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Based on a True Story

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,578 ratings  ·  964 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "Driving, wild and hilarious" (The Washington Post), here is the incredible "memoir" of the actor, gambler, raconteur, and Saturday Night Live veteran.

Don't miss Norm's new Netflix special, Hitler's Dog, Gossip & Treachery!

When Norm Macdonald, one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time, was approached to write a celebrity memoir, he flatly
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Spiegel & Grau
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Matthew I assumed it was fictional part of himself, like Fight Club. The part of Norm that was the smart calculating gambler, knew when to walk away, the inte…moreI assumed it was fictional part of himself, like Fight Club. The part of Norm that was the smart calculating gambler, knew when to walk away, the intellectual part that treats gambling as a science. The gambler he could be if he wasnt chasing hope and trying to avoid anxiety and going on tilt.(less)
Chris Bushman Here and there, not a lot. Are you comfortable with recreational morphine? Lot's o' that.

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I went into this book having a great deal of respect for Norm MacDonald. I've always found him to be a hilarious comedian - a seemingly good guy. In interviews he can be a bit dirty, but it's a facetious kind of dirty that casts personal judgment on the subjects that he's tackling.

Then I read this book. The Norm MacDonald I thought I knew from TV appearances and podcasts was quickly stripped away and replaced by a morphine addicted narcissist. This memoir recounts incident after incident of Norm
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Man was I looking forward to reading this book. In case I haven’t made it really flippin’ crystal clear already, I’m a HUUUUGE fan of all things SNL. While others complain about bad seasons and bad casts, I am a constant defender and only acknowledge bad skits or bad reoccurring characters rather than opting to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also believe Norm Macdonald is one of comedy’s most untapped resources. His dry deliv
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
would've been too generous a tagline (that one may belong to British funwit Russell Brand. Or maybe Kathy Griffin's). But it is not wholly untrue: it is the only of its kind that actually dabbles with the (capital L) Literary. Yes, it is THE Norm Macdonald autobio (& not the Tina Fey, Amy Pohler, Rachel Dratch, Sarah Silverman, [even!!!] Steve Martin ones!) which transcends form. It takes Quixotean turns (i.e. postmodernism)! There's a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made up truth.

“Based on a True Story” is my first experience with an audio book. Although I think that it was a good way to experience this text, I don’t imagine there are many audiobooks in my future. However, hearing Norm’s voice is the best part, as it really brings out the cadence in his writing, and his delivery is one of his best traits.
Some highlights of the book:
*There is a rather touching tribute to the comic Sam Kinison, who died in 1992.
*Chapter 17 is classic Norm Macdonald humor. So
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A moth goes into a podiatrist’s office. The podiatrist says, “What’s the problem?” The moth says, “Where do I begin with my problems? Every day I go to work for Gregory Vassilievich, and all day long I toil. But what is my work? I am a bureaucrat, and so every day I joylessly move papers from one place to another and then back again. I no longer know what it is that I actually do, and I don’t even know if Gregory Vassilievich knows. He only knows that he has power over me, and this seems to brin ...more
Katie B
Well, leave it to Norm Macdonald to have written the most unusual celeb memoir I have ever read. He does however give you fair warning that not everything in the book is true. Instead it's this weird mix of truth, things that are ridiculously false, and stuff that makes you wonder, is he pulling my leg or is this legit?

I never listen to audiobooks, but this time I wish I had because his humor doesn't translate as well in written form. That's not to say the book isn't funny as there were multiple
This is not your normal, straightforward memoir, far from it, actually. The best that I can describe it is off-the-wall or zany. Zany is not usually my cup of tea--I'd rather have a straight memoir dishing on all of the author's inside information on show business and especially Saturday Night Live. Having said that, there were parts of this book that were really funny. That was its saving grace, the humor was on point. I still would've rather had more of Macdonald's real experiences, but this w ...more
Sam Quixote
Norm MacDonald’s book Based on a True Story is a nonfiction memoir. And I am Batman, aka The Dark Knight, protector of Gotham City. Yup, neither statement is true!

Maybe he thinks his life isn’t that interesting or that it’s funnier to do it this way, but Norm has framed his memoir/debut novel with a story that resembles a cross between Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Ocean’s 11! He writes himself as a scheming conman and morphine and gambling addict, determined to borrow a million bucks from
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, 2017, favorites
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 podc ...more
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're a fan of Norm Macdonald's humor, read this book.
Well, don't read it - listen to the audiobook.

It's hard to get too much into what makes this book so special without "spoiling" it. Ultimately, it proves how vivid and accurate a picture you can create of a person when you're not restricted to facts alone. The more the book (a novel) plays around with the memoir format, the more true to Norm's mind it gets, and the more meaning you'll find if you're paying attention.

The audiobook adds a w
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have long been a fan of Norm Macdonald, and with good reason - he is brilliant.
I have long been anticipating his book, and with good reason - he is an immaculate storyteller.

I was hoping to savor this treasure, to dwell on the tidbits of gold (for indeed he did give gold, not straw and a Rumpelstiltskean task like he claims) but I quickly became consumed and did not come up for breath until I read the very last word.

I had heard rumors that it was to be more fiction than fact, and while I w
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was hilarious and weird and dark and so very, very Norm Macdonald and I loved it.
Chris Jaffe
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, that was disappointing. Norm Macdonald is hilarious, and at times this book is as well - but it keeps getting in its own way with a schtick that is more annoying that entertaining.

