Based on a True Story : A Memoir
by Norm MacDonald and Norm MacDonald and Tim O'Halloran

Overview - NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "Driving, wild and hilarious" ( The Washington Post ), here is the incredible "memoir" of the actor, gambler, raconteur, and Saturday Night Live veteran.
Don't miss Norm's new Netflix special, Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Treachery !


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More About Based on a True Story by Norm MacDonald; Norm MacDonald; Tim O'Halloran

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • "Driving, wild and hilarious" (The Washington Post), here is the incredible "memoir" of the actor, gambler, raconteur, and Saturday Night Live veteran.
Don't miss Norm's new Netflix special, Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Treachery!
When Norm Macdonald, one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time, was approached to write a celebrity memoir, he flatly refused, calling the genre "one step below instruction manuals." Norm then promptly took a two-year hiatus from stand-up comedy to live on a farm in northern Canada. When he emerged he had under his arm a manuscript, a genre-smashing book about comedy, tragedy, love, loss, war, and redemption. When asked if this was the celebrity memoir, Norm replied, "Call it anything you damn like."
Praise for Based on a True Story

"Dostoyevsky by way of 30 Rockefeller Center . . . the best new book I've read this year or last."The Wall Street Journal
"This book is absurd fiction. . . . Scathing and funny."The New York Times
"Hilarious and filled with turns of phrase and hidden beauty like only a collection of Norm Macdonald stories could be."Esquire
"Raucous . . . a hilarious, innovative work."A.V. Club
"Part personal history and part meta riff on celebrity memoirs, the book, it quickly becomes clear, is also just partly true (and all hilarious)."Vulture
"Very, very, very funny! Thanks, Norm, for letting me be part of this Booker Prize–for–literature–quality effort."—David Letterman
"Norm is brilliant and thoughtful and there is sensitivity and creative insight in his observations and stories. A lot of comics over the years have been compared to Mark Twain, but I think Norm is the only one who actually matches the guy in terms of his voice and ability. I seriously f**king love Norm Macdonald. Please buy his book. He probably needs the cash. He's really bad with money."—Louis C.K., from the foreword
"Norm is one of my all-time favorites, and this book was such a great read I forgot how lonely I was for a while."—Amy Schumer
"I always thought Normie's stand-up was the funniest thing there was. But this book gives it a run for its money."—Adam Sandler
"Norm is one of the greatest stand-up comics who's ever worked—a totally original voice. His sense of the ridiculous and his use of juxtaposition in his writing make him a comic's comic. We all love Norm."—Roseanne Barr

"Norm Macdonald makes me laugh my ass off. Who is funnier than Norm Macdonald? Nobody."—Judd Apatow
"Norm Macdonald is more than a triple threat—he's a septuple threat. He is smart, funny, wry, rakish, polite, rakish . . . no, wait. He is polite, insightful, and . . . aaaaah . . . warm. No. He's exciting. Yeah. Exciting! You never know what he'll do. Okay, then make that unpredictable. Add that up. He's amazing."—Alec Baldwin
"Norm is a double threat. His material and timing are both top-notch, which is unheard of. He is one of my favorites, both on- and off-stage."—Dave Attell
"Letterman said it best: There is no one funnier than Norm Macdonald."—Rob Schneider

  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
  • Date: Sept 2016

From the cover

The Job Interview

"Lorne will see you now."

He was always Lorne, never Mr. Michaels. He was smart that way. I took a seat across the desk from him, and there was a container of pencils that had been sharpened that very day and a bowl of fresh popcorn and plenty of Coca-­Cola.

"Swell office you got here, Lorne."

"Thank you, Norm. I understand you're from Canada?"

"Yes, sir," I said, and I knew that even though we hailed from the same nation, we were worlds apart. He was a cosmopolite from Toronto, worldly, the kinda guy who'd be comfortable around the Queen of England herself. Me, I was a hick, born to the barren, rocky soil of the Ottawa Valley, where the richest man in town was the barber. Lorne was a bigshot and I was a smallfry, and that's why I was planning on doing very little talking in this job interview.

First let me say that Lorne is often portrayed as an intimidating man, and he is. In some ways he can't help it. He is quietly confident, smart, funny, and he always carries a dagger. These four qualities combine to make for an intimidating man.

He had beautiful assistants that the writers had derisively nicknamed "the Lornettes." These girls secretly loved Lorne and also openly loved him. In another room, the writers sat around and did impressions of Lorne that didn't sound anything like him. This is the way it is with all bigshots and all smallfrys everywhere, and it's been like that since the get-go. The boss is always a big joke, just dumb and lucky, and nobody's afraid of him at all and everybody has a good laugh at him. Until he walks into the room, that is. It's a different story then.

Lorne began the interview by telling stories, and I just listened and nodded and laughed when I was supposed to, the same way I did in every job interview I'd ever had. But this guy was different. First thing I noticed was that he was funny, really genuinely funny, and that is very rare for a bigshot. Especially a bigshot in comedy.

He had all these firsthand stories he was telling me about back in the day when he worked on shows in Toronto and then in Hollywood. And he smiled when he told the stories, the kind of smile a man gets when memory transports him to another place and another time. He had worked on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and a few Lily Tomlin specials. And there were famous celebrities in his stories, and all the stories were funny. And pretty soon my pretend laugh was turning into an honest-­to-­God real laugh, and I was choking on popcorn and coughing Coca-­Cola.

We were having a grand old time until suddenly Lorne got down to business. "So, Norm, let me tell you how the audition process works. We go down to the studio and you show us two characters."

I hadn't expected this. I'd been told this meeting was a mere formality, that as long as I didn't insult Lorne outright, the job was mine.

I'd been misinformed.

"Well, you see, Lorne, the thing is this. I'm a nightclub comic. Jokes, crowd work, that kinda thing. But I'm a hard worker and I catch on really fast. Besides, I understand I've been vouched for." And I had been too. By Jim Downey, the head writer and second-­in-­command. By David Spade, the comic actor. Why, even by Adam Sandler himself!

"Yes, I've heard good things. But the thing is, you're a stand-up comedian. We are a variety show and I have to be sure you will be able to provide versatility. I don't want to waste your time or mine." I wasn't sure he cared about wasting my time, since I'd been left in his waiting room for four hours, waiting and waiting. And waiting.

"Tell me another story about Lily Tomlin,...

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