Me: "I'm going to see Norm Macdonald this weekend!"

Everyone I Know: "Norm Mac... From SNL? Is he supposed to be funny?"

Norm Macdonald is at the Helium Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow—and yes, he is in fact funny, a fact he well demonstrated at last night's show. I wonder if other people who saw the show will agree with me, though: Macdonald's mumbled, halting delivery and strange pacing had half the audience convinced that he was waaaasted. ("Have another cocktail, Norm!" was a representative heckle.) He wasn't. I'll bet you $50. He's a professional standup comedian who makes a running gag out of his fundamental cluelessness—out of the fundamental cluelessness of everyone, in fact, and of how basically sad and futile it is for anyone to pretend they know what the fuck is happening at any given point. (Heavy, I know.)

The show's pacing was strange—there was no build, no sense that the crowd was being controlled in any real way, just great bits interspersed with unapologetically awkward pauses. He did do some of the best crowd work I've ever seen, in response to an audience that couldn't keep their damn mouths shut. When one guy interrupted the setup of a post-Halloween joke about things that scare us by shouting "clowns!" (fuck that heckler so much. Relevant Lindy West article), it prompted a pretty dazzling riff on the many things that are scarier than clowns—like choking to death on black bile in the middle of the night. And when someone shouted "Occupy Portland!" during one lengthy pause, Norm came back with "Good thing it's not called 'Occupy Poland,'" which is just... the best.

Some of his material will give some Portlanders trouble, I'm sure—he said "retarded" about 50 times, expressed a very un-Portland skepticism about the possibility of meaningful political and social change, and had a particularly scathing bit about the worthlessness of the WNBA—but if you are comfortable laughing at things you don't necessarily agree with (or if you believe life is essentially arbitrary and meaningless!), he's worth checking out.

Oh, and as always, here's the
relevant Marc Maron interview.
One of my all-time favorites.

Oh, and fair warning. Norm's feature performer was Kevin Farley, who opened with this joke:

What do you call a guy who likes musicals but isn't gay?

And then proceeded to do an impression of his dead brother Chris, do a bit about shopping at plus-sized men stores, and speak at surprising length about how much he does not want to have sex with another man. It was rough.

Tonight's shows are sold out, but there are tickets available for tomorrow nights two shows right over here.