He described his life as a sprint to outrun the wolves of uselessness. "They grabbed and devoured me years ago, " he wrote in his 2016 quasi-memoir, "Based on a true story ".
It doesn't matter whether he believed this about herself (Macdonald was a very skillful liar) and there is merit in his stand-up remarks and its cedits, but the ornate way he fights hints at a deeper truth: Macdonald was not only one of the funniest comedians of his generation, but also a devious esthete who elevated the stand-up. , helping to transform its cultural prestige over the past decades into an art worthy of respect.
Its legacy is not clear from its level of celebrity or even his list of TV shows and specials, although he has a few notable accomplishments including a first stint as a writer on "Roseanne " and one of the best Netflix specials of the past decade, " Hitler 's Dog, Gossip & Trickery ". Macdonald 's greatness is not on target its IMDb page as much as in the number of moments you must see, the kind your friends tell you about at parties and then send you the clip the next day.
Many of them were from talk shows, where he was a famous guest. He said to one of the targets most deservedly revered jokes at the end - the night story of Conan O 'Brien ' Tonight ", a Absurd masterpiece of literary suspense about a moth in a podiatrist's office Another couch moment on the same show went viral decades later: he interrupted an interview with the podiatrist. 'actress Courtney Thorne-Smith for savagely insulting Carrot Top, the star of the film she was promoting, an act of brutally sabotagehilarious.
Macdonald had other talents. When it comes to roast parodies, he stood alone, intentionally spinning horrible jokes at Bob Saget roast in a disorienting performance art that remains l One of the funniest anti-comedy pieces you will ever see. And on "Saturday Night Live," he may have been at his best on the weekend update desk (he was eventually fired after his jokes on OJ Simpson), but he also delivered several impressions. singular, including a version of David Letterman that was both accurate and far too bizarre to be realistic.
Letterman has proven to be a key figure about the career of Macdonald, a champion of stand-up work (the host of the talk-show said no one was funnier) who booked the comic for the last week of their show. Macdonald, breaking away from his characteristic acerbic style, ended with a surprisingly moving tribute, displaying an emotional side that usually only lurked under the surface of his comedy.
In a 2017 column , I argued that what set Macdonald's comedy apart was h is its sensitivity to language, its particularly poetic way of speaking bluntly. He made elegant turns and folk flourishes seem conversational and casual. A lover of Bob Dylan, Macdonald was also a sponge for influences, borrowing and reusing figures of speech or unusual words to create funny phrases.
But thedescribing as a simple joke-writing master, its speed, its straightforward and ironic delivery and, most importantly, a unique level of engagement. He never gave up on jokes and never flattered. We see it in his roast Bob Saget: the conviction to pass despite the confusion of the answer. It pleased the crowd without pleasing the crowd. And no one had a more agile and assertive sarcastic voice, which he used to find humor in ambiguity. A few years ago, there was a wonderfully weird moment on David Spade's talk show when Macdonald told Jay Leno he was perhaps the best talk show host ever, and that no one, including Leno, seemed able to tell if he was sincere.
There is a lot of fun to be had in this liminal space between seriousness and joke. One of Macdonald's most impressive feats is writing an entire memoirwho stays there. It is one of the greatest memoir of comedians, but also a conspicuously frustrating mix of fact and fiction, cliche and originality. It is very funny, sometimes tedious, sometimes wise. The title, " Based on a true story , "is not just a gag. It 's rooted in his faith that, as he puts it," there is no way to tell a true story. I mean really true, because of the memory. It's just not good. "
This is no Just because you can't tell a real real thing doesn't mean that art can't come close to the truth. In a interview with New York magazine , Macdonald opposed the trend vtowards denominational art, saying he thought art was meant to be about cover-up. This was revealing.
The fact that he battled cancer for a decade was something thing he certainly didn 't do in his job. His death was a shock to many. But the clues were everywhere. Death has been one of his favorite subjects in recent years. In a big viral moment, he delivered one of the first and best coronavirus comedy club sets. It was at Improv in Los Angeles in March 2020 just before theaters close. "It 's funny that we all know now how we are going to die," he said. "It's just a matter of order.
At the beginning of his memoirs, he says that he read on his Wikipedia page that he was dead. Then he imagines if it was true, laughing until a thought loomed over him. 'Cold stop. "The absurd lie on the screen in front of me is not that far away," he wrote. It sounded like a funny melodrama when I read it for the first time, but now it hits differently.
Macdonald once spoke of an uncle dying of cancer, twisting the way we now describe people suffer from this disease like 'fighting a battle' because it means the last thing you do before you die is lose. "I'm not a doctor, but I'm pretty sure if you die, cancer also dies at the same time, "Macdonald said on Comedy Central." For me, it's not a loss. It's a draw. "