Based On A True Story is the autobiography of famed stand-up comedian Norm MacDonald – or so he would have you believe. Rather than tell you his real life story, Norm decided to write of his one-time plan to borrow millions of dollars from various casinos in Las Vegas, turn that money into millions for himself, then retire to a ranch in Montana. As the story moves along, Norm, strung out on morphine, tells a completely skewed, often fictionalized version of his life to his pal and real-life podcast co-host Adam Eget as he drives them from LA to Vegas.
While the majority of the memoir is totally off-base, its core is still tied to some of Norm’s real life history. His time on Saturday Night Live is discussed with his arrival at the show depicting Lorne Michaels as an unhinged drug addict whom Norm bribes with government-grade morphine to secure his spot. His obsession with fellow cast member Sarah Silverman was a definite high point of the book – it had me laughing hysterically as he cluelessly pursued her, leading him to plot to assassinate her then-boyfriend Dave Attell. His move to the Update Desk is mentioned where he spent 3 years reading “the fake news” – he even includes a chapter of the Top 25 Update Jokes of All-Time (#1 belongs to Chevy Chase, 2-25 are all Norm’s, of course)!
The filming of Dirty Work is also covered, although there’s a story about a Canadian serial killer whose actions threatened the success of the movie (although if you believe Norm’s word, Dirty Work was massively successful earning $250 million its opening weekend). Like his earlier discussion of meeting Rodney Dangerfield, Norm’s telling of hiring Don Rickles for the film stays within the scope of each of the aforementioned comedian’s style. Norm became upset over constant insults from Don Rickles when trying to offer him a role in the movie, just like he couldn’t understand why Rodney Dangerfield couldn’t get any respect. Despite Norm admitting his admiration for the Rickles, his character was completely oblivious to the comedian’s humour. This had me cry-laughing.
There’s so much more that I could get into here, but I don’t want to spoil everything. Based On A True Story was wildly original, completely over-the-top, and I absolutely loved it. There were points where I found myself laughing so hard my sides would hurt and if that isn’t a proper endorsement, I don’t know what is. The idea that Norm would portray himself as a narcissistic, delusional monster was completely unexpected and easily puts this in a category of its own.