When I was invited to meet Norm Macdonald last weekend at Donnie B’s Funny Bone, I’m not quite sure what I expected.
When I was invited to meet Norm Macdonald last weekend at Donnie B’s Funny Bone in Bloomington, Ill., I’m not quite sure what I expected.
It was after Friday’s early show, the first of four sold-out performances.
Macdonald had been funny, beginning with fresh material on the economic downturn.
After riffing on how little he knew about politics and current events, Macdonald, 45, said he was watching the news recently when he heard the words “Great Depression.”
“That I understood,” he said. “Because my dad — he was 50 when he had me — he was telling me about the Great Depression, and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Not a lot of fun. A lot of railroad cops beating the hell out of you.
“It looks fun, I know that. It seems fun. Like, I know what you’re thinking: ‘Ah, f--- it, man, I don’t even like my job (or) my wife anyway. I’ll just get me a stick and a red pouch and f---ing wander around. Maybe get a partner — we’ll travel America relying on the kindness of ladies putting their pies out on window sills.'”
As the evening wore on, Macdonald’s jokes turned deeper and deeper shades of blue. He closed with some of his vintage material on men, women, sex and the concept of gay pride. I’d love to tell you about it, but I don’t want to get fired.
Toward the end of the set, Don Jr. — I never learned his full name — took the seat next to me and asked if I wanted to go to a short meet-and-greet after the show.
I’ve been a fan of Macdonald since he was on “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-1990s; a college friend and I often shorthand our conversations with quotes from “Dirty Work.”
Because I don’t like mixing being a fan with being a reporter, I was initially inclined to say no. But my newsman instincts quickly kicked in, and I thought I at least ought to see what would happen.
Sure, I told Don Jr., so about 20 minutes after the show, a group of us were led out a side door of the building, past a row of parked cars and into what appeared to be a banquet room.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, Norm Macdonald had been on “SNL” with Chris Farley — would he be knee-deep in hookers and blow?
Macdonald was standing in the same suit-and-gym-shoes ensemble he’d worn on stage a few minutes earlier. The most dangerous substance in the room was probably the dip that came with the vegetable tray.
He was friendly and unassuming, graciously signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans and several people from local radio station Kiss-FM.
In an apparent attempt to tweak Macdonald’s origins in Quebec, Kiss-FM morning host Bondsy made mention of the Quebec Nordiques. The hockey team angered fans in the mid-1990s when it decamped to the U.S. and became the Colorado Avalanche.
“I f---ing hate the Nordiques,” Macdonald said, suddenly looking up from the autograph he was signing. He quickly put his hand to his mouth, recoiled and sheepishly added, “Sorry for swearing, I didn’t mean to swear.”
This from a man who had just done a show saturated with f-bombs and an unprintable word for a part of the male anatomy that rhymes with dock.
It turns out that Norm was normal. The newsman in me was disappointed, but the fan in me went away happy.
And that's the way it is. I can be reached at email@example.com; I occasionally write at blogs.sj-r.com/brianmackey.