Netflix welcomes comedy pro with ‘Norm MacDonald Has a Show’

Brooke Sjoberg

In the newest Netflix talk show, original series “Norm MacDonald Has a Show” lacks the extra segments and bands common on most talk shows but is just as entertaining through the power of a closer camera and the charm of host Norm MacDonald and his “sidekick” Adam Egert.

Macdonald previously hosted “Norm Macdonald Live” and currently has a comedy special among the streaming giant’s offerings.

MacDonald’s show is just him, Egert and the titular guest of the episode chatting over previous experiences working together, other people working in comedy and current events. Guests on the show include Jane Fonda, Chevy Chase and Drew Barrymore. At the end of every episode, MacDonald and Egert dance and serenade the audience to the last second.

Production designer Jeff Hall has mastered the art of the tight angle shot in “Norm MacDonald Has a Show.” Where talk shows such as those hosted by Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien have relied on a wide angle setup to capture all action and interaction between host and guest, the tight, close angles used by Hall bring the viewer into a more immersive experience. The tightness of the shooting puts the viewer much closer to the host desk for a longer amount of time than other programs, which use frequent wide angles to bring the studio audience into the stories being told, such as “The Oprah Winfrey Show” or “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

The show distinctly lacks the presence of numerous segments, as seen on many aforementioned programs. As a writer, Macdonald has kept the program fairly simple: talk to the guest, then have them read racy jokes. Simplification of a medium that has become increasingly complex is jarringly refreshing. The presentation of an up-close window into a chat between MacDonald, Egert and the episode’s guest is an honest approach to the talk show genre.

Describing Egert as MacDonald’s sidekick is more than apt. Egert speaks for around two minutes of each hour-long installment and is left out of frame for the majority of the program. All the viewer sees of him 80 percent of the time is his can of Red Bull. In the two minutes he does speak, his comedic style and general style of talking is complementary to MacDonald’s in such a way that it’s puzzling as to why he does not get to speak more.

Writing credit for the show is attributed to MacDonald. The pacing of his show is not a narrative and could greatly improve with more of Egert’s inclusion. Its current structure is visually unappealing, as virtually an hour-long conversation between two men. Giving Egert more screen time would satisfy the rule of three and make it simple for viewers to focus on MacDonald in the middle.

Overall, Norm MacDonald has done well with the platform given to him by Netflix. An everyman’s talk show, “Norm MacDonald Has a Show” is an incredibly simple approach to a medium prone to extravagance and glamour. There is room for improvement visually, but the content of the discussions invite the audience and viewer into a side of entertainment they’ve never seen before. It is truly a discussion between friends, with every guest, every episode.

“Norm MacDonald Has a Show”

Rating: TV-MA

Score: 4.5/5