Norm Macdonald’s OJ Simpson Jokes: A History

Norm Macdonald's OJ Simpson Jokes
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April 13th, 2024 – Following this week’s death of O.J. Simpson, many reminisced about Norm Macdonald, the comedic deadpan master, who had a long-running feud…well, not exactly a feud, but a relentless stream of jokes aimed at O.J. It all began during Macdonald’s stint as anchor of “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live (SNL) in the mid-90s. The O.J. Simpson murder trial dominated the news cycle, and Macdonald, never one to shy away from controversy, took aim.

His jokes weren’t celebratory of Simpson. They were dark, dry, and often pointedly critical. He’d quip about Simpson’s glove size, his driving habits, or his claim he would “take a bullet” for his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson (who, tragically, was one of the murder victims).

These jokes struck a nerve. Some viewers found them hilarious, a necessary dose of dark humor in a grim situation. Others were offended, especially those who believed Simpson was innocent. Lorne Michaels, SNL’s creator, reportedly asked Macdonald to tone it down. Macdonald, ever the contrarian, doubled down.

This culminated in his departure from SNL in 1998. While declining ratings were cited as the official reason, Macdonald himself believed his O.J. jokes played a role. He never stopped telling them, though, incorporating them into his stand-up routines for years.

The whole episode cemented Macdonald’s reputation as a fearless comedian, willing to push boundaries and take risks. It also highlighted the delicate dance between humor and tragedy. Even after Simpson’s death in 2020, Macdonald’s O.J. jokes remain a fascinating chapter in comedic history, a testament to his unique voice and the enduring power of dark humor.

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