Norm Macdonald was working on new stand-up material for a Netflix special before his death, but he never got to try out the routine in front of a live audience. Fortunately for fans, the comedian committed his jokes to tape in a home-recorded video that the streaming platform will soon unearth for the first time.
Macdonald was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, but kept his illness private from the public. According to Lori Jo Hoekstra, the comedian’s longtime friend and producing partner, he recorded his final special before heading into the hospital in 2020 as a precautionary measure.
“His test results were not good, so during the heart of COVID-19 pandemic and literally the night before going in for a procedure, he wanted to get this on tape just in case — as he put it — things went south,” Hoekstra told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was his intention to have a special to share if something happened.”
Macdonald recorded his routine in a single take in his living room. “He looks great and the material’s fantastic,” Hoekstra said. But when the comedian came out of the hospital in good shape, the video went untouched. About a year later, when his condition worsened, Macdonald asked Hoekstra to find the tape so he could share it with the world. “He ended up watching it before he passed away,” she revealed, and came up with a characteristically deadpan title for the routine: Nothing Special.
Now, almost a year after his death, Netflix will release Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special on May 30th. The comedian’s home-recorded routine will be rounded out with tributes from his peers Adam Sandler, Conan O’Brien, Dave Chappelle, David Letterman, David Spade, and Molly Shannon, who honored their friend at the recent Netflix Is a Joke Fest.
“It makes me so happy that I can share it, but also so sad that we can’t share it with him,” Hoekstra said of the special. “He didn’t do this for the shock that it exists. He shot it because he loved his material and was so proud of his material. He worked so hard and it really would’ve bothered him to have done all that work and not been able to show everybody. He did it for the stand-up. I just hope people appreciate that he did this.”