The premise is intriguing: Norm will tell stories about his life, but make stuff up along the way (hench the title of the book). OK - and the book gets off to a nice start with (supposed) childhood tales. But two things in the book undermine it - and both get stronger and more pronounced as the story goes on. Fi
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy
** spoiler alert **

This is not a memoir. I don't think. It appears to start off as one, but then about halfway through, Norm seemingly tires of the genre and turns his life's story into something of a ludicrous picaresque novel. One of the delights of this read is the way in which he makes this transition; it took me a few pages to realize what was happening, and at one point I actually turned to Google to see if Norm had in fact committed any criminal acts against Dave Attell.

Those looking fo
11811 (Eleven)
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm one of those people who laughs at Norm even when he says something that arguably isn't even funny so I'm a little biased. This entire memoir is bullshit but it's very entertaining bullshit.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, 2016, can-con
There is the way things are and then the way things appear, and it is the way things appear, even when false, that is often the truest.

I'm Norm Macdonald and this is the fake memoir...or so the Germans would have you believe.

Okay, Norm Macdonald doesn't actually admit that this is a fake memoir, but Based on a True Story is both more and less than the typical celebrity tell-all: anyone looking for a behind-the-scenes look at SNL will be mostly disappointed; anyone looking for the sad facts o
Nov 22, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I like Norm's work and respect that he took a risk in the format and tone of his autobiography. No, it wasn't derivative or sentimental or overly kitschy -- but it also wasn't very informative, clear or entertaining...or most importantly funny.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The most I've laughed all year.
Patrick Book
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
It would be impossible to describe this accurately. The dust jacket doesn't take into account the manic scope of the thing -- let alone properly emphasize the gleeful, madcap fiction that holds whatever thin strands of truth that run through the narrative together. This is an insane head trip that is at times frighteningly honest and dark (while being almost definitely fiction), but also completely ludicrous (while hinting at some of life's larger truths).

This really is pure, unadulterated Norm
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i mean, norm macdonald wrote this book
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Crime and Punishment of comedy writing
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you thought Norm Macdonald was going to write a straightforward autobiography, you haven't been paying much attention to him the past 30 years.

Based on a True Story resembles reality much less than its title might suggest. Yes, Dave Attell is a real person, but I feel like the story of Norm getting caught hiring a hit man to kill Attell and then raping a man in prison does more than just take creative liberties with the truth.

In fact, throughout the entire book, it was hard to pick out anythi
Freda Mans-Labianca
The world's longest joke?
I think I just read it with this book. Seriously.
Did he have a ghost writer, or did he not? I don't know. It was weird, expectantly, but was it too weird?
I did laugh. A lot, in fact. I was also baffled at times too. Still, I enjoyed what I read.
This guy comes from a place in Ontario that I haven't even heard of, and I live in Ontario too. I found that funny, but it also prompts me to want to see more of my beautiful province.
Do I feel like I read a memoir? Not in the lea
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norm is a hero of mine, so I've been waiting for this to come out for damn near two years, and I wasn't even disappointed. It's Tolstoy and Nabokov and Hunter S. Thompson, but really it's all Norm. It's not a celebrity memoir, and Norm is not a celebrity author: it's a memoir, and Norm is an author. The man can write. Mean. You will laugh until you cry, but you might also just cry. (Maybe. Probably not. But still, he is poetic.) You will leave wanting more. At which point you get in touch with m ...more
Craig Bierko
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm four chapters in and I'm committing to five stars because Norm has no intention of telling the truth and, as he says early on, nothing after the fact is exactly true - which is true. He pulls genuine memories from his life and tells you what you need to know along with a surreal spin that, oddly, feels like life itself. It's a weird thing, this living thing, and Norm captures that sense in a way that's both warm an cruel.
Patrick Adams
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I am a big fan of Norm MacDonald. I went into reading this book thinking I'd get an understanding of his enigmatic life. In some cases, you got a true to life story (SNL, movies) but the longest running narrative was an obviously fictional, albeit funny, story. I found myself seeking out the things that were true and began ignoring the fictional story elements. It took away from it quite a bit. He's a comedy genius, but this book is a bit of a misfire.
Arf Ortiyef
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
somewhere in the middle of a Venn diagram of "Daddy's Boy", "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Pale Fire". was laughing out loud quite a lot.
Ericka Clouther
I picked this one up because I saw Norm MacDonald's Netflix standup special. The special got some mixed reviews, including from MacDonald. I've been going through a tough time because my mother is progressively getting worse from terminal kidney cancer and MacDonald's dark humor about life really struck a chord with me.

So this week, my mother switched to hospice care, and I turned to MacDonald's book to get away from all the heavy stuff I've been reading but also to get some dark laughs in. Got
Daniel Polansky
There are a lot of good throw away lines in this anti-celebrity memoir, but the main joy is seeing MacDonald’s parodying of literary styles – a few chapters of Bukowski, a pitch-perfect if horrifying pseudo-Faulkner – which are fabulously spot on. A librarian in the Silver Lake library wearing a Tom Waits t-shirt shushed me for laughing too loudly while I was reading it, so I guess you should probably take that as a solid recommendation.
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Norman Gene Macdonald is a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, producer and actor.

He is known for his five seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which included anchoring Weekend Update for three years. Early in his career, he wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and made appearances on shows including The Drew Carey Show and NewsRadio.

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