There’s something odd about the Norm Macdonald of 2017: he seems to have grown both older and younger. Rest assured that the Canadian comedian’s style of humour is as dry as it ever was. However, not only has it now been joined by all the perversity of a bad grandpa with a penchant to offend, each punchline is also adorned by the mischievous smile of a child who knows he’s said something that his parents would no doubt be appalled to hear. Old Norm has grown into a new Norm of sorts, but his trademark cynicism is what brought him to the dance and it’s in full effect on Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery.
Netflix has rated this special TV-MA for a reason, but some of the topics broached by Macdonald that we can mention include American founding fathers, party sandwiches, decadent desserts, and the unconditional love of a pet dog. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that we shouldn’t get into here, and while some of the language and ideas might be outrageous, he keeps to fairly light musings about North American life. You won’t find the fiery social commentary of a Chris Rock, a Louis CK, or even the Norm Macdonald that you might remember from his run as lead anchor for Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, and that’s perfectly all right. While the delivery may be a bit loose and rough around the edges, the hour-long special is funny throughout, and while it isn’t exactly earth-shattering, I would still very much recommend it.
Part of the agony of being a fan of the uniquely deadpan Macdonald is that his creative output has tended to be somewhat sporadic since departing SNL. That began to change a few years ago with the debut of his critically lauded video podcast Norm Macdonald Live, the publishing of a memoir last year, and now Hitler’s Dog, Gossip & Trickery. Whether Macdonald is in the midst of a career upswing, I suppose time will tell, but it’s safe to assume that whatever he does next, he’ll be doing it his way, whether it’s fit to print here or not.
By Sean Madigan