SNL's Lorne Michaels And John Oliver Pay Tribute To Norm Macdonald With Emmy Speeches

2021 emmys screenshot john oliver lorne michaels acceptance speech john oliver

Comedy legend Norm Macdonald passed away on September 14 after a long battle with cancer, just days before the 2021 Emmy Awards. His presence still loomed large in the room thanks to the acceptance speeches of some of the winners, with Saturday Night Live creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels and Last Week Tonight's John Oliver both specifically taking time out to mention Macdonald.

John Oliver was the first of the two to have the chance to honor Norm Macdonald on the Emmy stage after his passing, and he actually was on the stage twice in a row. Last Week Tonight initially won the trophy for Writing For A Variety Series, but Oliver stepped back and let his coworkers do the talking and thanking for that category. When he took the stage again moments later, it was to collect the Emmy for Variety Talk Series, and he seized the chance then to mention Macdonald. Take a look at the full announcement and speech:

John Oliver saved the tribute to Norm Macdonald for the end of the speech to pack a real emotional punch, noting that "nobody was funnier in the last twenty years than Norm Macdonald on late night comedy," so it really was an ideal category for Macdonald to get a mention. He also recommended that viewers follow his example and hit up YouTube to watch clips of Macdonald, because it doesn't get any better than that.

And it's only fitting that it was only minutes later that Saturday Night Live got the spotlight at the Emmys. SNL is how many people have experienced Norm Macdonald's comedy, and certainly his daring Weekend Update segments are a good way to start a YouTube binge-watch of Macdonald highlights. While Macdonald was actually fired from SNL for sticking to his guns about making a certain kind of jokes, his legacy as a Saturday Night Live player isn't fading away anytime soon.

Lorne Michaels took the Emmy stage with some current SNL stars, including nominees Kenan Thompson and Aidy Bryant, and also saved the Norm Macdonald mention for last. Take a look:

It's hard to imagine higher public praise from Lorne Michaels for Norm Macdonald than referring to Macdonald as "one of the best we ever had" after reminding everybody that Weekend Update has been part of SNL for 46 seasons. It was a somber moment, but there was no delay in applause breaking out as soon as Michaels finished his tribute to Macdonald. There were clearly a lot of Norm Macdonald fans in the room at the 2021 Emmys, and it was nice to see that he received the accolades that he so deserved after his passing.

Plenty of other big names in the comedy sphere have also shared their own messages in honor of Norm Macdonald over the days since his death, ranging from movie stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen to late night stars like Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon. Even Bob Saget recently shared the story behind Macdonald bombing at a Comedy Central roast, and anybody familiar with Macdonald's comedy knows that him bombing is still funnier than just about anybody else. Kudos to John Oliver and Lorne Michaels for using the Emmy stage to honor him once more.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).