Every Purposefully Corny Joke from Norm Macdonald’s Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget, Ranked

Every Purposefully Corny Joke from Norm Macdonald’s Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget, Ranked

One of the things that made Norm Macdonald a comedy legend was that he absolutely hated being told how he should do comedy. He wasn’t one of those “Hey, look at me! I’m breaking all the rules!” kinda comics, but he did march to the beat of his own drum, and all anyone else could do was try to keep up. And if they couldn’t, he would do everything in his power to make it as awkward as possible — keeping a total straight face while doing so.

This spirit was on full display when Macdonald was on the dais of the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget. Macdonald had been conflicted about doing the roast. He wanted to be a part of his good friend’s big night, but he hated the whole idea of roasts and couldn’t bring himself to say anything bad about Saget — even if it was just for a joke. 

And so, Macdonald repurposed a bunch of lame, squeaky-clean one-liners from a 1950s cocktail party joke book and delivered them with total sincerity. From the audience’s perspective, it looked like he was bombing, but he was slaying it with the other comics present, because they knew what they were witnessing: a pitch-perfect anti-comedy performance piece. Macdonald was roasting the very concept of roasts.

Unfortunately, Comedy Central never released the full 20-minute set — #ReleaseTheNormCut, anyone? — but below are the 15 jokes that did air, ranked by purposeful corniness/awfulness, Macdonald’s delivery and sheer audience bewilderment.

Target: Bob Saget

“Bob has a beautiful face, like a flower — yeah, a cauliflower. No offense, but your face looks like a cauliflower.”

This was in the middle of the set, and the joke was the adequate amount of WTF in the valley of a set that’s composed entirely of WTF moments.

Target: John Stamos

“I wanna start with John Stamos, our esteemed roastmaster. John has a reputation for being a bit of a swinger. Did you know that instead of an umbilical cord, John was born with a bungee cord?”

First joke of the set, and while it’s customary to roast the roastmaster right out of the gate, perhaps Macdonald tipped his hand too much on the overall gag of the jokes being lame on purpose. It caught everyone off-guard and made them go, “Wait, what?!?” What saved it was the look on Macdonald’s face — you could tell that he was up to something. 

Target: Greg Giraldo

“Greg Giraldo has the grace of a swan, the wisdom of an owl and the eye of an eagle — ladies and gentlemen, this man is for the birds!”

At this point in the set, everyone was starting to catch on to what Macdonald was doing, so the joke needed to be a little bit neutral to drag out the mystery a bit longer. 

Target: Bob Saget

“I’ve heard you have hair on your chest Bob, and let me tell you — that’s not your only resemblance to Rin Tin Tin. Your fucking dog face — how can you not get that?”

The only F-bomb in the set. Macdonald also broke character a bit by admonishing the audience for not getting the joke. But wasn’t that the point of the jokes being bad in the first place?

Target: Bob Saget

“(Bob’s) a good guy. He’s never bought Christmas seals — he told me he wouldn’t know what to feed them.”

A reference to Christmas seals was out-of-left-field by itself, but to bring it up at a show that was filmed in the middle of summer made it all the more weird.

Target: Bob Saget

“As you can see, he has wavy hair. It’s waving goodbye — on account of he’s going bald!”

A groaner for sure, but again, that’s the whole point.

Target: Susie Essman

“Susie Essman, of course, is famous for being a vegetarian. Hey, she may be a vegetarian, but she’s still full of baloney in my book.”

This was right around the point when the audience figured out where Macdonald was truly going here. 

Target: Bob Saget

“Bob is not very worldly. He thinks the English Channel is a British TV station, and not a body of water separating England and France.”

Macdonald could’ve stopped this joke right after the word “station,” and it would’ve worked just fine in the context of the set. But to go on for 10 more words to spoon-feed it to the hypothetical dumbest person in the room is beautiful icing on the cake.

Target: Bob Saget

“I think that Bob should join the Ku Klux Klan. And that’s not because he’s racist. He’s not racist. It’s just that he’d look a lot better with a hood over his head, on account of his face.”

A bit of a style break, in that with minimal tweaking, this joke could work fairly well if Macdonald had chosen to do a traditional roast set. The shtick was wearing a bit thin by this point, so it was a solid misdirect to make everyone think that maybe he was gonna drop the lame jokes and really start roasting Saget for real.

Target: Gilbert Gottfried

“I love Gilbert. When you go to the men’s room later, you’ll see a sign that says, ‘Gentlemen.’ Pay no heed, go right in — there’s no room that says, ‘Scoundrel’ on it.”

Yes, the setup is clunky, but any joke that manages to use “pay no heed” and “scoundrel” is going to be funny.

Target: Bob Saget

“Bob, you have a lot of well-wishers here tonight, and a lot of them would like to throw you down one — a well. They want to murder you in a well. Seems a little harsh, but apparently they want to murder you in a well… It says here on this card.”

A lame pun, for sure, but to go on to point out the double entendre, then rephrase the whole punchline, then rephrase it again and show the card it’s written on? Macdonald made the joke a five-hit combo. 

Target: Bob Saget

“Bob isn’t the biggest sports fan. I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school. I took him to a ballgame, and he came toting a double-barrelled shotgun. You remember that? I said, ‘What the H is that for?’ Bob said, ‘I heard the Lions were playing the Tigers.’ You remember that?”

A classic old-school street joke, and in the context of this set, it worked well. But it was Macdonald’s repeating of “You remember that?” with absolute sincerity that sealed the deal. 

Target: Cloris Leachman

“Cloris, if people say you’re over the hill, don’t believe them. You’ll never be over the hill — not in the car you drive.”

Having this serve as the second joke provided some early misdirection, making the audience think that maybe the first joke was just an unfortunate misfire and not that Macdonald was intentionally sabotaging himself.

Target: Bob Saget

“There are times when Bob has something on his mind — when he wears a hat! With no thoughts at all, just a hat.”

A classic dad joke elevated by a classic Macdonald delivery. The way his voice went up on “when he wears a hat!” was particularly great.

Closing Remarks

“In all seriousness, Bob was the first comedian that I ever saw perform when I was a boy live, and I loved him. But one thing that bonds us as comedians is we’re bitter and jealous, and we hate everyone else that has any success. But Bob, honestly, has never had an unkind word for anybody, and I love him, and I hope everyone else does. So I just wanna say that. Thank you.”

Not a single joke to be found, of course, but it still deserves the top spot because this was all that Macdonald really wanted to say on stage that night. The jokes were just his malicious compliance to the rules of the roast. He had to throw himself on that grenade to say what he believed really needed to be said.

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