"My idea was to get guys as old as possible and work backwards, like before they died. Because I find those old guys will say anything because they're not in show business anymore."
– Norm Macdonald
Norm Macdonald: Hey, Guy.
Guy MacPherson: Hello, Norman. How are you?
NM: Good, man. We’ve spoken at such length I wonder if I have anything left to say.
GM: Well, I’ve got more to ask.
NM: You doing this podcast festival also?
NM: What?! I thought you were the big podcast!(laughs)
GM: Apparently not.
NM: What the–?
GM: Only when you’re my guest. Then it’s big. Then around the world people listen.
NM: They wanted me to do the podcast and I’m like, I think it would be a gyp. Because I know some people tape their podcast on the road and stuff but it seems like it would be very hit and miss, like to charge people. Don’t you think?
GM: I’ve seen live podcasts and you’re right. But fans of those shows eat it up and that’s who’s going. The podcast fest in LA just finished, right?
NM: No, I did not know that. I know one time I went to Newfoundland and they had Kevin Smith there for a month. A full month! Like every night. He just talked. Comic books and he did a podcast with the guy who did Jay and Silent Bob. I guess some of those guys are kinda like ComicCon guys. They have a strong, loyal audience.
GM: I know Greg Proops travels around the world doing his podcast before a live audience.
NM: Does he? Wow.
GM: And his is just one person and it goes on forever. But I would definitely go see yours.
NM: He just talks, one person?
GM: It’s like a one-man show and he’s up there for about 90 minutes.
NM: And it’s different every time?
GM: So it is hit and miss because it’s different every time. He’s got a quick mind and all, but you can’t–
NM: No! That sounds crazy. Yeah, because I said, Can’t I just do standup? Because then I’d also have to find a guest. It seemed like an awful lot of work. Then I’d be really nervous that nothing would happen.
GM: Wouldn’t it be good practice for your talk show?
NM: (laughs) Well, that’s true. That’s true.
GM: Before a live audience.
NM: I don’t know. It seems more fun to do it with no audience.
GM: I totally love the no audience.
NM: David Letterman did a week with no audience. Did you ever see that?
GM: I don’t think so. On the old NBC show?
NM: No, just like maybe a year ago. Something happened. I can’t remember what it was. But anyways, so for a week he did it with no audience and they said it was really good and he loved it because he doesn’t need the audience really. And when we do our stupid little podcast, it’s way more fun without an audience.
GM: When I started mine, the role models were Tom Snyder and Bob Costas.
NM: Yeah, those were the two best.
GM: And Snyder would talk to the camera and the crew would laugh. I just loved that.
NM: Oh, me, too. Yeah. I remember when I was a kid, I would watch that show real late at night. I wasn’t that much into Carson. I don’t even remember Carson very much but I remember Tom Snyder because it felt like you were the only person watching because people didn’t watch in the middle of the night like they do now. Yeah, and it was just a super close-up of his face and cigarette smoke and the crew would laugh. And then I did the show when he did the Tomorrow show and the crew was these old men and he does these filthy jokes between the commercials. It was horrible.
GM: It was always the Tomorrow show but was that when he had an audience?
NM: No, it wasn’t the Tomorrow show. I didn’t do that. It was the Late, Late Show when he came back after Letterman. But that’s right, the Tomorrow show did have an audience and that was awful.
GM: I know, I hated that.
NM: Rona Barrett.
GM: Rona Barrett! That's what I was going to say!
NM: Yeah, that's the craziest.
GM: "We've got to get the kids watching. Let's get a middle-aged lady on."
GM: I'm glad you're doing standup. Last time I saw you was a few years ago at Yuk Yuk's.
NM: That's right.
GM: And now you're doing the theatre.
NM: Is it a theatre? Every time I do a different thing up there. What other podcast...? Is it really a festival? Are there Canadian podcasts?
GM: Yeah, there are. More popular than mine. It's a small festival. There are ten podcasts. Duncan Trussell has one in it. A Canadian one is Stop Podcasting Yourself. Savage Love, you know Dan Savage?
NM: Not Savage Nation, not that guy?
GM: The guy who does the sex advice.
NM: Oh, no, no, no. There's a guy here who does Savage Nation that's a crazy guy, you know? Like super right wing but super insane right wing where it's almost a joke. No, I haven't heard of Savage Love.
GM: Dan Savage. He's a sex columnist. And also the Sklar Brothers. They're coming.
NM: Oh, the Sklar Brothers. They're the twins, right? I always wondered how they got work. (laughs) They look exactly the same and talk exactly the same.
