Tracking Down That Norm Macdonald-Robin Williams Episode

Across the Internet, fans and reporters continue to rave about the Robin Williams recollection shared on Twitter by comedian Norm Macdonald.

Reddit user ArrestedDevelopments handily combined Macdonald’s sequential Tuesday tweets into a single narrative stream:

It was my first stand-up appearance on Letterman and I had to follow the funniest man in the world. I was a punk kid from rural Ontario and I was in my dressing room, terrified. I was on the phone to a friend back home when the funniest man in the world ambled by. There was no one else on the floor. In shock, I told my friend who just walked by. Only the funniest man in the world. I guess he heard me say his name, cause in an instant he was at my side. He was a Jewish tailor, taking my measurements. He went down on his knees, asked which way I dressed.

I told my friend on the phone that the funniest man in the world was on his knees before me, measuring my inseam. My friend didn’t believe me so I said, “Could you talk to my friend, sir?” The funniest man in the world took the phone and for ten minutes took my friend’s Chinese food order. I laughed and laughed and it was like I was in a dream because no one else was there. No one.

The place was out of Moo Shoo Pork, and there was nothing he could do about it. He angrily hung up on my friend and I was about to thank him when he said I hadn’t even tried the jacket on. Then the funniest man on earth dressed me, a complete stranger, and i remember he ended with a Windsor knot. He spoke mostly Yiddish, but when he finished he was happy with his job and turned me to a mirror to present myself to me. No one witnessed any of this. No one. The funniest man alive was in my dressing room a good half-hour and was far funnier than the set I had to do soon. All of a sudden it was, had to. When he left my dressing room, I felt alone. As alone as I ever remember feeling. Until today. Unacceptable. #RIPRobinWilliams

An interesting media side note is that when third-party Letterman show archives are perused, there is no clear record of the above-mentioned episode.

For example, according to Late Night with David Letterman logs at, Macdonald first appeared on the program May 9, 1990. With George Wendt, Charlie Musselwhite and Stan Sweet. Then again Sept. 5, 1991 with Tom Brokaw, Neil Patrick Harris and Art Donovan.

If you believe the Internet, the only time Macdonald and Williams officially shared the Letterman episode-bill was much later, on the September 21, 1999 edition of The Late Show. By that time, Macdonald had long since segued to the couch.

Even if you go with, as  home-province paper The Toronto Star did, that Macdonald was tweeting above about his first Late Show appearance, places like IMDb and say he was on December 29, 1993 with Terry Bradshaw and Jason Priestley. Not Robin Williams.

Macdonald has gone a long way towards setting the record straight. Or perhaps, by “follow,” he didn’t mean following Williams on the show. Currently, the closest Williams is listed as having been next to Macdonald on Dave’s Late Night is May 17, 1990.

P.S. On YouTube, the only footage we could find of Macdonald doing stand-up on Dave’s Late Night appears to be this clip.

Editor’s Note (August 14):
Per a comments thread previously attached to this article, one of our very well-informed readers, Don Giller, has figured it out. On the day that Macdonald made his Late Night with David Letterman stand-up debut (May 9, 1990), Williams appeared on The Phil Donahue Show – also shot at 30 Rock – to promote Comic Relief. The wise one then evidently ambled over to Letterman’s studio, to entertain the host backstage and encourage a fast-rising Canadian comic. In our opinion, it makes Norm’s posthumous tribute to Williams even sweeter.