Based on a True Story

A Memoir
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4,590 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Wild, dangerous, and flat-out unbelievable, here is the incredible memoir of the actor, gambler, raconteur, and SNL veteran and one of the best stand-up comedians of all time.

As this book's title suggests, Norm Macdonald tells the story of his life - more or less - from his origins on a farm in the-back-of-beyond Canada and an epically disastrous appearance on Star Search to his account of auditioning for Lorne Michaels and his memorable run as the anchor of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live - until he was fired because a corporate executive didn't think he was funny.

But Based on a True Story is much more than a memoir; it's the hilarious, inspired epic of Norm's life. In dispatches from a road trip to Las Vegas (part of a plan hatched to regain the fortune he'd lost to sports betting and other vices) with his sidekick and enabler, Adam Eget, Norm recounts the milestone moments, the regrets, the love affairs, the times fortune smiled on his life, and the times it refused to smile. As the clock ticks down, Norm's debt reaches record heights, and he must find a way to evade the hefty price that's been placed on his head by one of the most dangerous loan sharks in the country.

As a comedy legend should, Norm peppers these minutes with classic jokes and fondly mythologized Hollywood stories. This wildly adventurous, totally original, and absurdly funny saga turns the conventional comic's memoir on its head and gives the listener an exclusive pass into the mad, glorious mind of Norm Macdonald.

©2016 Norm Macdonald (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Norm is one of my all-time favorites, and this book was such a great read I forgot how lonely I was for a while." (Amy Schumer)
"I always thought Normie's stand-up was the funniest thing there was. But this book gives it a run for its money." (Adam Sandler)
"Norm only has to grunt to make me laugh. And this book is three hundred pages? Sign me up." (Sophia Amoruso, author of #GIRLBOSS)

Editor's Pick

An incredible experience
"There's a reason why Norm MacDonald is revered by so many other comedians, and it's not just because he is a truly hilarious and original comedic voice. It’s because he is, above all else, an incredible storyteller whose love for language and knowledge thereof allows him to do comic cartwheels around his peers. This is a memoir that somehow manages to blur fact and fiction (although, I'm sure MacDonald would take issue with this point) and blends some of the best, most lyrical writing (no joke) with some of the funniest writing I've ever come across. To hear him tell it is an incredible experience."
Doug P., Audible Editor

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What listeners say about Based on a True Story

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Crazy. But also great.

Would you listen to Based on a True Story again? Why?

I expect I will listen to it again in a year or so. It was excellent and I am blessed with a short memory.

What did you like best about this story?

I know MacDonald's career fairly well, so it is fun to try to pick to truth from the silliness.

Have you listened to any of Norm Macdonald’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Norm is fantastic.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

In a world...

Any additional comments?

Top notch.

15 people found this helpful

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Bizarre, funny ride

I'm so glad I got the audio version, I can't imagine it any other way. Norm obviously knows how he wanted the story told and he delivered it perfectly. If you're at all a fan of Mr Macdonald's you owe it to yourself to get this book.

22 people found this helpful

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NORM!!!

God I love NORM and this book as well. Way to go NORM! You did it!!

10 people found this helpful

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Brilliant!

Norm is a natural story teller who seems to transcend stand-up. Even though he says at the beginning of the book that this is all true, its extremely hard to believe based on its outlandish nature.
My only complaint is that the audio book doesn't include the forward by Louis CK.

12 people found this helpful

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Classic Norm, refined

If you like Norm's sense of humor, you're going to love this book. Much more than a breezy comic memoir, this story doesn't just hop from ha-ha to ha-ha (although there are plenty of belly laughs), but is carried by an undercurrent of deep existential humor and a real writer's talent for observation -- of the world, society, the entertainment industry, and the self -- much more revealing and profound than one might expect, all of it buttressed by MacDonald's trademark gift for an effective absurdity which is at full-throttle throughout. Based On A True Story is a work of true literary inventiveness and skill that stands apart from other celebrity autobiographies, if one could even call this an autobiography, as it can be difficult to tell at times whether you're reading truth, narrative device, or simply being fucked with; but it doesn't matter, as the ride may be better for its nebulous, HST-influenced mishmash of fact, fiction, and surreal imagery. The ghost-writer idea was a stroke of genius. I highly recommend listening to the audio version. Some books suffer from it, this one benefits.

5 people found this helpful

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"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" but with a killer answering machine joke.

Norm's comedic voice is sui generis and comes through in this book. Whether recounting anecdotes featuring Kinison, Dangerfield, Sandler, Silverman, Jim Downey, and Lorne Michaels, listing the top 25 Weekend Update jokes, or flirting with genuine profundity in his melancholic existential musings on the fleeting nature of human existence and the fragility of fame, Norm has crafted an amusing and poignant memoir. And who's memoir is next? You guessed it: Frank Stallone.

11 people found this helpful

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norm nails it

If you could sum up Based on a True Story in three words, what would they be?

Literature, subversive, brilliant.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Norm, obviously. But 'character' is a key word here. Seems to me that Norm has written a comic novel based on his life -- at first I thought it was directly inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, but as I listened further I realized this was great tragicomic fiction in the tradition of Mark Twain..

What about Norm Macdonald’s performance did you like?

He reads it brilliantly, affecting the 'I'm just an old chunk 'a coal" style and voice of an old rural storyteller, which is clearly how he intended the text to be read.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

See This Movie, Sure, But The Book Is Probably Unfilmable, At Least The Best Parts Are, So Read The Book Maybe Instead?give me a break, audible. I'm trying to review a book, not promote a movie.

Any additional comments?

This book will confuse people looking for a juicy celebrity memoir, if those sort of people actually exist. It will delight those who enjoy good writing, as well as Norm's fans. The book is like an ambitious first novel, and I hope he writes more.

14 people found this helpful

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Terrible!

Please don't waste your time or money in this. This book is quite literally the worst book I've read/listened to in years. The story is peppered with jokes that are far from being funny, and the untruths just get annoying after awhile. I regret spending as much time as I did on this book, but I did stop with about 3 hours left. I couldn't take another minute.

3 people found this helpful

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Excited to get to the end

Love the guy .... love his dry humor ... hated this book .... wish I could have my time back ....

3 people found this helpful

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After listening to this I am still puzzled ...

I am not sure if norm is a genius that overlooks the obvious and sees the world from outside the normal confines or the luckiest man this world has ever seen.

3 people found this helpful