'No limits' for comedian MacDonald

Every generation, there's a comedic rebel or two who make it clear they don't always play the game by the usual rules.

Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Sam Kinison are examples of comics who ignored what was sometimes required to impress an industry.

Norm MacDonald, who will perform Tuesday and Wednesday at the Loony Bin, is another contemporary humorist who tends to thumb his nose at business convention.

"Norm doesn't give a (bleep) about anything except going to Las Vegas to gamble and writing funny jokes," former "Saturday Night Live" castmate David Spade says in admiration. "No one can give less a (bleep) than Norm. He'll stand behind any joke, no matter how offensive it is. If you have something funny, he'll do it."

MacDonald, 45, earned a reputation as an envelope pusher as "SNL's" Weekend Update anchor during the early to mid-'90s. MacDonald's ABC sitcom "Norm," which ran from 1999 to 2001, was as raw as network fare could get at the time.

"I enjoyed television, but it has to be done my way," MacDonald said in an interview. "Maybe that has ticked some people off. If that's so, there's other things for me to do besides television."

An excellent alternative to the restrictive small screen is the stage. The daring, unpredictable MacDonald has always been a natural stand-up.

"I really like doing it," MacDonald said. "I ended up rededicating myself to it. I've turned out to be a good writer, and that's due to stand-up. All of my stand-up is written. It's not performance. It's all mapped out."

MacDonald's success as an ace stand-up comic is partly due to how uncompromising he has become as a performer. However, during his earlier years, he pandered a bit, he said.

"When I started doing stand-up, I was doing material to please the audience," MacDonald said. "That's not the way to go about it. At least, that's not something that works for me. It's not good to aim for the audience. You go out there and you just be yourself, do what you feel like doing."

Kinison, who perhaps had even a greater disregard for authority than MacDonald, was an influence.

"Sam Kinison changed my attitude toward stand-up," MacDonald said. "When he was alive, I talked to him a lot and he told me, 'Hey, you can talk about anything you want when you do stand-up. You should talk about stuff you find the most interesting.' That made so much sense. The great thing about what I do with stand-up is that there are no limits."

If you go

norm MacDonald

Where: Loony Bin, 6140 E. 21st St.

When: 8 p.m. Tue. and 8 and 10:30 p.m. Wed.

How much: Tickets are $25. To make reservations, call 316-618-4242.