COMEDY: Continually cancelled, Norm MacDonald rolls on dryly

It’s hard not to like a comedian with balls so large Andy Kaufman would have had trouble carrying them, but really, that’s what Norm MacDonald’s entire career has been.

Unabashedly Canadian — that means he doesn’t bash Canadians, we think — he’s made a long and, we assume, healthy living out of dryly commenting on the absurdity south of the border. And getting cancelled on TV shows. Twice this week alone!

Dry doesn’t even begin to describe him. It’s more like sandpaper. Really. That’s how MacDonald, who played Friday at River Cree Casino, hits some yankees. Some of his stuff is so harshly sarcastic or absurdist, Itchy and Scratchy would rub their eyes in amazement. Well … Itchy would. Then he’d rub Scratchy’s eyes with razor blades and dynamite.

His driest piece of gallow humour ever? Everyone goes back to the OJ Simpson stuff or the “Michael Jackson is a pedophile” material. But MacDonald’s best line? (And if this offends, please cordially beat your head against the wall until unconscious) That came from the horrible murder of Wisconsin cross-dresser Teena Brandon, made famous in the film Boys Don’t Cry.

“In Nebraska, a man was sentenced to death for killing a female crossdresser, who accused him of rape, and two of her friends. Excuse me if this sounds harsh, but in my mind, they all deserved to die.”

Again, if you’re offended and not yet beating sense into your own head, HE DIDN’T MEAN IT. It’s gallows humour an expression of the true horror of something and how absurd it is that anyone should suffer that way by turning it around. It’s a way to blow off steam in a shitty world where people can’t take a fucking joke … or someone else’s gender issues.

Of course, this kind of thing has gotten MacDonald fired from just about every job he’s had, either because of pissed off executives or puzzled audiences of meatheads who should’ve been watching Three’s Company reruns (his latest gig as host of High Stakes Poker on the Gameshow Network was cancelled yesterday, and his Comedy Central gig Sports Show was cancelled on Wednesday.)

But that’s a great thing about digital: these days, video last forever. So while A Minute With Stan Hooper may have bit the big one faster than its title, and while he only made that one, classic, Dawson’s Creek-drenched appearance on Family Guy, Norm MacDonald’s work will live on long after they’ve stopped paying him for it.

Which, in entertainment terms, makes him unabashedly Canadian.