Comedian Norm Macdonald died Tuesday after privately fighting cancer for nine years, a representative confirmed to The Washington Post. He was 61.

Known for his offbeat and absurdist humor, Macdonald spent a handful of years on “Saturday Night Live” in the mid-1990s. He anchored “Weekend Update” for three seasons, picking up a cultish following that lasted long after his time on the show (which allegedly ended because he angered NBC’s Don Ohlmeyer by consistently joking about Ohlmeyer’s friend O.J. Simpson). Speaking to The Post five years ago, SNL creator Lorne Michaels noted that Macdonald, who rarely repeated jokes, made comedy seem effortless — “which, of course, is what a pro is supposed to do,” Michaels added.

Even those Macdonald poked fun at while on SNL, including former senator Bob Dole and musician Frank Stallone, were endeared to him. Dole stated Tuesday on Twitter that Macdonald “was a great talent, and I loved laughing with him on SNL.”

Macdonald, who briefly wrote for “Roseanne” before working on SNL, returned to sitcoms when he co-created and starred as a former NHL player in “The Norm Show” from 1999 to 2001. He began a video podcast called “Norm Macdonald Live” in 2013 — on which he interviewed other celebrities — and carried the concept to Netflix for 2018′s “Norm Macdonald Has a Show.”

The comedian also made notable guest appearances on multiple talk shows hosted by Conan O’Brien as well as “The Late Show With David Letterman,” performing the latter show’s final stand-up set in May 2015. The choice may have seemed unconventional at the time, but Letterman told The Post soon afterward that “if we could have, we would have had Norm on every damn week.”

“He is funny in a way that some people inhale and exhale,” Letterman said. “With others, you can tell the comedy, the humor, is considered. With Norm, he exudes it. It’s sort of a furnace in him because he’s so effortless. The combination of the delivery and his appearance and his intelligence. There may be people as funny as Norm, but I don’t know anybody who is funnier.”

Similar sentiments poured out on Twitter after the news of Macdonald’s death. “In every important way, in the world of stand-up, Norm was the best,” Letterman wrote. “Always up to something, never certain, until his matter-of-fact delivery leveled you.” O’Brien said he was “absolutely devastated,” and that Macdonald “had the most unique comedic voice I have ever encountered and he was so relentlessly and uncompromisingly funny.”

Actor Jim Carrey referred to his friend as “one of our most precious gems,” while comedian Jon Stewart noted, “No one could make you break like Norm Macdonald. Hilarious and unique.” Sarah Silverman said “Norm was in a comedy genre of his own. No one like him on this planet.” Fellow SNL cast member Darrell Hammond wrote “there was no one funnier,” and that the “hardest I ever laughed was with him.”

Several of Macdonald’s famous fans mentioned his talk show appearances as well — including director Edgar Wright and actor Seth Rogen, who said he used to stay up to watch Macdonald’s guest appearances and “essentially ripped off his delivery when I first started acting.”

In 2016, The Washington Post’s Geoff Edgers flew across the country to watch the Super Bowl with comedian Norm Macdonald. (Erin Patrick O'Connor, Sharon A. Mooney/The Washington Post)

Macdonald reflected on fame in his 2016 memoir, “Based on a True Story.” In what he titled “The Final Chapter,” he wrote that he believed “a lot of people feel sorry for you if you were on SNL and emerged from the show anything less than a superstar.”

“They assume you must be bitter,” he continued. “But it is impossible for me to be bitter. I’ve been lucky. If I had to sum up my whole life, I guess those are the words I would choose, all right.”

Additional tributes below:

Emily Langer contributed to this post.

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