The Late Show with David Letterman
MARCH 6, 1998 (CBS)

Getting Fired

INTRODUCTION: For five years, our first guest, was the star of "Weekend Update" on "Saturday Night Live." And then he got fired. [Laughter.] Which makes absolutely no sense to any of us here. He now stars in a brand new film titled "Dirty Work" -- it opens in May. Here he is, one of our favorites, Norm Macdonald. [Applause. Music.]

DAVE: You look good, Norm. The crowd goes crazy. Thank you very much for being here.

NORM: Thanks, man.

DAVE: Welcome to the show.

NORM: Thanks for having me.

DAVE: You know, Norm. The last time you were here it was a traumatic, difficult situation because I believe it was like the day after you'd been released -- kinda undone, let go, something like that -- fired.

NORM: Yeah, it was, it was that very day.

DAVE: Oh, that very day. Yeah. Yeah. [Laughter.] Well, how has it been since then?

NORM: Oh, it's been weird, you know. Like, uh, it's been weird, because --

DAVE: You were just fired as it turned out, right?

NORM: Yeah, they fired -- Yeah, I got fired. [Laughter.] And when I was talking to you on the show that day -- because this guy Don Ohlmeyer fired me -- and I didn't know the guy, you know. You kept saying, "Well, he's an idiot. He's a pinhead." You know, and stuff like that. And I would say like, "He's a good guy," you know. And, uh, it turns out you were right. [Laughter.]

DAVE: Oh, man! Good! Good for you!

NORM: I'll admit when I'm wrong. [Laughter.]

DAVE: I've never been happier to be right about something in my life.

NORM: So, because, I went and met with him, you know. I never --

DAVE: Now wait a minute. After, after you get fired, you then have to go to a meeting with the guy?

NORM: Yeah, because I wanted to leave the show entirely, you know. I thought that would be the next thing.

DAVE: Right.

NORM: Then I talked to all these guys I pay money to, you know. And I go, "Hey, how about you guys figure out something there." [Laughter.] And they're like, "Well, we were talking to this one guy that said that he maybe could do" -- and it took forever so I said, "How about I go talk to the dude that fired me?"

DAVE: Face-to-face. Mano-a-mano. Which shows great courage. Great class. Grace. I believe. On your part.

NORM: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm a courageous, classy dude. [Laughter.] So, I have to go to his office there. He lives in Hollywood, California. And, uh --

DAVE: He's a big shot, this guy, Don Ohlmeyer. One of these guys who comes to work very early and spends most of the day selecting monograms. [Laughter.] That's what he does.

NORM: Yeah. So his office is, uh -- I went to his office -- and, uh, it's this big office, you know. [Laughter.] I'm not used to these things. I'm just a guy used to smokey night clubs.

DAVE: You're a hard working guy.

NORM: Yeah. [Laughter.] So, uh, I go in there and that guy Don Ohlmeyer is there and I go, "How ya doing." You know, and we talk.

DAVE: How was that? Was it cordial? Was it a bit icy?

NORM: No. It was cordial. He gave me a lighter. [Laughter.]

DAVE: For like a parting gift?

NORM: I don't know. He had a lighter and he goes, "Hey! Want a lighter?" [Laughter.] And, then, he gave me an umbrella. [Laughter.] I don't know.

DAVE: You get fired, and you get stuff? "Yeah, how about a clock radio? How about a lighter?"

NORM: Anything on the top shelf, I could have. [Laughter.] So, uh, I just said to the guy, "Listen, man. I appreciate you don't think I'm funny --

DAVE: Now, that was the issue. That seemed to be the turning point. Don Ohlmeyer didn't think you were funny.

NORM: Exactly.

DAVE: Now, in your assessment of him in this meeting, is he a funny guy?

NORM: Well, it's not his job. His job is picking up them monograms. [Laughter.]

DAVE: Yeah. He's one of these guys that fancys himself creative. Doesn't he?

