Forget the post-debate debating, and forget “Carpool Karaoke.” I just caught up with last night’s Late Late Show With James Corden, and Norm Macdonald, out promoting his new memoir, Based on a True Story, managed both to upstage the always-camera-eager Lea Michele and tease host Corden on his word choice. Oh, and Macdonald also worked in a reference to Vladimir Nabokov while calling Rob Lowe “a hot piece of a**.”
Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you. Watch this snippet to see how Macdonald works his talk-show mastery. It begins with Corden’s setting up Michele to talk about her recent 30th birthday, spent at Disneyland. But, very quickly, Macdonald slips in to tell a story about seeing Mickey Mouse — “who’s a big celebrity at Disneyland,” Norm explains — and Mickey’s interaction with a small child. When he’s finished, Corden describes Mickey has being nonplussed. Macdonald says, “He was not nonplussed — he was unaffected. Nonplussed means bewildered.”
From a less funny man, this would have seemed pedantic; from Norm, it was sneakily wonderful. (May I also add, Corden laughed appreciatively upon being corrected while Michele looked as though she’d missed something.) I wish I could show you the chunk of the interview in which Macdonald cites Nabokov as a literary influence and makes that startling remark about Rob Lowe’s allure, but CBS hasn’t yet made it available. Let me put it this way: By the time Norm got through with yet another story about seeing Michele’s Scream Queens co-star on Broadway, Michele just turned to Corden and said, “My story will not be funny now. Let’s just move on.” So great.
The Late Late Show With James Corden airs weeknights at 12:35 a.m. on CBS.