Macdonald repeatedly ridiculed public figures such as Marion Barry, Michael Jackson and O. In the broadcast following Simpson's acquittal, Macdonald opened "Weekend Update" by saying: "Well, it is finally official: Murder is legal in the state of California." During the February 24, 1996, episode, Macdonald made a controversial joke about the sentencing of John Lotter, one of the two men who committed the notorious murder of Brandon Teena: "In Falls City, Nebraska, John Lotter has been sentenced to death for attempting to kill three people in what prosecutors called a plot to silence a cross-dressing female who had accused him of rape.
Howard Stern asked Seth Meyers about Macdonald's insider tale, and Meyers didn't cast blame on Norm, but said he certainly wouldn't have done it.
Early in his career, he wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and made appearances on shows including The Drew Carey Show and News Radio. Comedy Central named him #83 on the five-part miniseries 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.His brother is Canadian journalist Neil Macdonald, of CBC News.