Speed Reads


Watch Norm Macdonald's beloved, infamous 'moth joke'

Comedian Norm Macdonald, who died on Tuesday at 61 after a private battle with cancer, was known for many things: his bizarre, deadpan tenure as Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update anchor, his career-damaging feud with NBC's Don Ohlmeyer, and his cult movie Dirty Work. But he was most revered as a pure comedian, an inimitable standup whose seemingly random constructions worked almost in spite of themselves.

The best example of this is undoubtedly "the moth joke," a Dostoyevskian tragedy about a troubled moth's visit to a podiatrist. It's an epic, four-minute-long mess that GQ once admiringly described as a "groaner" that "shouldn't work." But it did work, beautifully, on a Macdonald appearance on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien. When the punchline finally came, O'Brien, after a spell of relieved laughter, offered "congratulations to anyone who stuck it through to the end." See if you can make it to the absurdist kicker in the video below.