Norm Macdonald on battling cancer

The comedian just died of cancer at the age of 61. I had never actually seen him perform but read that he had a droll deadpan manner and an offbeat take on the mundane. I came across this audio recording of a stand up bit that he did ten years ago that dealt with something that also has struck me as odd, that when it comes to cancer, people who have it are always described as ‘battling it’, a fighting metaphor that is rarely applied to other ailments.

Macdonald had apparently kept his cancer diagnosis secret so that his death came as a surprise to those who knew him. Maybe he did not want to have people talking about him too ‘battling’ cancer.


  1. says

    Unfortunately, he’s not the only one who had cancer for ten years and died this week.

    Clive Sinclair died on Thursday (July 30, 1940 to September 16, 2021). His Spectrum computers barely sold in North America (competing with Apple, Commodore, Atari and Texas Instruments), so I never saw anyone with them. But were massively popular across the UK, parts of Europe and even the Soviet Union (sold or illegally cloned) and taught programming to millions.

  2. Silentbob says


    Sorry to add to the derail, Mano. But I had a Sinclair ZX-80 with it’s 1kB of RAM. The “80” was for the year of release. The next year I upgraded to a ZX-81, which doubled -- doubled I say! -- the ROM (that’s read only memory, kids) from 4kB to 8kB. That didn’t involve buying a new machine, by the way, you plugged in a new chip and then your ZX-80 was a ZX-81!

    The keyboard didn’t have any actual, y’know, keys. It was a membrane; it plugged into the telly as a monitor; and to store programs -- you know those hefty 8kB programs -- you had a cassette recorder, so you played the program as audio onto a cassette for storage, and then played it back into the computer to reload it.

    I remember being awed that I owned an actual computer. An actual computer! Like on Star Trek! Moonbases and flying cars were clearly just around the corner. 🙂

  3. DonDueed says

    The clip is hilarious!

    These days you hear about people battling COVID. I guess it’s what’s after your wife and cubicle now.

  4. Holms says

    Damn, he had one of the best approaches to comedic delivery. Also, he never stopped taking shots at probable murderer OJ Simpson, even when he was told he’d be fired from SNL if he continued.

  5. John Morales says

    First, he was right: cancer is ‘fought’ or ‘battled’, and suicide is ‘committed’.

    When I first saw this, I thought of Garry McDonald (“Norman Gunston”), an Australian comedian and actor. Never heard of the featured guy until this story.

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