Norm MacDonald’s 115th Dream

Why Norm is a master of the Twitterverse.

I am not an exceptionally gifted Twitter user. My tweets (just over 500 in all) rarely venture outside the realm of shameless self-promotion, beer-fueled reactions to live sporting events, and statements that verge on being overly-critical and mean. I often don’t bother tweeting because I find it laborious and worry I’ll type something that one day will get me in trouble. Mostly I use Twitter as a sort of 21st century news ticker — I just watch.

I was doing exactly that on the evening Jan. 19 around 7 p.m. Eastern Time when Norm MacDonald revealed himself to me as a master of the medium.

A casual follower, I’d seen Norm’s tweets in the past, mostly during major sporting events. Norm tweets a lot about sports while he’s watching them live (like me when I tweet about sports, it’s quite possible that beer is involved). But on Monday, Jan. 19, Norm launched into an epic Twitter account of his meeting and spending two days with Bob Dylan, a personal hero of mine whose enigmatism (yeah, not a word, but it seems to work here) I find irresistible.

Like his penchant for telling jokes that are long and filled with suspense (see the genius telling of “A moth goes into a podiatrist’s office” that derailed an entire episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien), Norm has somehow transformed a medium that is supposed to be concise and shallow into one that allows for rich, suspenseful, and meaningful stories that unfold over time.

Case in point: Norm’s account of meeting Bob Dylan. Over the span of dozens of tweets, Norm went into detail about how Dylan reached out to him early in his career and how they hung out for two days.

Here’s what I remember:

Dylan asked Norm if he ate meat or not. Norm said he did, though he wasn’t sure if that was the right answer. Norm described Dylan’s face as looking like an impressionistic painting while he talked. He noted how Dylan’s words seem deeply measured, even though he was speaking extemporaneously; how the pair didn’t drink or do drugs; how they listened to Waylon Jennings “Honky Tonk Heroes” in its entirety — without speaking; how they ate beef stew in silence; how they shared mutual admiration for Billy Joe Shaver; how Dylan took Norm out to meet the old man who sat in the security booth at Dylan’s place and had the old man tell Norm “the story,” which turned out to be a real gut buster; how Bob seemed obsessed with verbs and “verbifying” words; how Norm wished he had secretly been taping the whole encounter; how Dylan mind-blowingly explained to Norm that most things we think of as art are just stenography, that real writing is different; and how Norm regretted not secretly recording the whole encounter.

Then, in the most Dylan-esque of moves, Norm deleted the whole thread, causing me (and dozens of other followers) to wonder if it had ever happened in the first place.

I feel lucky to have the memory, as imprecise as it might be. Like Norm, though, I wish I had recorded what I witnessed. Unfortunately, I’m just a stenographer.

Oh, and you should probably start following Norm MacDonald on Twitter. The dude’s a fucking genius.

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