You know Norm MacDonald as the hilarious/maligned 1990s mouthpiece of Saturday Night Live's long-running "Weekend Update" segment. But did you know he's also a huge sports fan? Now, Norm will combine his deadpan delivery and sports knowledge for a new Comedy Central series, Sports Show with Norm MacDonald, debuting tonight at 10:30pm. Norm called us up just hours before the premiere to talk about the show, live television, and tweeting with basketball pros.
TV.com: What qualifies you to talk about sports?
I know a lot about sports. [pauses] A lot about traditional sports—I don't know the new sports so well. But I'm learning them.
What are some of these "new" sports?
You know, like... maybe they're not new, but they're new to an old chunk of coal like me. Stuff like where a guy will go up on a motorcycle and flip around or something. Then another guy does it, then they go, "Hey, that guy was better." Then it says 8.6, and you're supposed to know what that means. I like where you can follow along and you know what's going on as it happens. I like the traditional sports. I like MMA too.
Did you tune into the Masters this weekend?
Yes I did, I loved it. It was almost perfect. The first couple days belonged to Freddy Couples, the fourth day on the front nine it was all about Tiger Woods. I thought Tiger would win, and if Tiger didn't win, it would be one of the big names, because Westwood was in it and Rory was in it. Anyway, in the end, [draws out the pronunciation] Charl Schwartzel won. Everybody was pretty depressed about that.
Comedy Central let me watch the not-for-air pilot of Sports Show, and one of my favorite segments involved your "nephew" Kyle doing man-on-the-street interviews at an MMA event. Is he going to be a mainstay on the program?
He's great. We're going to do a few of those. He's in San Francisco right now talking to [San Francisco Giants] Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson. I'll talk to him tonight and see what he got.
You're from Canada. Are you going to be covering a lot of hockey?
Well I hope to, ha ha. It'll be me against the American public. But yeah, I'll do my best to jam it down their throats.
How current will the show be?
We film on Monday night and put it on Tuesday, so we'll be that recent. Hopefully, we'll go live, that's what I'm trying to push for. I just do it all in one take, so we get that live feeling. I make mistakes and stuff, I don't want to redo shots.
You recently started tweeting. How's that going for you?
It's alright. I thought it was stupid at first, now I like even the most mundane tweets. I'll follow a basketball player, and he'll be like, "I feel like a hamburger." And then 25 minutes later he's like, "I'm eating me a hamburger!" It's hilarious. I like it 'cause you can say anything, you know? I never do drugs or alcohol so I'm not going to say something to mess up my career.
You're one of the best talk-show guests out there. Why do you think you excel in that format?
Everyone just lets me talk now. They used to do pre-interviews, now I just talk. That's where I feel the most relaxed. Especially with Jon [Stewart], I've known him since we were doing standup. And Conan [O'Brien] I've known for a long time. Everybody, except for [David] Letterman. He's like my dad still, because when I grew up he was the guy. Him I get a little nervous with, everybody else I'm more relaxed.
So you're a big fan of winging it.
Absolutely. I don't like movies, because you're all alone and a guy puts a camera in your face and tells you what emotions to do or something. Which is great for an actor. Especially with comedies, you go, "Geez I don't think it's funny." The director's like, "No, no, don't worry about it." And I'm like, "Really?" If you're in front of a crowd you find out instantly if it's funny. With a movie you have to wait a year and a half and then they say, "That wasn't funny." And you're like, "I didn't think it was. It was that guy with the camera." 'Cause they never blame that guy, you know? [When they review] a movie they never say, "That was cinematographer Wolfgang Bauer's fault."
Got any parting words for our readers?
Don't do crack.
Sports Show with Norm MacDonald premieres tonight at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.