Mark Normand lets me call him on a Saturday to shoot the shit. It started as me sliding into his DMs with, as Mark noted, “very low self-esteem,” and it turned into him offering me his number and to do a phoner. He’s a good guy in that way: easily reached and doesn’t hold himself to higher pretenses. When he answers the phone he tells me he’s hungover.
Mark hasn’t stopped working in quite some time. As I write this, he’s doing tours across the U.S. building a buzz for his third comedy album Out to Lunch.
“It’s packed with jokes,” he says, “it’s the best hour I’ve ever done. It’s way edgier. Way darker. I cover school shootings and pedophilia, and it’s working. Punch after punch. Got a big closer at the end.”
What you have to understand about Mark Normand is that he’s an old school comedian. To him, the joke reigns supreme. He wants to have punchline after punchline and even treats Twitter as an exercise to hit joke quotas. “Each joke is like a little magic trick,” he explains, “A comic is just a magician that’s not annoying.”
Even more to his old school charm, he wants the idea of a comedy albums to return to their roots. Forget comedy specials. They’re overdone. Everyone and their mother has a stand up special and sometimes it feels like Mark would almost opt to remove himself from the stage entirely and just have his disembodied voice tell jokes if he could. But he can’t - he has to stand there and do the damn thing. It’s in the job title. But to have a recorded hour of earnest comedy is to channel into a fading tradition. Even to put it on vinyl is a rare treat these days. One is reminded of John Mulaney’s “Kid Gorgeous” vinyl, another old soul channeling some Bob Hope era of comedy with modern material. It’s unfortunate, too, that he’s correct in thinking that comedy albums are slept on. Did you listen to Chris Redd’s But Here We Are? Or what about Jo Firestone’s outstanding 2018 album The Hits with fucking Will Butler from Arcade Fire? As someone who collected comedy records growing up, Mark’s objective rings true.
Beyond that, one has to respect Mark Normand for his work ethic. The truth is, he holds comedy to a high standard. It’s evident in all his work, even on his podcast Tuesdays with Stories that he does with his buddy and fellow comic Joe List. “There’s so many podcasts of just dudes talking,” he laments, “so we make sure to come out swinging with jokes, jokes, jokes.” ...And why shouldn’t he? The joke reigns supreme as far as I’m concerned and lord knows there are more podcasts out there than I ever need to hear. Jokes are Mark’s highest priority. When Out to Lunch comes out in July, you’ll see his almost kung-fu discipline in action.
Follow him on Twitter @MarkNorm and listen to his two earlier comedy albums Still Got It and Don’t Be Yourself.
By: Alex Gonzalez
Follow Alex @nahitsjustalex