GM: You listen to their podcast and it's clearly two people but they sound the same and I never know who's who and who's talking.
NM: Oh, I know, yeah. Well, Carolla used to used to have his buddy Dave Dameshek on the show and he sounded too much like him. You'd go, Is that Adam or the other guy? You couldn't tell. So yeah, with these guys it would be very confusing.
GM: You're the only non-podcast in the podcast festival. You must feel special about that. Are you bringing an opener?
NM: Yeah, I'm bringing this guy Sean O'Connor. He's real funny. You should interview him.
GM: I'll have to look him up.
NM: You can YouTube him. Yeah, he's really funny. He's a young kid.
GM: Is your show coming back soon?
NM: You mean the podcast?
NM: It was going to come back. They wanted me to come back but they had some crazy [inaudible]. And I was like, I'll just do it for free. I don't want to do that kind of thing. They want to charge people for it, which I think is ridiculous because people will just get angry at me, you know? I guess you could, like, beg for money like some of them, like you're a communist or something, you know? 'If you want to help out...!' They were supposed to bring it back like this week but then they said they want to charge people two dollars. And I was like, I don't want to charge anyone because people will just really hate you if you do that.
GM: You'll get people who will pay, obviously. But then you'll get people like me who will stop watching!
NM: I know, I would be very angry if someone did that.
GM: So is it up in the air? You might not come back?
NM: No, I'll come back. But it won't be for a while because I have a whole bunch of standup till Christmas. I'm not going to come back until like December, I think. It's not that far.
GM: I love the Jack Carter episode.
NM: Oh, yeah, yeah! Well, that's the funny thing is the guys I like, they hate, that we do on the podcast. That's funny that you like Jack Carter because me and all my buddies and anybody I know like the Jack Carter, but they're like, "Let's get Simon Helberg." Most of the people I don't have a single question for that they want. Like, they wanted young guys so they got this guy from The Big Bang Theory. He was nice enough but completely uninteresting and then no one watched it. Like, no one cared, you know? Just because he's young, no one...
GM: You're always going to get people who go, 'Who's this old guy?' But if they actually stop and listen, it was fantastic.
NM: Yeah. Kind of my idea was to get guys as old as possible and work backwards, like before they died. Because I find those old guys will say anything because they're not in show business anymore. (laughs)
GM: That's exactly it. He doesn't care if he insults someone.
NM: Yeah. We cut out a thing with Jack Carter where he was talking about the war and everything. I said, "How about the war?" He goes, "It was great!" I thought, really? The second world war was great? And he goes, "I got very lucky. Because my entire unit on D-Day went to Normandy and they all died. Except for me. I got terribly sick three days before." And I was like, "Oh, man, it sounds like you faked it." And he's like, "I did." (laughs) And he's like, "And I never told anybody that before." And I went, "Oh, you were a deserter. I think that's still a crime." He's like, "Yeah, I never tell anybody that." So I was like, "Oh, that's cool." But no one else wanted to put it in. (laughs) Then I didn't put it in the podcast but I thought that was the funnest part of the whole thing. He blurted out this deathbed confession.
GM: He was a powerhouse performer. Had opening numbers and closing numbers.
NM: Yeah, I saw this clip of him on YouTube that I wanted to put in but they never got this podcast properly done that I wanted to. We could just use all these YouTube clips and put them in, like Costas just dropped them in. They didn't even understand that. They're like, "We'll come in with a bumper." I'm like, "No, no, Costas would just drop them into the middle of the conversation and wouldn't comment on them." Anyway, there's one on YouTube where he's on the Judy Garland show or something like that. It was very cool. He's like, "I'm a comic. It's easy for a singer, you get a big band around you. You get all this accompaniment but a comic, you don't get anything." So Judy Garland goes, "I'll give you accompaniment." So then they have the band playing while he did his jokes. It was very conceptual for the time. When you think of Jack Carter, you don't think that... It was almost like a Steve Martin bit, you know?
Publicist: Hi, Norm. So sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to let you know if you wanted to start wrapping up, we've got your next interview.
NM: Oh, my lord, we haven't even... He hasn't even asked a question yet.
Publicist: Oh, really? Do you want me to push your next interview?
NM: I could phone Guy back, I guess, because this other person has a deadline or something, right?
Publicist: Yeah. So let me know.
NM: Can I phone you back, Guy?
GM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
NM: Someone has a deadline. At the Vancouver Sun or whatever.
GM: Is that Shawn? If that's Shawn, don't give him anything good.
GM: Okay, call me back.
Norm never called back.