Norm Macdonald remembers the late Burt Reynolds as a great storyteller


TORONTO — Canadian comic Norm Macdonald remembers the late Burt Reynolds as a great storyteller and “hilarious” entertainer.

Well before Macdonald impersonated the movie star on “Saturday Night Live,” Macdonald says he revelled as a fan in the Hollywood tales the mustachioed movie star spun as a guest on the “Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.”

When Macdonald scored a job as a writer on “Roseanne” in the early ’90s, he would pop over to the set of Reynolds’ network sitcom “Evening Shade.”

“He was on the same sound stage so I’d go and see his show every week because he’d talk to the audience before the show,” Macdonald recalled in a phone interview Friday.

“And he was just hysterically funny, he was so good. Then I saw him in Las Vegas where he did a one-man show — he was like a stand up comedian, just a brilliant storyteller.”

Reynolds would later inspire one of Macdonald’s most beloved impressions during his stint on “Saturday Night Live” — as a recurring, infuriating contestant on “Celebrity Jeopardy” who insisted he be referred to as “Turd Ferguson.”

Macdonald says they almost appeared together on the show, but Macdonald notes he was fired in 1998 before that could happen.

“He phoned me one time and he wanted to come on the show while I was doing ‘Celebrity Jeopardy’ as him, he wanted to show up … dressed as the old Burt, you know,” recalls Macdonald.

“And then he wanted to punch me in the face and then he wanted to replace me and then he was going to be more stupid than me. So I was so excited for that, I couldn’t believe I was talking to him. I was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll definitely do that!’ And then I got fired from the show.”

They crossed paths again when Macdonald’s pal Adam Sandler tackled a remake of Reynolds’ 1974 sports comedy “The Longest Yard,” and cast the legend in a cameo for the 2005 version.

“I hung out with him in his trailer for a couple of days and he would tell me all these hilarious stories. He was a super funny guy. That’s all I knew him from. I loved his stupid movies, you know, I don’t like the serious movies he does. I like that he used to do movies with his friends.”

Reynolds died Sept. 6 at age 82.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press