Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
TORONTO -- He's skewered Donald Trump, Bill Maher, and most famously, O.J. Simpson, but comic Norm Macdonald says he has no intention of attacking homegrown celebs when he hosts the Canadian Screen Awards this weekend.
The standup star says he's preparing a monologue for Sunday's televised bash while sifting through submissions from other writers tasked with filling out the rest of the show.
"Some of the jokes the writers were sending me were kind of like I was insulting everybody and I was like, 'Oh God, I don't want to do that,"' Macdonald says in a recent phone interview from his adopted home in Los Angeles.
"They had shown me ads where it was like, 'Guarantee to be offended.' It sounded like that was their tag line, and I said, 'I'm not going to offend anybody.' So I asked them to not advertise it that way.
"I think they thought I'd be like Ricky Gervais or something."
The Quebec City-born Macdonald gushes over big comedy nominees including Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara, both up for acting awards for their turn as a downtrodden wealthy couple in CBC's "Schitt's Creek."
"We all had our favourite 'SCTV' guys, (I'd) watch 'SCTV' more than 'Saturday Night Live,"' he says, pointing to the late John Candy as his favourite.
"And Catherine O'Hara was the greatest because she was like the sexiest, funny person, funniest girl that I ever saw.... It's very hard to be funny for a woman if they're that attractive but she was amazing."
"Schitt's Creek" tops the TV contenders with 14 nominations including best comedy. It already won six trophies at an early industry awards event but will seek the best comedy prize Sunday against the CBC/City laugher "Mr. D," APTN's "Mohawk Girls," Super Channel's "Tiny Plastic Men" and the City/CBC sitcom "Young Drunk Punk."
The best TV drama race will be between Bravo's "19-2," APTN's "Blackstone," CTV's "Motive," CTV's "Saving Hope" and CBC's "X Company."
On the film side, the Oscar-nominated Canada-Ireland co-production "Room" leads with 11 nominations, including for best picture, best actor for nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay and best actress for Oscar-winner Brie Larson.
"I told (the writers) if she wins she should accept the award but she should be holding her Oscar the whole time ... and just never mention it," cracks Macdonald.
"(She should) say it's the greatest award she ever got."
Then there's the comically wide age gap between best actor rivals Christopher Plummer, nominated for the Nazi revenge thriller "Remember," and the young Tremblay.
"It's like screaming out for a joke," Macdonald says of the Plummer-Tremblay race.
"It should be obvious but I haven't been able to figure it out yet. But we will. We'll crack it."
He mused on turning to previous Canadian Screen Award host Martin Short for tips, noting the former "SCTV" and "SNL" star will be on hand to accept a lifetime achievement award.
Short called it a huge honour to be recognized in his homeland, crediting Canada with a fostering an especially fertile environment for quirky, offbeat comics.
"The most exciting part of your career is when it all begins and the first of everything. And the first of everything in my career was in Toronto, culminating in 'SCTV,"' Short said in a separate interview from Los Angeles.
"I've always felt Canada is the most amazing place for the creative because it accepts odd behaviour and celebrates it. That's why 'SCTV' so clearly flourished in Canada -- because it celebrated odd characters and behaviour."