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Norm Macdonald hosts the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto in 2016. The comedian known for his work on Saturday Night Live has died at the age of 61 after a private battle with cancer.

Peter Power/The Canadian Press

Norm Macdonald, the deadpan Quebec comedian who rose from Canadian nightclubs to the heights of Saturday Night Live fame, has died at 61 after a private battle with cancer.

Representatives for his management agency, Brillstein Entertainment Partners, confirmed the death on Tuesday, saying further details were not available.

The revelation came as a shock to many as Mr. Macdonald hadn’t shared his diagnosis with his fans.

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The Quebec City-raised standup was best known for his tenure on Saturday Night Live from 1993 to 1998, where he appeared behind the “Weekend Update” desk to poke fun at the latest news events.

He also made an impression of Burt Reynolds as a contestant on Jeopardy!, one of his most beloved characters.

Yuk Yuk co-founder Mark Breslin said Mr. Macdonald’s sheer star power was clear from his earliest days on the Canadian comedy circuit, where he forged a unique voice from the onset, impressing his peers.

“He combined a laconic delivery and a deadpan look, and yet he had this great twinkle in those blue eyes of his that let you know everything was kind of a joke,” Mr. Breslin said. “And it was a real powerful combination all those things.”

Mr. Macdonald went on to amass a devoted following among comedy fans for his ribald rejection of easy punchlines.

He would appear in a number of films with his former SNL castmates, including Adam Sandler in Billy Madison and Rob Schneider in The Animal.

Mr. Macdonald also led the 1998 Hollywood comedy Dirty Work, directed by Bob Saget, where he played one of two friends who launch a revenge-for-hire business. The film was a box-office flop, but found a cult following when it was released on home video.

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Later in his career, he would host his own Netflix talk show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show, and voice the character of Pigeon on Mike Tyson Mysteries.

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