Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Just Norm MacDonald, having a Pokémon battle on his old sitcom

Illustration for article titled Just Norm MacDonald, having a Pokémon battle on his old sitcom
Screenshot: The Norm Show (YouTube)

The turn of the millennium was a heady time. There was the Y2K bug and a change in American presidents to worry about, Creed was a legitimate force in pop culture, and, most importantly, those damn kids couldn’t stop talking about their damn Pokémon. Pokémania was spreading so quickly, in fact, that even Norm MacDonald—who’s never seemed one for cartoon monsters—took part in it on an episode of his old sitcom, The Norm Show.


If this seems unbelievable, watch the above clip, taken from the third episode of the show’s second season back in 1999, to see just how fully MacDonald commits to the scene. In it, MacDonald (who plays an amateur social worker) confronts a boy about how he spends all his time watching the Pokémon cartoon and running “around the city trying to capture these so-called creatures.”

The boy, dressed up in a full-on Ash Ketchum costume, soon gets into an argument with MacDonald, flips his ball cap backwards, and summons a Pikachu—which looks to be a big child or small adult decked out in an oversized plush suit. Though it seems too good to be true, MacDonald responds in kind.

“Surprise! For I, too, am a Pokey-mon trainer!” he says.

Anime-style flashes of light surround MacDonald’s face and a guy with blue face paint, standing uncomfortably in a Squirtle costume, appears to recite some painful jokes.

“I’ll be in my shell,” Squirtle says as the kid threatens him. “You tell me how it works out.”

There are some pretty-impressive-for-a-sitcom special effects as Pikachu fires an electric bolt and MacDonald recites lines like “Quit hiding, you’re a fighting Pokey-mon!” before throwing out Laurie Metcalf in a purple bodysuit. The jokes, such as turning Squirtle into soup, are terrible, but the costumes are surprisingly detailed and, really, seeing Norm MacDonald having to participate in a Pokémon battle to earn his paycheck is enough on its own.


An extremely brief Wikipedia summary of the episode—”Artie Comes To Town”—explains that it’s mostly about “Norm’s brother (Artie Lange) [visiting] him,” but adds a special, italicized note that “There is a Pokémon scene at the start of the episode.” There sure is, and it’s time the world remembered.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.