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3 Lessons Podcasters Can Learn From Norm MacDonald's Life
Episode 3515th September 2021 • Podcast Pontifications • Evo Terra
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Evo Terra:

What's great about podcasting is that not everyone

Evo Terra:

needs to get you or your podcast.

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That was one of the great things about Norm MacDonald as well.

Evo Terra:

A comedian from whom podcasters can learn a thing or.

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Evo Terra:

Hello, and welcome to another Podcast Pontifications with me, Evo Terra.

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I'm not one to lament the death of public figures.

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It's not that I'm a callous person, it's just that, well, you know,

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death happens, and at least when a public figure dies, we can always

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refer back to their body of work.

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So I spent a lot of time yesterday rewatching clips of Norm MacDonald,

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who passed away yesterday at 61 years young, September 14th, 2021.

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Now, you may not have found Norm MacDonald all that funny.

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Heck, you might not even know who Norm MacDonald was.

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And both of those things are fine and quite in line with who Norm really was.

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It's been said that when people want to laugh, they go watch a comedian.

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But when comedians want to laugh, they go watch Norm MacDonald.

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Today's episode is not to try and convince you what a brilliant comic that Norm

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MacDonald was, even though he was one of the greatest comedians of our generation.

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No, I'm just here talking about the fact that Norm was a comedian's comedian.

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It's interesting, and I think there's a good chance that you might want to be

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known as a podcaster's podcaster, right?

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So with that, here are three things I think that podcasters can learn

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from the life of Norm MacDonald.

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Number one, know what you're really good at.

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Hearkening back to Tom Webster from Edison Research and the advice he

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gave, that as a podcaster, you need to know who you are and who you

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are for and why they are there.

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Yes, subtle twist on that in Norm's world.

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This is about knowing who you are and who you are for, and for sure,

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yeah, why they are there too.

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It really matters.

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You see, Norm was really good at a lot of aspects of comedy,

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but certainly not all of them.

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He didn't enjoy doing all of the aspects of comedy.

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He was a master, however, at the fundamentals, which is why he did

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a lot of comedy writing and why he took the idea of timing to an absurd

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level, and how good he was at it.

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Now, as a podcaster, you know there are a lot of moving parts when

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it comes to podcasting, not just sitting behind the microphone or

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asking questions or editing audio.

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And you know that you don't have to be great at every one of them.

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You don't have to enjoy every single aspect of podcasting, and you can

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definitely specialize in certain areas.

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But one of the things you have to be really good at is the fundamentals and the

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mechanics of what makes podcasting work.

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Just like Norm understood the fundamentals and the mechanics

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of what makes comedy work.

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Surround yourself with others who are really good at the art

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of, in our case, podcasting.

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I don't assume to know much of anything about Norm's private life, but I do

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know that in his professional life, he traveled in an elite circle of comedic.

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Maybe it's the fact that comedians are just inherently more social,

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particularly stand-up comedians who contrast greatly with the often

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solitary toiling of us podcasters.

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Still, we podcasters have lots of opportunities to be social, and we

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can, to a large degree, pick and choose which other podcasters we

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want to spend our time with, which podcasters we want to collaborate with.

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Not necessarily clones of what we do.

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Norm palled around with comedians who were wildly different from his

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comedic style, and the people he palled around with weren't always

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the most popular, most relevant by today's standards of comedians.

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Hey, look, styles change.

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What people want from a comedian on stage or in a movie change from time to time.

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However, the mechanics and the fundamentals stay the same.

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So who do you admire and respect in podcasting?

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Who feels the same way about podcasting that you feel about podcasting?

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Are you connected?

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Number three, don't try to please the audience.

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It sounds weird for me to say that, but throughout his entire career, Norm tried

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lots of different things in comedy, and many of them for most people didn't work.

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I'd say that of the people I know in my life, less than 25% would

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list Norm MacDonald as one of their favorite comedians, and probably less

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than half overall think he's funny.

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But he was funny.

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Not to everyone.

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Few comedians are actually trying to be funny to everyone, but

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Norm took that to an extreme.

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This guy would happily tell a joke during a roast, which he was great at,

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that maybe one or two people in the audience would get and think was funny.

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So going back to the quote that Tom Webster gave, and this

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time I'll unbastardize it and say it the way Tom said it.

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Norm knew who he was for and why they were there.

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But he also knew that wherever he was performing or applying his craft,

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people who were like who he is for would be somewhere in the audience.

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Maybe only one or two of them, maybe a whole lot of them.

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But those were the people Norm was performing for, not everyone,

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not the audience at the moment.

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He was just talking to people who appreciated his style because they

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were always out there somewhere in the audience, and you know what?

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They'll always be out there.

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So thank you very much for the memories, Norm MacDonald.

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If you got value out of this episode today, please consider passing

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some of that value back to me.

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You can do that a few different ways.

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One is BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra.

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Or you can go to podcastpontifications.com/sponsor,

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but you know what I'm going to do.

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I'm going to go make the support link value in case somebody

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actually tries to do it because that's the kind of power I have.

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All right.

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That's it.

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I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.

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Cheers!

Evo Terra:

Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra.

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He's on a mission to make podcasting better.

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Links to everything mentioned in today's episode are in the notes

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section of your podcast listening app.

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A written-to-be-read article based on today's episode is available at

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podcastpontifications.com where you'll also find a video version and a corrected

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transcript, both created by Allie Press.

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Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.