It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.
For years, comedians and comedy fans openly pondered why someone as brilliant as Norm MacDonald hadn’t yet been given his own talk show. In the end, it took a platform as risk-taking as Netflix to make it happen—Norm MacDonald Has A Show premieres later this year—because, well, Norm doesn’t really like being told what to do.
Case in point: In 2013, Norm launched Norm MacDonald Live, a partnership with Jash and YouTube that found a slovenly Norm, often clad in sweatshirts and baseball caps, interviewing celebrities on a low-rent set alongside dopey sidekick Adam Eget. It was a perfect fit, as Norm didn’t have to adopt the formal, family-friendly milieu of the late-night scene. As the host, he led guests down bizarre paths, relentlessly bullied Eget, and regularly drew gasps with his astoundingly profane jokes. Still, something’s gotta keep those studio lights on, and that something was, at least in the first season, the ManGrate.
The ManGrate, a cast iron grilling grate that promises “real steakhouse flavor,” sponsored the show in its early going, meaning Norm was forced to read the company’s marketing copy onscreen, a task he simply could not do without making his guests lose their absolute shit. Of course, Norm being Norm, he leaned into his ain’t-I-a-stinker charm by bellowing boilerplate phrases like “no more dry meat!” and “no more flare-ups!” before cheekily asking his guests why they would laugh and “make a mockery of the ManGrate.”
Elsewhere in the promos, he would break from the script to denigrate the copy (“You can put chicken on it or steak...that’s not that unique”), ask about Andy Dick’s dead family, say things like “fat, plumpy, delicious cock,” and let Nick Swardson do his impression of Don Knotts having kinky sex. ManGrate, understandably, pulled its sponsorship after a few episodes.
The above compilation—created by D. Brooks—not only captures Norm’s Mangrate shilling in all its glory, but also the chaotic, profane nature of Norm MacDonald Live in its earliest iteration, before Norm presumably got a slap on the wrist and began promoting in earnest. Nowhere will you find a more pure distillation of the comedian’s id than in the series’ first six episodes, each of which, as you can see in the compilation, is filled with genuine, spontaneous laughter.
Also, having tested it, the ManGrate absolutely succeeds in delivering that “real steakhouse flavor.” Everybody wins.