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Sports Show with Norm MacDonald

Back in September I went to see Norm MacDonald perform stand-up at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It was funny in the way most things that come out of his mouth are funny, but the show was a bit of a shapeless mess. It had that vaguely depressing Spinal-Tap-reunion-tour feeling of deflated expectations. So imagine my excitement (it looks something like this) when I finally got around to watching the premiere of Sports Show with Norm MacDonald, Norm’s news parody show on Comedy Central.

Norm (we’re on a first-name basis, sorry ladies) sets the tone with his signature deadpan sarcasm in the show’s cold open, starting off with a joke about Cameron Diaz wanting boyfriend Alex Rodriguez to star in her new movie: “You can read my review for the flim in “Norm MacDonald’s Suicide Notes.” Wild applause! Roll credits! Next he moved into a Weekend Update-style segment, taking shots at Barry Bonds and Masters Tournament winner Charles Schwartzel. “After the win, Charles Schwartzel said, ‘Charles Schwartzel? Who the hell is Charles Schwartzel?'” It’s the perfect example of a joke that would fall flat on its face if anyone else tried to deliver it. 

The show never devolves into amorphous joke-slinging like his stand-up routine, mostly thanks to excellent pacing and a solid structure. The structure is what allows Norm to delve into his stinging non sequiturs without the show falling apart. The first episode set up some promising recurring segments, like “Wait, What?” (in which Norm presents a video of skier almost hitting a polar bear); Sad Bill Cosby (in which Bill Cosby is extremely disappointed in the life choices of New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie); and “What the H” (in which Norm rants for three and a half minutes about Tiger Woods’ extramarital habits). And we can’t forget the pre-recorded and brilliantly titled “Blake Like Me,” featuring LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin – ahem, I mean Norm MacDonald undercover as LA Clippers’ Blake Griffin.

Not everyone is as enamoured with the show as I am. NBC Sports’ Off The Bench intern Josiah Schlatter is unimpressed with the relevance of Norm’s material:

I hope you’re excited for Norm Macdonald [sic] clever segments such as ‘What the H’, where he complains about things that happened two years ago (apparently) followed by a segment I assume is titled ‘Yell for two minutes about how stupid Hanes is for letting Michael Jordan wear a Hitler mustache.’ If you don’t think things can get even more dated, he then shows a string of clips of athletes doing the Dougie, the dumb ‘Soulja Boy-like’ dance craze of this summer. Then he ended the show with the aptly titled screed “Garbage Time,” in which he yells about things that happened in the past 50 years of sport. But hey, he had that trusty glimmer in his eye. So he knows more than us.

My question for Josiah is, why are you relying on Norm MacDonald for the latest up-to-the-minute, news-breaking sports coverage? And then you have the nerve to call his Twitter feed “idiotic”? Why is someone with absolutely no sense of humour reviewing a comedy show? And why is someone with a grade school understanding of grammar writing for an NBC website? But I think his dumbest comment is that the show “features MacDonald spouting his usual brand of ‘jokes that only work if they’re told by Norm Macdonald [sic].’” Ok, sure, but Norm MacDonald is the one telling the jokes. So by your logic, the jokes DO work. BAM. Roasted. Who’s idiotic now?

Sports Show with Norm MacDonald airs Tuesdays at 10:30 pm on Comedy Central. Don’t be a hater. Watch it.

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