I had the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with one of my all-time favorite comedians, Norm MacDonald, to preview his new Comedy Central series, “Sports Show with Norm MacDonald,” which debuts on Tuesday.
Since space is limited in the print edition of amNewYork, and all his great words of wisdom would otherwise be left on the proverbial cutting room floor, I figured I’d give you online amNewYork readers a special treat.
So here are the parts of the inteview I won’t have room for. Be sure to come back on Monday to read the feature. I need the hits!
Do you play any fantasy sports?
Oh yeah, it kind of wrecked football for me. I’m not doing baseball this year because you don’t know what you’re hoping for. You have the NFL package and you’re flipping to every game. And then at the end of the day, you don’t know who won the games so I don’t think I’ll do it next year. And I always f------ lose. I don’t know how to pick fast enough at the draft. My time’s running out, I’m like, “How the f--- do you do this?” And then, all of a sudden I got Gus Frerotte or something.
What was your team name?
The Vipers. There were 18 people and the top 12 make the playoffs. I was 18th.
Could you tell me some of your favorite players from each sport? We’ll start with football.
The NFL? Well, I don’t know, I mean, I like Brett Farve, and I shouldn’t say that, but Brett Farve is like, I don’t know, I just always liked him. And I love Peyton Manning. I love quarterbacks.
What about Eli Manning?
Yeah, I like Eli. I just like Peyton so much that I can never think of Eli. It seems like Peyton should have six rings to Eli’s one, you know? But yeah I like Eli. And I like Vick. I f------ love watching Vick. I can separate the dog fighting personally. But at the end of the season, it is kind of weird. That’s why I wish I didn’t know anything about their f------ personal lives, because I don’t really care about it.
I love Jason Kidd, that’s my favorite player. And [Dirk] Nowitzki. I like Dallas a lot. And Wade, I love Dwyane Wade. There are so many guys in basketball.
What did you think of the Carmelo Anthony trade?
I think that’s awesome. When I lived in New York, there was never a team. And I love Carmelo because I thought he was going to be the guy, as he came in the same year as LeBron. It’s good if you have a run with Carmelo and [Amar'e] Stoudemire, that would be really cool.
How about baseball?
My favorite player ever was Gary Carter. I like Derek Jeter, I think he’s like the coolest Yankee ever. I think he’s the greatest Yankee ever to live personally. Yeah, I really like him.
Do you have a particular affinity for any of the Canadian athletes in the American sports leagues?
I don’t have an affinity for them, no. Sometimes I wonder how they do it. It stuns me because when I was in Canada, all anybody would ever do is play hockey, so I see a baseball player, or I see Steve Nash, and I go, “How on Earth did these guys learn to play baseball when there’s only two months it’s warm?” I was stunned. But I do have resentment that there are so many Americans playing hockey. Because we only have one sport in our whole country, so I always think that it should be a hundred percent Canadian.
Who are your favorite hockey players?
I don’t like [Alexander] Ovechkin. I mean he’s great and everything, but I don’t know. I love [Sidney] Crosby. He’s the coolest, and Bobby Orr was the greatest that ever lived, clearly, in my own wrong opinion.
Safety’s a big issue in hockey right now, with all the recent head hits. What’s your take on that?
I think cutting out fighting is a mistake because, first off, people like fights and they don’t get hurt as much because they’re on skates. And the reason they fight is to protect themselves from that kind of stuff. Even spearing can bust a spleen — and headshots, you can die. So you’re really at risk in hockey because you’re moving so fast and the idea of an enforcer really makes sense. [Wayne] Gretzky never would have survived if it weren’t for [Mark] Messier. People need to be protected. And also, fighting is fun to watch. I think that when they really tighten up on fighting, that actually started these [injuries]. This is the first time that I ever saw these crazy headshots. I think it’s because they’re not allowed to blow off steam, just throw down the gloves man. Good old-fashioned donnybrook.
What does the NHL need to do to make hockey popular again?
Well, one thing they can do is f------ never go on strike again. It seems like they get a little bit of a foothold and oh, another strike. And it’s baffling to me, because obviously I love it so much because I’m from Canada and I think it’s the most cool, exciting sport.
What’s the strangest sport you watch?
I like the rodeo a lot. I didn’t think I liked it, and then I went there and, Oh my God, you think, “Oh the poor animals.” Jesus. Those f------ guys have no chance and then a f------ guy comes out and he’s a clown, like a rodeo clown, which I always thought was just a clown. They have to get the bull away from the guy because once the guy falls down, the bull's going to kill him. This clown goes, “Come after me” and the fricking bull runs after the clown. It’s super exciting live. I always thought Nascar was boring on TV and then I went there. Holy God, this is like so exiting. Seeing things live, like a lot of things don’t televise well. With hockey, I have to bring people to hockey games and tell them, because hockey doesn’t televise as well. But live, it’s awesome.