Conan O’Brien praises late Norm Macdonald for OJ Simpson jokes that got him fired from ‘SNL’

Conan O’Brien praises late Norm Macdonald for OJ Simpson jokes that got him fired from ‘SNL’

Conan O’Brien had some lavish praise for late comic Norm Macdonald following the news of OJ Simpson’s death — and why Macdonald was fired from “Saturday Night Live.”

O’Brien, 60 — who was promoting his Max series, “Conan O’Brien Must Go” — appeared on CNN with Jake Tapper in the hours after news broke on April 11 that Simpson died at the age of 76 from cancer.

When the conversation turned to Simpson, O’Brien wasted no time in remembering how Macdonald mercilessly ripped Simpson on “Saturday Night Live” in his “Weekend Update” segments after Simpson was arrested in the 1994 double-murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Conan O’Brien said Norm Macdonald did the most “brilliant” comedy about OJ Simpson when Macdonald hosted “SNL’s” “Weekend Update.” CNN

“It was a huge deal back then. Most notably, he’s passed on, but Norm Macdonald,” O’Brien said. “One of my best guests of all time and one of the great comedians of all time. He did the most brilliant comedy of anybody [about Simpson] during that period.”

In response, Tapper noted reports that claimed that Macdonald was canned from “SNL” because of his frequent Simpson jokes, which always said that Simpson was guilty.

“Well, it is finally official,” Macdonald said on “Weekend Update” after Simpson was acquitted. “Murder is legal in the state of California.”

Norm Macdonald was unrelenting in his withering “Weekend Update” takedowns of OJ Simpson after Simpson was arrested in the double-murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Macdonald was fired from “SNL” in 1997 allegedly after angering NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer, who was good friends with Simpson.

NBC’s West Coast division president at the time, Don Ohlmeyer, was good friends with Simpson and, allegedly, warned Macdonald to stop making jokes at Simpson’s expense, according to Variety.

Macdonald, who had been hosting “Weekend Update” since September 1994 — three months after Simpson’s arrest — was fired from “SNL” in December 1997.

“Yes, the head of the network at the time was tight with O.J.,” O’Brien said. “Anyway, water under the bridge!

“That was a huge moment in history in this country. It was a massive,” O’Brien said. “There have been times where we’ve needed to stop and reassess where we are in our racial history. What progress have we made and that was one of those moments and it was such a watershed moment. So he is gone now.”

Norm Macdonald and Darrell Hammond (as President Bill Clinton) on a “Weekend Update” segment in the mid-1990s. ©NBC/Courtesy Everett Collectio

Simpson was acquitted in the double-murder “Trial of the Century” in October 1995 but, in 1997, was found guilty of the murders in a civil trial.

Macdonald never stopped tweaking Simpson, even posting a tweet when Simpson joined Twitter (now X) in 2019, according to The Wrap.

“Hey, OJ, it’s Norm. Listen, be careful about the videos you put out there. I recognize the golf course behind your house I know that exact street and could easily print your address,” he wrote at the time.

“Of course I never would, but others would. Be careful, Juice.”

Macdonald passed away in September 2021 at the age of 61 nine years after being diagnosed with cancer.

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