that Norm didn’t like Hicks because Hicks’ work speaks for itself. Imagine the field day Bill would have with today’s developments. I’m am glad that Norm has that podcast going. It’s brilliant in its own way.


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