Although Norm Macdonald wasn’t an impressionist, he delighted audiences with several excellent renditions over the years, which included impressions of cultural icons like David Letterman and Larry King, among others. One of his finest impressions was of a particular filmmaker who is known for his neurotic energy and exaggerated mannerisms. Macdonald seamlessly slipped into the shoes of none other than the director of Pulp Fiction – Quentin Tarantino.
Last week, the entire world mourned the loss of one of the great comedic geniuses of our time when it was announced that Macdonald succumbed to leukaemia. Other famous figures in the world of comedy who were inspired by Macdonald’s work poured in with tributes, ranging from Jim Carrey to Adam Sandler. Macdonald was always outspoken about the current state of comedy and expressed concerns about meta-humour and postmodernism.
In a 2018 interview, Macdonald said: “For stand-up, a lot of it is bragging. It used to drive me crazy when I knew that a stand-up’s agenda was about showing how smart they were. The last character you want to be is a guy who’s smarter than the audience. But there’s some hole inside that these stand-ups have to fill. It has nothing to do with making people laugh.”
He also explained why there is so much cultural value in the art of comedy, stating: “I wouldn’t pretend to ever know the truth. But comedy in its highest form always reveals something. Maybe you could call that a truth. But what I don’t like is the idea that suffering, or pain, or being a victim — you could say that leads to art, and maybe it does, but it’s not art in itself.”
Since Macdonald had been diagnosed nine years ago, he knew that he was looking at a limited time frame. While reflecting on the time he wasted and his serious struggle with addiction, Macdonald compared his bouts of gambling addiction to the pernicious machinations of social media. Even back in 2018, his primary regret was the loss of time.
The comedian revealed: “I don’t have alcohol. I don’t have cigarettes. I don’t have drugs. I don’t have that much gambling anymore. But I do have YouTube, sports, and Twitter — and I only got so much time. When I get sad it’s when I see how little time I have left and how I’m wasting it. Gambling was always like that. It wasn’t the money I lost, it was the time.”
In a 1998 episode called ‘Quentin Tarantino: A Profile’, Macdonald conducted a hilarious impression of the filmmaker’s anarchic tendencies. He nailed the excited speech patterns as well as the gestures, making everyone second-guess whether it was actually Tarantino parodying himself.
Watch the full clip of Norm Macdonald’s Quentin Tarantino impression below.