Plot: Norm MacDonald’s Netflix talk show takes a scaled down, intimate approach to interviews and while there is a format of sorts, the episodes have a fluid texture that varies from guest to guest. MacDonald’s offbeat sense of humor permeates the entire show of course, while lame duck sidekick Adam Eget is around as a whipping boy and adds little to the episodes. This first season has ten episodes, each one with a single guest interviewed and the format is wide open, save a scripted joke session toward the end and a brief sing-a-long to close out each show. A simple premise, but it delivers a unique, always interesting talk show experience.
Entertainment Value: I have to think how well the show is received depends on your personal taste for Norm MacDonald, as he is an active host and his signature sense of humor is all over the interviews. So if you appreciate his brand of comedy, you should love these episodes, but thanks to the often odd banter with guests, even those who don’t like his style might find some entertainment here. This is because each guest brings their own talents to the table and the back & forth varies so much, so sometimes MacDonald is more laid back than others. But while some guests take a little more control than others, you can tell each one has a great time engaging with MacDonald, so it helps if you’re a fan of his style. The shows run just under half an hour and there’s no filler, so the time goes by fast and leaves you wanting more. I do wish some episodes were longer, but I suppose that is a compliment to the show’s design and it is better to be brisk than pack the episodes with filler.
The series has some impressive guests as well, with David Spade in the debut episode and Saturday Night Live kingpin Lorne Michaels as the season finale. I think I was most taken with the David Letterman episode, as the interview had such great energy and he played off MacDonald so well. The banter was immense fun and some hilarious exchanges went down, so that episode is a highlight to be sure, though each guest had their memorable moments. Chevy Chase’s turn on the show produced some great lines and his dismissals of Adam Eget were fantastic, with Chase as one of the few guests that made Eget somewhat watchable. Drew Barrymore seems candid and enthusiastic, while Michael Keaton and Jane Fonda also stand out as solid episodes. The Billy Joe Shaver episode has a little more serious tone than the others, but still provides some laughs, not to mention some terrific musical segments. Other guests this season include Judge Judy and M. Night Shyamalan, so it is a stacked lineup of talent and even the weaker episodes are sprinkled with great bursts of laughs. Even if you don’t often watch talk shows, Norm MacDonald Has a Show subverts the genre well and brings a unique, offbeat sense of humor that really resonates.