Conan O’Brien Says Norm Macdonald Did the ‘Most Brilliant Comedy’ About O.J. Simpson on ‘SNL’ When ‘the Head of the Network Was Tight With O.J.’

Conan O’Brien appeared on CNN for an interview with Jake Tapper a few hours after news broke that O.J. Simpson had died. Making the press rounds in support of his new Max series “Conan O’Brien Must Go,” the comedian and former late-night host quipped “I never make a joke about someone the day they passed.” But O’Brien did reflect on the time when late-night shows had to cover O.J. Simpson’s murder trial.

“It was a huge deal back then. Most notably, he’s passed on, but Norm Macdonald,” O’Brien said. “One of my best guests of all time and one of the great comedians of all time. He did the most brilliant comedy of anybody during that period.”

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Tapper noted the reports that claimed Macdonald was fired as a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” because he frequently targeted and mocked Simpson while hosting “Weekend Update.” Macdonald made jokes where the punchline was always that Simpson was guilty of murder. Don Ohlmeyer, the president of NBC at the time, was a friend of Simpson’s and allegedly warned Macdonald to stop making jokes at Simpson’s expense.

“Yes, the head of the network at the time was tight with O.J.,” O’Brien said about Macdonald’s firing, quipping: “Anyway, water under the bridge!”

“That was a huge moment in history in this country. It was a massive,” O’Brien continued. “There have been times where we’ve needed to stop and reassess where we are in our racial history and where are we and what progress has been made. And that was one of those moments. It was a watershed moment.”

On a different note, O’Brien’s press tour for his Max series also took him to the popular YouTube interview series “Hot Ones.” He jokingly roasted Warner Bros. Discovery for constantly changing the name of its streaming service, as HBO Go transitioned into HBO Max which is now just Max.

“Is it HBO Max or just Max? I can’t get used to it,” O’Brien joked. “It’s not a better name. I have a show, it’s on Max. They used to call it HBO, but people found that too popular. So now it’s Max because that really rolls off the tongue. And it’s a funny show.”

Watch O’Brien’s full CNN interview with Tapper in the video below.

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