Norm Macdonald is a certified comic genius, one whose credits include some very funny books, TV shows, podcasts, roast material, and that time he told Courtney Thorne-Smith her new Carrot Top movie should be called “Box Office Poison.” He’s also known for his occasional bursts of character work—his Burt Reynolds having a warm, Turd Ferguson-spouting place in many people’s hearts—a pursuit he engaged in once again earlier tonight, when he debuted his latest character, “Guy Who Kind Of Threatens To Violently Attack A Journalist He Doesn’t Like.”
And we’re not gonna lie: It’s pretty, uh, conceptual stuff, in terms of being a break from the material we’re mostly used to seeing Macdonald do—although it does seem to have a spiritual ancestor in the form of last year’s equally challenging “Guy Who Says A Lot Of Pretty Dumb Shit In Interviews About Louis CK.” The subject of this new obviously-just-a-character character’s anger, meanwhile, was online journalist Seth Simons, who attracted a fresh dose of faux-ire on Twitter last month after he helped draw attention to a video in which comedian Shane Gillis played a character of his own, “Guy Who Does Hacky Racist Material That Gets Him Fired From His New Job At SNL.” (That one was more of a performance piece.)
Simons is a popular target for the clearly fictitious characters created and played by a number of prominent comedians on social media; Michael Che’s character, “Guy Who Gets Bizarrely Defensive When Anyone Says Anything Bad About Colin Jost,” has frequently taken time out of his busy, non-existent day to mock him for his vile practice of reporting and pointing out the awful shit that other people (by which we mean, of course, other people’s characters) have actually said. Meanwhile, Macdonald’s character—which he’s been workshopping on, where else, Twitter—has been vocally supportive of Gillis’ outsider art in recent weeks; the main thesis of Macdonald’s own work appears to be to mock the idea that someone getting fired from a TV show is equivalent to having them murdered, or causing them to be “destroyed.”
Anyway, we’re just grateful to be able to bask in the satirical work of so many veteran talents—many of them, as it happens, former Saturday Night Live and Weekend Update stars—who have taken up this cause in recent years, and for their willingness to devote the latter days of their careers to lampooning the idea of comedians growing increasingly tribal, insular, and closed-minded as the years advance, solidifying into hermit crabs of resentment who interpret every request for adjustment or moderation as some kind of widespread and vicious attack on their right to say whatever they want. Truly, these guys (it’s almost always guys, weirdly) hold up a twisted mirror to our much more normal, less deeply depressing reality, where comedy heroes do not, Dark Knight-esque, inevitably live long enough to turn into the most crotchety kind of villain—even if we do wish someone would let marathon performance artist Dennis Miller know it’s probably time to come home.