Apr 13, 2011

Sports Show with Norm Macdonald Review: Premier episode

Comedy Central

Today is not a good day to cancel Sports Show with Norm Macdonald.

Coming in to fill the long suffering 10:30 eastern time slot (airing right before The Daily Show), Sports Show with Norm Macdonald joins/replaces Comedy Central's first foray into the world of sports news themed comedy Onion SportsDome, which is "on hiatus" while Comedy Central undoubtedly decides whether to kill it by axe or by fire. The network is essentially replacing a failed sports comedy show with a different sports comedy show. Given the history of the "spocom" (a term I am officially coining) being, well, nonexistent, this seems like a really stupid move.

The biggest problem with Sports Show is the star, "Canukomedian" (another term I'm officially coining) Norm MacDonald. Don't for a moment get the impression that I'm dogging Norm... he would have this same problem no matter what he did. You see, while I'm a huge fan and consider him to be one of the funniest comedians working today, there is a crowd of people who really just don't get him. I'll call these people "morons" (yet another term I'm officially coining). In fact, this group of people cost him the job most similar to his role as host of Sports Show... that of SNL Weekend Update anchor: NBC exec Don Ohlmeyer pressured SNL producers to cut Norm from Weekend Update because he was "not funny". Meanwhile, many people consider Norm to be the best WU host ever. Different strokes, I guess.

Sports Show should naturally cater to the sports crowd, which is a sizeable bunch... but narrow those viewers down to those that also understand Norm Macdonald's comedy and... I don't know if there are enough eyes to keep the show on the air.

All that being said, SS needs to step up to the plate and hit a grand slam walk-off home run on its first at-bat. It needs to throw a ninety yard hail-mary for a touchdown. It needs to <insert generic sports cliche here>. Bottom line, it needs to not only avoid sucking but actually be good in a way that SportsDome was not. So, does it? The answer is a resounding...


The first episode is hilarious. The opening headline-style monologue frequently required me to hit pause to get past my own laughter. Norm is brutal, just like he was in his Weekend Update days. Nearly every one of the jokes hit to some degree, which for me almost never happens. The only gag that didn't work as well was one that relied on a clip heavily featured on another Comedy Central show Tosh.0, but that was still pretty funny even if you'd seen the clip before. The "Norm goes undercover as an NBA star" skit after the first break was pretty funny and the shows close was just as good as its opening. I loved the show and if keeps it up, I'll be watching it as long as it's on the air.

Getting down to brass tacks: is Sports Show funnier than SportsDome? Absolutely. SD was hit-and-miss at best, SS is much more consistent. If you like Norm Macdonald, you'll love Sports Show, sports fan or not. If you don't find Norm funny at all, then you'll hate it. Comedy Central has ordered 8 episodes... I guess we'll see which side wins.

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