Norm Macdonald’s 8 Funniest Bits, From Turd Ferguson to the Moth Joke (Videos)

Comedian died on Tuesday at age 61 after a private bout with cancer

Norm Macdonald
Photo credit: Getty Images

Norm Macdonald, who passed away Tuesday at age 61, is being remembered for his sharp wit and sharper tongue. Watch these brilliant moments of comedy from his career.

The comedian was best known for his work on “Saturday Night Live,” which paid tribute to him on Tuesday as “one of the most impactful comedic voices of his or any other generation. There are so many things that we’ll miss about Norm — from his unflinching integrity to his generosity to his consistent ability to surprise. But most of all he was just plain funny. No one was funny like Norm.”

Here, we look back at some of his most side-splitting moments on screen.

Burt Reynolds aka Turd Ferguson on “Saturday Night Live”

While best known for anchoring “Weekend Update,” Macdonald found himself in other “Saturday Night Live” sketches. For the recurring “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch beginning in 1996, Macdonald channel a hat-wearing, gum-smacking Burt Reynolds. The catfch, “Reynolds” would only go by the name “Turd Ferguson.”

Macdonald as Reynolds as Ferguson became so iconic that he reprised the role for the show’s 40th anniversary. Turd even made it onto the real “Jeopardy” when a contestant wrote it as her final “Jeopardy” answer.

Weekend Update

As previously mentioned, Macdonald sat on the Weekend Update anchor desk in the early to mid-’90s. While some of his jokes haven’t aged well (particularly those about LGTBQ people and women’s looks), his ability to deliver a punchline (and an occasional side comment) was undeniable.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien” Appearance (1997)

In 1997, Macdonald appeared on “Late Night” with then-“Melrose Place” star Courtney Thorne-Smith, who was promoting her film “Chairman of the Board” co-starring Carrot Top.

Macdonald once again demonstrated his ability to think quickly on his feet after posed a challenge by Conan. Watch above.

The Moth Joke

Macdonald and O’Brien would reunite on “The Tonight Show” in 2017, where he told his now infamous moth joke. We’re not going to give anything away, but It’s four minutes’ worth of Macdonald magic.

Bob Saget Roast

While roasting his good friend and fellow comedian Bob Saget, Macdonald pulled his punches and delivered a slew of antiquated G-rated jokes (on purpose, as the explains in the clip above). Jim Norton, who was also in attendance, said watching that set was like “watching Henry Fonda pick blueberries.”

Macdonald replied, “I don’t think there’s a person in here that would not love to watch Henry Fonda pick blueberries,” winning back the audience. In later interviews, Macdonald would admit he didn’t get the “On Golden Pond” reference, but nonetheless used the occasion to demonstrate his quick wit.

Tribute to David Letterman

Macdonald would appear on many late night shows over the years.

Here’s his final late-night routine on Letterman’s “Late Night” in 2015. After performing his set, Macdonald tears up while talking about the first time he saw the host and one of his all-time idols. It’s a beautiful tribute.

Macdonald on COVID

Macdonald continued to perform despite his private battle with cancer.

In this set from 2020, he tackled the big topic of the day: the coronavirus. In it, he jokes about washing his hands and his own mortality.

On “Battling” Cancer

In 2011, Macdonald talked about his uncle’s bout with cancer in terms that fans agree serve as a wonderful epitaph for Macdonald himself.

“I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor — but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss. That’s a draw,: Macdonald said in what is obviously a timeless joke.

Chip Ross contributed to this report.