Norm Macdonald’s Favorite Weekend Update Joke Was Told By Dennis Miller

Or maybe it wasn’t told by Miller at all
Norm Macdonald’s Favorite Weekend Update Joke Was Told By Dennis Miller

Scot Bertram, co-host of Saturday Night Live podcast Wasn’t That Special, posted a fun clip this weekend from David Spade’s old Comedy Central show Lights Out. At about the two-minute mark in the video, Spade asks veteran Weekend Update anchors Norm Macdonald, Kevin Nealon and Dennis Miller if they have a favorite joke from the segment. Macdonald immediately volunteered his favorite. “I remember Dennis Miller had a joke. He said, “The Sun Also Rises is going to be turned into a movie, but Hemingway probably wouldn't have liked it. It's called, Ernest Goes to Spain.”

“It’s a fantastic joke,” offered Bertram — with a caveat. See, what the SNL pundit giveth, he also taketh away.

Bertram acknowledges that it might be a punchline from Dennis Miller Live, some other Miller appearance, or even a misremembered gem from Macdonald himself, but in Bertram’s opinion, the joke wasn’t from Miller’s Weekend Update. I’m not sure how Bertram is doing his 50-year rewatch, but certainly, the streaming Peacock versions are incomplete. Could Miller’s joke have simply not made the cut?

In any event, Macdonald got no pushback from Spade, Nealon or Miller, who would have first-hand knowledge if the joke was wrongly attributed. Maybe Miller was too eager to return Macdonald’s compliment. “What about Norm's series of O.J. jokes?” he cackled. “I have to tell you, the true spirit of that Weekend Update is an outlaw sort of mentality. And they told Norm, the guys who sign the checks, as high up as you can go at NBC, they said, ‘Do not do any more O.J. jokes. He's my friend.’ Norm comes out the next week and completely blottos O.J.”

Miller led a round of applause for Macdonald’s audacity in the face of corporate pressure, but Macdonald suggested that perhaps he was the one who’d been wrong all along. “Now, in this cancel culture, I have to say I no longer take that position with O.J. Simpson,” he confessed in a complete deadpan. “He was found not guilty by a jury of his peers. I accept that. I see him as the greatest rusher. That's all he's guilty of to me, being the greatest rusher in the history of the NFL. Maybe I was the greatest rusher … to judgment!” 

Norm’s new bit, as Spade put it, was acting as O.J.’s new PR guy. “He's fantastic,” Macdonald gushed, noting that Simpson had recently been named to an all-time NFL team. “He's paid his debt to society, and I think he's a hell of a guy.”

Miller found Macdonald’s pro-Simpson turnaround to be completely in character. “That’s Norm,” Miller insisted. “If you tell him to do an O.J. joke, he won’t do that either.”


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