Norm Was Surprised Comedians Have Come Out Against Louis C.K. Going Back on Stage
Macdonald Says You Can Have Sympathy for Both the Victims and for Louis C.K.
Norm Macdonald has had a busy week. After his comments to a Hollywood Reporter writer got him into trouble on social media (you all know the background to this by now), he went on Howard Stern and tried to clarify his thoughts about Louis C.K., Roseanne Barr and the MeToo movement. In the process he got himself into another hot mess by saying essential, no I didn’t mean what you all think I meant- you’d have to have Down Syndrome to be that dumb. Oh shit, Norm got himself into another jam that required yet another round of apologies.
Minutes after leaving the Howard Stern interview, Macdonald spent an hour at SiriusXM talking with Ron Bennington on Bennington’s Unmasked series in front of a studio audience. He shared some truly elegant thoughts about the current state of stand up comedy, and talked about his brand new talk show that debuts at midnight tonight at midnight on Netflix. And just one day after the internet exploded criticizing Macdonald for his views expressed in the Hollywood Reporter interview, he spent a little more time discussing the “Louis C.K. situation”, this time focusing on how some of Louis’ peers have reacted to C.K.’s banishment.
“Well I’ll tell you this, and I did not know this, and maybe you do. Comedians have gone up against Louis,” Norm said, expressing shock that other comics would be against Louis returning to the stage. “Comedians have said this guy shouldn’t be able to ever perform again,” he continued. “You know, if you’re a murderer,” he started to say, “if you’re a murderer, you go to jail and they let you off, 20 years later and you try to get a job as a busboy, and the guy says, “I’m not hiring that guy, he murdered.” And you go, “But he did his penance, and now you give him a job, that’s the humane thing to do.” And people go, “Well what about the murdered person?” And you go, “Well of course, he got worse.” The guy that lost his life, he’s doing worse. But it doesn’t mean you can’t forgive, or it’s impossible to forgive,” He said, adding that he doesn’t understand how they can be so absolute about the subject, when there aren’t rules or standards set about how to handle this situation.
He offered a simple solution: the audience should decide if a comic belongs on stage. “I always thought the audience would decide whether you’re an objectionable comic or even a good comic. So Louis went up here at The Comedy Cellar and the audience let him know. I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there, but if the audience doesn’t like him, then the club won’t book him. I mean that’s how things work.”
And although he clarified that he believes the victims are still the victims and are deserving of the most compassion and understanding, he is holding his ground about whether or not C.K. is also worthy of some empathy. And he said, he can’t understand why his critics can’t see this. “Your heart can break for more than one person at the same time,” he says to Bennington. “A person can do a bad thing and you can feel sorry for that person, while feeling worse for the person that had the bad thing done to them. This is all so self-evident, it’s hard for me to unpack.”
The rest of the conversation is equally fascinating with Norm taking an interesting position on Netflix choosing to pay their most sought-after comedians exorbitant sums of money to put out hour specials, and giving an interesting perspective on whether or not stand up comedy is an art form.
He also explains his unique interview technique on his new talk show- he may be the first person with a talk show to admit he’s a terrible interviewer and gives some insight to why made those O.J. Simpson jokes that cost him his Weekend Update position on Saturday Night Live.
And speaking of O.J., Norm says that when they were putting together their guest list for his talk show, O.J. was on their list of top guests. And he almost got him. “We tried to get OJ,” he said. “And I guess he’s represented by his lawyer now. And so the guy phones him, and the lawyers like, “Oh, yeah, he’ll do it, sure, absolutely.” And I’m like, “Wow, that’s super great.” The good news didn’t last long, though. Norm says they got a call back soon after. “He phones back, he goes, “Yes….are you the Norm Macdonald?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And he said, “OJ said that you were particularly rough on him.” Oh well. Maybe season two?
You can watch a clip from Tuesday’s conversation below. The entire interview airs today at 4pm on SiriusXM’s Faction Talk. “Norm Macdonald Has a Show” is streaming on Netflix now.