NORM: Yeah, well, I suppose, yeah --

DAVE: You know, I worked for Don Ohlmeyer when I was at NBC for years and years and years. I know the guy. And here's a guy who could not create gas after a bean dinner. [Laughter.]

NORM: That's not true. I witnessed that. [Laughter.] No, no. The thing was, I said, "OK. So you think I'm not funny. That's fine, you know. Who cares?" But I said, "Why don't we just -- I'll quit, leave the show. Right? You keep your money. Because you don't want to pay money to a guy who's not funny. And then I'll go and try to be funny somewhere else."

DAVE: Perfect point.

NORM: And then he didn't like that idea.

DAVE: Why not?

NORM: I don't know! Because it seems to me -- because there's other networks, there's CBS --

DAVE: Well, other networks, sure. [Laughter.]

NORM: So, my contention was I thought he would love that idea because what better for his network than to have an unfunny guy on another network.

DAVE: Exactly! That's right. He can't have it both ways.

NORM: He CAN have it both ways, apparently. He's a Quizling?

DAVE: Yes! [Laughter.] [Pause.] No. No. No. [Laughter.] But at least there are no Quizlings in the picture now. When you were here before I smelled a Quizling. The Quizlings are gone.

NORM: They're gone. They're gone.

DAVE: Good for you.

NORM: So the way it stands now is: I can leave the show. As long as I don't do anything else on any competing show.

DAVE: Right. Well, that stinks. How long will that last?

NORM: I don't know.

DAVE: Contractually, how long are you bound to them?

NORM: Um, I'm bound to them contractually -- It's all, uh, you know, stuff I'm not that familiar with. [Laughter.]

DAVE: But in the meantime, they're continuing to pay you, right?

NORM: Yeah, they pay me, and I go to the show and hang out. [Laughter.]

DAVE: Now what is that like? Being around your old friends on the show do they like having you there now, or not?

NORM: Well, everybody's kinda uncom -- nobody wants -- everybody's uncomfortable. And, uh, they'd be glad to see me go. And, I'd be glad to see them see me go. It's just this Don Ohlmeyer character. You know? I don't know.

DAVE: Yeah. You know what you should do, though. Now, you should come to CBS and get a show right here. You should come to CBS and make Pretty Boy, make Mr. Cufflinks, make Don Ohlmeyer eat his shorts. [Applause.] I want to find out, Norm, how your family and friends are taking this. We'll do that. We have to pause. We'll return visiting with Norm Macdonald, ladies and gentlemen. [Music to break.]

Old Harold Delaney

DAVE: Well, I would guess that one of the good things about this, you've had some time off. You've taken some vacation, have you gone anywhere, traveled?

NORM: Yeah, I wanted to get away from all crazy showbiz. So, I decided I'd go on a vacation. And I don't like going to hotels because of all the years doing my nightclub act. So, my buddy tells me, "Hey, you should go to one of them bed and breakfasts."

DAVE: Sure.

NORM: The idea is, you go there, and it's a guy's house, and you live in his room, and then he makes you some breakfast.

DAVE: Yeah, that's it, sure.

NORM: I looked one up on the Internet, there. I found one in Vancouver Island, Victoria. Which is beautiful, it's God's country. And I look up my place where I'm supposed to go -- I have it on a little piece of paper -- and I knock on the door. And there's no answer. And I knock again, and there's still no answer. And so I look in the window, and there's an old man sleeping on the couch.

DAVE: Yeah.

NORM: So I bang on the door, ringing the doorbell, so finally I hear, "Hey, keep your pants on," from the inside. And he comes to the door -- old guy, I'd say around 80, 85 years old -- old Harold Delaney. Old Harold Delaney was his name.

DAVE: Harold Delaney.

NORM: Yeah, nice enough gentleman, you know. So, I got in there, and I say, "Well, I better go to sleep." There was no one else there. I thought it would be a whole bunch of people in different rooms, and it was just me. So I go up, and I go to sleep. A knock comes on the door, right? A knock on my bedroom door.

