Conan O’Brien Praises Norm Macdonald’s ‘Brilliant’ O.J. Simpson Jokes That Got Him Fired From ‘SNL’ | Video

“The head of the network at the time was tight with O.J.,” the “Conan O’Brien Must Go” star reflects

Conan O’Brien tipped his hat to the late, great Norm Macdonald, remembering the comedian in particular for his eviscerating comic takes on former NFL star O.J. Simpson, who died Thursday.

Sitting with CNN’s Jake Tapper to promote his new show “Conan O’Brien Must Go” on Thursday, the former “Late Night” host was asked about the news of the day and took a moment to remember Macdonald for doing “some of the most brilliant comedy” relating to Simpson and his infamous 1995 double murder trial “of anybody during that whole period.”

After Tapper pointed out that Macdonald was fired from “Saturday Night Live” for the incessant jokes, O’Brien explained that “the head of the network at the time was tight with O.J.”

“That was a huge moment in history,” he added.

Simpson’s death by cancer on Thursday sparked plenty of conversation about the response to his notorious legal case, which dominated the news cycle in the mid-1990s. Reflecting on the comedic role Macdonald played on “SNL” and elsewhere at that time, O’Brien praised the late comic as “one of my best guests of all time” and “one of the great comedians of all time.”

Macdonald helmed “Weekend Update” for the 20th season of “SNL,” which ran during the trial frenzy. He insisted Simpson was guilty from the very beginning. He often joked about only focusing on the storm surrounding Simpson at the time, and more than once introduced a book about another famous figure, such as then-Prince Charles, but claimed the title was something like “Of Course O.J. Did It, Come On.”

The comedian was said to have been fired by NBC head Don Ohlmeyer in 1998 in large part due to his Simpson-related jokes, which continued long after the former football player was acquitted. Macdonald kept up the bit for years, and even tweeted a suggestion to Simpson when he joined Twitter in 2019.

“Hey, OJ, it’s Norm. Listen, be careful about the videos you put out there. I recognize the golf course behind your house I know that exact street and could easily print your address,” he wrote.

“Of course I never would, but others would. Be careful, Juice.”

During his interview with Tapper on Thursday, O’Brien, for his part, abstained from cracking jokes about the notorious sports star.

“I never make a joke about someone the day they pass,” he said, before adding that Tapper can get in touch with him Friday for a good one.

Watch O’Brien’s CNN interview with Tapper in the video above.


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