Norm Macdonald’s last stand-up special, filmed before the comedian’s death in September, has made its way to Netflix, where other fun people are paying tribute to the late icon.
“We’re honored to bring you Norm Macdonald’s latest special, followed by reactions and comments from some of his special friends,” Netflix wrote in the opening credits to Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special, which released Monday and features appearances by David Letterman, Dave Chappelle, Molly Shannon, Conan O’Brien, Adam Sandler and David Spade.
The special shows Macdonald, who died in September 2021 after a nine-year private battle with leukemia, wearing a baseball cap and headphones and speaking into a microphone, pandemic zoom style, in a nondescript room where dogs can be heard barking.
“Norm was hard at work preparing footage for his Netflix special — until COVID shut things down,” read another cover card. “He was due to undergo surgery in the summer of 2020 and as he put it, he didn’t want to leave anything on the table in case things went wrong. “
The special ends with Letterman, Chappelle, Shannon, O’Brien, Sandler and Spade getting together to watch Nothing Special and honor their longtime pal.
Netflix said Macdonald “shot this in one take” while he was “at home the night before he went in.”
“Hey everyone, this is Norm Macdonald and this is my comedy special,” he began. “Obviously I look forward to getting back out there and seeing you guys in person. I love gigs and I miss it. My god I miss it.”
However, the Saturday Night Live graduate succumbed to leukemia, which he kept secret from the public.
“We want to make sure his fans see this very fun hour. He left that gift for all of us,” his longtime producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra said in a statement to the Daily Beast.
Hoekstra said: “Norm has been working so hard on a new hour of material and wanted it to be seen.”
“Although this version of ‘Nothing Special’ wasn’t originally intended to be a final product, COVID restrictions prevented it from filming in front of audiences,” Hoekstra noted.
The themes of the special are wide-ranging, but at several points the “Screwed” star has been candid about his own death and mortality in general. He opened up about how “depressing” it was writing his “living will” and joked that if he ever hypothetically went into a coma, his family would pull the plug.
He also joked about being a Christian and his fears he’d “chosen the wrong religion,” reported the Daily Beast, and envisioned life after death. “Oh, it’s you! I thought it was the other guy. I should have been killing renegades all along. Ah good, what are you going to do?”
In his sign-off, Macdonald loses sight of the “point” of the joke he was telling, before ending by saying, “I’d drop the mic, but I paid for it.”
Nothing Special also features comments from his friends, with Letterman calling it a “great gift.”
“It’s not necessarily stand-up, it’s something different,” added the 75-year-old former Late Show host.
“It seemed like he just wanted to go all out,” said the 55-year-old Sandler, calling the special a “softer norm.” O’Brien reflected that Macdonald “didn’t want anyone to know about his cancer” and wished he could have said goodbye. “We were so upset we didn’t get a chance to tell him what he meant to us,” added the former The Tonight Show host, 59.
“This guy has weirdly balanced his mortality in a hilarious way. And ironically, he’s no longer with us,” added Chappelle, 48. “We sit in the aftermath of Norm Macdonald and watch how incredibly alive he is.”