DAVE: Uh huh, yeah.

NORM: So I figure, uh oh, old Harold Delaney wants to have sex with me.

DAVE: That's the first thought that went through your mind!?

NORM: Well, I'm a young fellow.

DAVE: Not a bad looking guy, sure.

NORM: These days anything goes.

DAVE: Traveling alone, why not?

NORM: Sure, and of course I didn't come to Victoria to have sex with old Harold Delaney. I came to do some sightseeing. Then I hear him, he says, "You want to play some Scrabble?" Yeah, so I say, "OK, that's good, I'll play some Scrabble." So, I go down and he pulls out this old Scrabble game, and we start to play. I like Scrabble. I get the first turn -- because I picked the lower letter -- and so I get the first turn, so I make "rabbit."

DAVE: Pretty good.

NORM: It's a good word. I do it pretty quick. I take like a couple minutes. Then old Harold Delaney, he takes like a half hour to get his word. The whole time, he's not talking, he's not telling me old stories, because I like hearing old stories. Instead, for like a half hour, it was just Harold Delaney going [Funny face.]. After a half an hour of that, I'm just sitting there, he comes up with this word: "hat."

DAVE: That's his word.

NORM: That's his word, yeah. So he puts it, he takes the word "hat" and puts it like way in the corner on that triple letter score, the triple word, the red one, that you want to get to. But you can't just put it there.

DAVE: No, no, you have to have some relation to "rabbit."

NORM: Yeah, you've got to move up there, ya know, and finally get to there. But instead, he just puts it right there. So I go, alright. There's my turn, you know, I do something, quickly, and then again, the same thing [Funny face.] And time is going by, and I was coming up with good words. I had "sleigh," like a sleigh ride, and avocado.

DAVE: Whoa.

NORM: It was a seven-letter word, you get fifty extra points. I'm still way behind him.

DAVE: He's just freelancing the board.

NORM: Yeah, and so finally I decided, I've got to say something, ya know?

DAVE: Sure.

NORM: And all of his words were like "cup" and "hat." I think it was just things he had seen around the room. I'm playing excellently. I should be in the lead, but instead I'm like a thousand points behind. And finally, I've got to say something. So he puts, uh, "boot" up on this triple. And it really annoyed me because I was building towards it. And he just puts "boot," and I said, I've got to say something here, and I go, "Hey, old Harold Delaney there, I don't know. You can't put 'bootí' there." And then he goes, "You never heard tell of a boot?" So I go, "No, no, I know what a boot is, Iím just saying -- " And he says, "If a fellow goes out, he's got to wear a boot." So I go, "No, I know what a -- I made 'avocado' -- I know a boot." And it just took him forever. I think, also I noticed a weird thing: there were no blanks. It's always good, you can use any letter.

DAVE: Yeah, sure.

NORM: I realize there's no blanks in this game, and I figured, old Harold Delaney must have -- when he got the game -- figured, "What the hell is that?" and threw them away.

DAVE: How was the breakfast? Did you have the breakfast?

NORM: There was no breakfast! I got up the next day, I was so hungry from playing Scrabble all night, so I say, "Hey, Harold, how are you doing there? How about some breakfast?" And he says, "I've never been much for breakfast." So I go, uh, "Alright, so I guess I'll go down the McDonald's and pick up some breakfast, or something, Harold." And he goes, "Could you get me an Egg McMuffin?" He's crazy.

DAVE: Norm, you've got a movie coming out here, Dirty Work opening May 15. So, things are looking good for you.

NORM: Yeah, yeah, it's going to be a good movie.

DAVE: Good for you, you're landing on your feet, buddy. That's what I like to see. Nice to have --

NORM: Yeah, unless the movie stinks.

DAVE: No, the movie will be fine. Norm Macdonald, ladies and gentlemen! Nice job, very funny.

Thank you "Another Bad David Letterman Web Page" for transcribing the second segment.