Are Those Safe Auto Commercials Actually Norm Macdonald’s Suicide Note?

Because he seems despondent in them. You can’t tell me he’s not mainlining Klonopin to get through these spots. (Always pay your bookie first, Norm.)

And some other Norm news lately has been bad or just odd: His live PGA tournament update tweets that border on performance art. HIs peculiar recent controversy about being criticized on Twitter for his study of scripture (?), which made him a fleeting and unlikely rallying point for right-leaning religious types. His swiftly canceled sports show on Comedy Central that just never found a stride. Seems like rocky times to be Norm Macdonald.

Which sucks because Norm Macdonald is funny as hell. And not just from back in the day, in his SNL Weekly Update prime. This clip from a 2009 stand up special is a great example. I especially love this clip because beneath the detached snark he’s personal and poignant while wrecking the feel good characterization of “battling” a terminal disease. And he’s fucking funny. (I tried to embed the clip but Comedy Central’s crappy clip site gives you worthless code. So you just get the link, with an annoying commercial plus inexplicable bleeping of the “swear words.”)

Here he observes why it’s entirely expected for a crocodile hunter to die. As Jon Stewart squirms, Norm just mashes the gas even harder:

Finally, there is this, Macdonald’s much-discussed trolling at the Bob Saget Comedy Central roast a few years back. Norm commits to six-plus minutes of terrible hack jokes, ridiculing the entire roast premise while bewildering many and riotously amusing the handful who caught up with what he was doing.

And our friend Tim O’Shea always finds the hidden gems, in this case Norm breaking down his Saget roast experience to WTF’s Marc Maron. It includes the sublime line, “All I could see were the angry eyes of Alan Thicke.”

5 thoughts on “Are Those Safe Auto Commercials Actually Norm Macdonald’s Suicide Note?

  1. The gentleman doth criticize too much.

    Worse, it’s pretty obvious you don’t “get” Norm’s Safeauto commercials… at all. For starters, the fact that Norm was chosen and agreed to be the spokesman for a midwestern car insurance company is, by itself, pretty breakthrough. In fact, for a conservative car insurance company to even consider a guy as unconventional as Norm is pretty amazing. They should be applauded.

    And to criticize Norm for looking despondent? Wasn’t Norm famous for his uncomfortably long (but undeniably hilarious) deadpan stares into the camera after a Weekend Update joke stalled? In other words, I think you may have Norm confused with Shecky Greene as overtly animated behavior was never Norm’s thing. Quite the contrary. Understated sarcasm has always been his bread and butter. A true fan should know that.

    And as far as the level of humor is concerned, what did you expect? The guys paying for these commercials are no doubt midwestern suits with pretty traditional values. What did you think Norm was going to do…? Come out and make jokes about crack whores and Bob Dole’s nether regions, all while dropping a series of F bombs? Name one insurance executive in America who would sign off on that. Remember, he’s advertising discount car insurance. And for insurance commercials, Norm’s are ten times funnier than anything Flo’s ever done. Or, for that matter, the Geico pig.

    To name just a couple of examples: In one commercial, Norm (with tongue firmly in cheek) contemplates dying alone while joking about his ex-girlfriend. In another, he asks a tailor to let out the crotch of his suit because that particular area is, quote, “A strength.” He even manages to end a couple of commercials with his trademark “Good Lord.” All of which are perfect examples of Norm’s understated style.

    So lighten up. Enjoy the fact that Norm’s finally been recognized by corporate America for his undeniable likability. And start picking on someone who deserves it. Like Alec Baldwin for Capital One. Or Shaq for Gold Bond. (Good Lord!)

    • First of all, thanks for stopping by. We get about 50 visitors a month, so getting an actual comment is like finding $20 in the laundry.

      As for the rest…where to start. The whole point of the post is that Macdonald is underappreciated and at times riotously, subversively funny, and nobody who only knows him from the Safe Auto spots or his recent oddball Twitter activity would know it. Maybe the other stuff in my post where I talked about how riotously, subversively funny he is–with actual documented examples of his riotous, subversive funniness–could’ve provided a clue.

      The fact that you’re comparing the relative humor of his insurance commercials with the broader genre of insurance commercials just makes my point. The Safe Auto ads just don’t work, they’re not funny, he looks embarrassed in them, and it’s a shame that many people probably only know Macdonald from those commercials. Or worse, as that “washed up” guy who used to be on SNL and now has to shill for state minimum coverage. (And for all I know, he loves doing the ads and he’s ferociously proud of them. Don’t know why or how, but maybe.)

      And yes, any reasonable person reading my entire post would recognize that I mistook Norm Macdonald for Shecky Green. So you nailed that.

      Why is it that anyone who admonishes someone else to “lighten up” always seems to do so while sharpening a pencil in his ass?

  2. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him have a sense of humor. (You should have just taken the $20 and been on your way.)

    By the way, the question you pose in the last paragraph of your reply has an easy answer: Because they usually deserve it.


    • That last question was poorly worded and ambiguous. Just to clarify, you’re the uptight, humorless scold telling others to lighten up while simultaneously sharpening pencils in your ass. My bad, I was a little distracted laughing at the clips I posted to make the point that Norm Macdonald is funny. What you were arguing about again?

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