Based on a True Story by Norm Macdonald
A Memoir


6 Critic Reviews

On the whole, however, MacDonald's faux memoir is not nearly funny enough to justify the reader's time.
-Publishers Weekly


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Wild, dangerous, and flat-out unbelievable, here is the incredible memoir of the actor, gambler, raconteur, SNL veteran, and one of the best stand-up comedians of all time.

As this book’s title suggests, Norm Macdonald tells the story of his life—more or less—from his origins on a farm in the-back-of-beyond Canada and an epically disastrous appearance on Star Search to his account of auditioning for Lorne Michaels and his memorable run as the anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live—until he was fired because a corporate executive didn’t think he was funny. But Based on a True Story is much more than a memoir; it’s the hilarious, inspired epic of Norm’s life.

In dispatches from a road trip to Las Vegas (part of a plan hatched to regain the fortune he’d lost to sports betting and other vices) with his sidekick and enabler, Adam Eget, Norm recounts the milestone moments, the regrets, the love affairs, the times fortune smiled on his life, and the times it refused to smile. As the clock ticks down, Norm’s debt reaches record heights, and he must find a way to evade the hefty price that’s been placed on his head by one of the most dangerous loan sharks in the country.

As a comedy legend should, Norm peppers these pages with classic jokes and fondly mythologized Hollywood stories. This wildly adventurous, totally original, and absurdly funny saga turns the conventional “comic’s memoir” on its head and gives the reader an exclusive pass into the mad, glorious mind of Norm Macdonald.

Praise for Based on a True Story

“A glut of books by comedians has hit bookshelves in recent years. . . . Norm Macdonald has a leg up on all of them. . . . [Based on a True Story is] the best new book I’ve read this year or last.”—Wall Street Journal

“Hilarious and filled with turns of phrase and hidden beauty like only a collection of Norm Macdonald stories could be.”—Esquire

“It’s disorienting, funny, sometimes stupid, and often wildly beautiful. . . . There has never been a less straightforward book. It’s playful and spry and just unbelievably cagey. But it broke me, and I’ll tell you why: Macdonald is a pretty extraordinary wordsmith, capable of working in an impressive range of styles and genres.”—The Week

“A driving, wild and hilarious ramble of a book, what might have happened had Hunter S. Thompson embedded himself in a network studio.”—Washington Post

“Part personal history and part meta riff on celebrity memoirs, the book, it quickly becomes clear, is also just partly true (and all hilarious).”—Vulture

“Norm is brilliant and thoughtful and there is sensitivity and creative insight in his observations and stories. A lot of comics over the years have been compared to Mark Twain, but I think Norm is the only one who actually matches the guy in terms of his voice and ability. I seriously f**king love Norm Macdonald. Please buy his book. He probably needs the cash. He’s really bad with money.”—Louis C.K., from the foreword

“Norm is one of my all-time favorites, and this book was such a great read I forgot how lonely I was for a while.”—Amy Schumer

“I always thought Normie’s stand-up was the funniest thing there was. But this book gives it a run for its money.”—Adam Sandler

From the Hardcover edition.

About Norm Macdonald

See more books from this Author
One of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time,” NORM MACDONALD is a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for five seasons, and one of the most beloved and controversial anchors of “Weekend Update.” Macdonald wrote for Roseanne and starred in The Norm Show. He was a judge on the 2015 season of Last Comic Standing. Hehas appeared in numerous movies, TV shows, and has done voiceovers in many animated features and TV shows. A complete listing can be found here: lives in Los Angeles. This is his first book.
Author Residence: Los Angeles
Author Hometown: Ottawa, Canada
Published September 20, 2016 by Spiegel & Grau. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Oct 09 2016
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Based on a True Story
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2


Below average
on Jul 19 2016

...Macdonald’s creative imagination has reached such delirium by that point that readers are likely to discount even the parts that may be true...Will try the patience of even the comedian’s fans.

Read Full Review of Based on a True Story: A Memoir | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Oct 21 2016

On the whole, however, MacDonald's faux memoir is not nearly funny enough to justify the reader's time.

Read Full Review of Based on a True Story: A Memoir | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by John Semley on Sep 23 2016

It’s a cliché of comedians that they “say what we’re all thinking.” But with Macdonald, it feels true. The difference is that he says what we’re thinking without even cleaning it up, delivering observations with such brute force and sucker-punch obviousness that they don’t scan as traditional jokes.

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AV Club

Reviewed by Sean O'Neal on Oct 12 2016

...he’s created a hilarious, innovative work, at a time when the work is only part of what makes a comedian successful. Maybe someday, when no one remembers Norm Macdonald or SNL (let alone any of us), future readers will rediscover and embrace it as a purely comic novel...

Read Full Review of Based on a True Story: A Memoir | See more reviews from AV Club

The Maine Edge

Reviewed by Allen Adams on Sep 21 2016

“Based on a True Story” is not the sort of showbiz memoir people have come to expect. It is not a retelling or a recounting – it is a reimagining, a few basic facts tossed into a framework of inspired lunacy and left to fend for themselves.

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Reviewed by B.J. Lisko on Sep 28 2016

Macdonald has once again highlighted his genius in narration, wit and tongue-in-cheek charm, and “Based on a True Story” is an unforgettable and funny memoir — even if Macdonald can’t really remember what should’ve gone in it in the first place.

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