Norm Macdonald on Wednesday dropped by Howard Stern to discuss his new Netflix talk show, but also the firestorm he was caught up in after his comments about the #MeToo movement and his pals, Louis C.K. and Roseanne Barr.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Saturday Night Live veteran addressed his feelings on the recent wave of victims coming forward who have said they suffered sexual abuse at the hands of powerful Hollywood men. While on the topic, he also talked about Barr and C.K., who lost their TV series for racist remarks and sexual assault allegations, respectively.
Macdonald told Stern his comments on the matter had been misconstrued.
“I never defended them,” said Macdonald. “I am completely behind the #MeToo movement.”
He continued, “You’d have to have Down syndrome to not feel sorry for — #MeToo is what you want for your daughters, and you want that to be the future world, of course. And I meet all kinds of women with terrible stories of what’s happened to them. So, I wasn’t talking about the victims. They asked me about Roseanne.”
That comment sparked even more controversy.
The Arc, an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, blasted Macdonald for his “ignorance.”
“It is disheartening that yet again we need to remind a public figure to show respect for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” read a statement from The Arc. “What is particularly disturbing about Norm Macdonald’s comment is that in his attempt to explain away his insensitivity to the #MeToo movement, he chose to mock a group of people who have a much greater understanding of victimization than he does. Mr. Macdonald’s comment is doubly offensive and shows his ignorance about the disability community.”
Macdonald, when talking to Stern, said he put Barr in touch with C.K. because he felt perhaps the disgraced comic could give her more support having been through “this particular, very peculiar event where you say something or do something and your career is wiped out forever.”
Hours after his remarks spread across the internet, generating backlash, Macdonald issued an apology on Twitter, which he did talk to Netflix about, he said.
“[Chief content officer] Ted Sarandos was the greatest,” he said. “He is one of the greatest people to ever come into my life. He knows I am a good person. Ted said, ‘We don’t want to hear legalese. Write your own thing.'”
So, Macdonald tweeted, “Roseanne and Louis have both been very good friends of mine for many years. They both made terrible mistakes and I would never defend their actions. If my words sounded like I was minimizing the pain that their victims feel to this day, I am deeply sorry.”
But, that apology was not enough to keep him on the schedule for NBC’s The Tonight Show, for which he was getting hair and makeup done when host Jimmy Fallon personally broke the news to him.
“Jimmy comes to me … and he was like, ‘How should we play this?’ I said, ‘I think we should say it at the end because if you say it at the beginning, you can’t come back from that,'” Macdonald told Stern. “And he said, ‘What am I supposed to ask?’ And I said, “Jimmy, I don’t exactly know.’ So he leaves. Then someone suggested I start the show with an apology, and I go, ‘It’s not my show.’ And Jimmy came back in and said, ‘Can I talk to you, buddy?’ He was very broken up about it. And he said, ‘I don’t know what to do. And I said, ‘Should I not do the show?’ And he said. ‘I don’t know. It’s just that I have so much pressure from so many people.’ He goes, ‘People are crying.’ And I say, ‘People are crying?!’ And he said, ‘Yeah. Senior producers are crying.’ And I said, ‘Good lord! Bring them in and let me talk to them. I don’t want to make people cry.’ So Jimmy said, ‘Come back whenever you want, but I think it will hurt the show tonight. And I said, ‘Jimmy, I don’t want to hurt your show. That is the last thing I want to do.'”
When asked if he had any other TV appearances canceled due to his comments, Macdonald replied, “They haven’t said anything yet.”
Asked about the entire experience, Macdonald said, “I don’t like talking about politics, I find it boring. Everywhere I go, every conversation comes back to Trump and these issues and I’m like, ‘God damn, I just want to talk about how I have to wait three years to see Game of Thrones.’ I wish I never had to do an interview, especially a print interview, because they edit it and put it together and ask you questions that maybe you don’t want to answer. And they put things together that you’re saying — and I’m a fucking dumb guy. I get confused.”
Sept. 12, 7:20 p.m. Updated with comments from The Arc.