Hardly seems fair to make a one-hit wonder out of a nightclub comic with thousands of hours under his belt, none of which were about O.J. Simpson. You get the sense he felt the same way. None of that material ever really grazed his act. To Norm, SNL was something that was dead and gone, and it was time to move forward.

And it makes sense: O.J. may have been the most boring thing about the O.J. trial. The miscarriage of justice and moral bankruptcy of the media was almost always more shocking than yet another charismatic rich sociopath getting away with murder, at least after the car chase. And when it was over, it made sense for Norm to drop the material.

And he was very clear from then on that while he enjoyed Weekend Update and the fame from hassling O.J., his whole deal was stand-up, and he worked at it constantly. Because that work lives and evolves, and Norm’s Weekend Update, no matter how good, is back there in the 90s, an artifact of a long-finished legal proceeding. Being forever linked to an emblematic ‘90s villain made a veteran, grizzled-ass stand-up seem a bit washed up. But his real work was in clubs, not on television.

I remember how I met Norm, a zillion years ago at one of those improv clubs at the mall that 30 years ago would have been smoky as hell. I introduced myself after the set and told him Don Ohlmeyer, who fired him from SNL—allegedly because he and O.J. were golf buddies—taught at my school. I said I had it on reliable authority that the dude was cokey and double-parked his convertible, then I offered to throw rocks at it.

I remember how he chuckled and said he was probably fired because his Update segments had too much dead air, and that I should not throw rocks at Don Ohlmeyer’s car. He’d clearly made peace with his SNL tenure ending the way it did, and I think there’s a lesson there. He was over it. In the ‘90s, O.J. was a murderer facing a trial that damned the justice system and pretty much the whole LAPD. Now he’s just a dead guy, and we should let him stay that way.

And everybody loves the “Murder is legal in the state of California” joke, but in Norm’s book he’s got a list of his favorite Update jokes, and O.J.’s only on there once. It’s this one:

“This week in the O.J. Simpson trial, Johnnie Cochran delivered a spellbinding final summation. In a brilliant move, Cochran put on the knit cap prosecutors say Simpson wore the night of the double murders–although O.J. may have hurt his case when he suddenly blurted out, “Hey, hey, careful with that. That’s my lucky stabbing hat!”

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