Norm Macdonald explains Larry King's influence on his new Netflix series
The stand-up comedian and Saturday Night Live alum just can’t let his favorite Larry King anecdote go.
Macdonald, whose new Netflix talk show, Norm Macdonald has a Show, streams this Friday, often recalls how the famous broadcaster apparently comforted a grieving woman with a pithy quote from actor Paul Newman.
“I saw Larry King say this,” he swears to me. “He's sometimes like a robot, without feelings, and so he's talking to this person. I can't remember who the person was, but the person says, ‘You know, Larry, I lost my second child that summer, and you should never have you bury your child.’ It’s so emotional, and then Larry King goes, ‘Paul Newman told me you never got over it.’ Um, what?”
Considering the fact that Macdonald spent years impersonating King on Saturday Night Live, it comes as no surprise that the 58-year-old comic would still enjoy poking fun at the 84-year-old former CNN personality. It’s also not surprising at all that, on the eve of his new Netflix talk show’s premiere, Macdonald cites King as one of many inspirations for wanting to do such a program in the first place.
As Macdonald tells me, he spent much of his youth listening to King and other radio broadcasters like him.
“When I was a kid, Larry King was on the radio and he talked for three hours every night to these weird people that phoned in. You know, it was those type of broadcasts,” he says. “But those guys are gone now, and this is the interesting part. I don’t think young people today go, ‘I’d rather watch a 70-year-old guy on TV.’ Or even the 50 year olds. They want to watch much younger people, like them.”
“Then again, when I was a kid,” Macdonald continues, “I also like listening to or watching people who were closer in age to me. I thought they were more hilarious, too.”
This brings us to a particular question I had for Macdonald about who Norm Macdonald has a Show is for. Obviously, longtime fans of the Canadian comedian with Netflix subscriptions will be tuning in once all of its episodes drop on Friday. So too will SNL viewers who were more accustomed to Macdonald’s biting comedy on Weekend Update. There’s already a strong and dedicated fanbase for his work, and Norm admits he isn’t necessarily looking for newcomers.
Then again, he knows that, thanks to YouTube and other streaming services, younger generations have been turned on to older show that aired before their time. He himself recently did just that during a random deep dive into all things Orson Welles.
“I watch a lot of long form on YouTube, because I get obsessed with one person or thing, and I've got to watch every single thing they ever said or did,” he says. “Like Orson Welles, for example. There's like a dozen interviews with him on YouTube, and after watching them you basically learn everything there is to know about him. I like that ability, with YouTube. You can say you want to know everything about this one thing, and a lot of it’s there for you to see.”
All episodes of Norm Macdonald has a Show stream Friday on Netflix.