After Norm Macdonald's Death, This 2016 Interview Explains It All


News of Norm Macdonald’s death shocked the world on Tuesday.

As it turns out, for nine long years the 61-year-old had been fighting a secret battle against cancer.

A close friend told Deadline that Macdonald hid the diagnosis from not only fans but also his close friends and family members.

“He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him,” his friend and producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra said.

A recently unearthed 2016 interview on the Chris Hardwick-hosted ID10T podcast further illuminates why Macdonald decided to keep his battle with cancer a secret.

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In the interview, Macdonald condemned what he described as “confessional comedy.”

Keep in mind this interview was conducted in the midst of his own battle with cancer.

“I saw a one-woman show once,” Macdonald said, “And she was like, ‘Well, my mother had breast cancer and now I have breast cancer,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s everybody.'”

“They think it’s so special when everyone gets cancer and dies. It’s almost the height of narcissism, to think that you’re going to be so brave as to talk about it in person, whereas all you’re doing is just garnering sympathy for yourself.”

“How’s that brave? It seems cowardly.”

In his usual eccentric way, Macdonald then went on to tell the story of Richard Farnsworth.

An American actor and stuntman, Farnsworth committed suicide by gunshot at the age of 80. The actor had been suffering from terminal cancer at the time that had left him partially paralyzed and in great pain.

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In spite of all of that, Farnsworth kept his condition a secret from even his close family members until the very end.

“That, to me, is courageous. You’re not being a burden to your family, they know nothing about it and then you’re gone,” Macdonald said.

“I thought, ‘Wow, how incredible, how many people could do that, to go through it alone.'”

Macdonald then went on to hint at his own condition.

“If I had a specific ailment — and possibly I do, you don’t know — I would not talk about it,” he said. “I would not, I hope that I would not discuss it.”

The beloved comedian went on to realize that fateful expectation.

Unwilling to burden his loved ones or fans, he suffered alone.

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Michael wrote for a number of entertainment news outlets before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter. He now manages the writing and reporting teams, overseeing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Michael Austin graduated from Iowa State University in 2019. During his time in college, Michael volunteered as a social media influencer for both PragerU and Live Action. After graduation, he went on to work as a freelance journalist for various entertainment news sites before joining The Western Journal in 2020 as a staff reporter.

Since then, Michael has been promoted to the role of Manager of Writing and Reporting. His responsibilities now include managing and directing the production of commentary, news and original reporting content.
Ames, Iowa
Iowa State University
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