The Orville Wiki
The Orville Wiki

Norm Macdonald was a Canadian stand-up comedian, actor, writer and producer. He voiced the crew member Yaphit on The Orville, and appeared on screen as Yaphit's simulated-human avatar in the episode A Happy Refrain.

Macdonald passed away on September 14, 2021 after a nine-year private battle with cancer.[2]


The Orville[]

From the outset of the show, creator Seth MacFarlane wanted "utterly non-human" aliens for the show to more realistically portray futuristic, sentient life.[3] "It's a sci-fi show," he explained in July 2017. "And budgetary constraints mandate that sci-fi characters be humanoid. But if you talk to physicists they'll tell you, 'It's most likely nothing will look like a human if we find life in space.'"[3] MacFarlane sketched the character of Yaphit on paper, which was fleshed out by Howard Berger. The sketch became "a CGI character that is essentially a gelatinous blob with a sloppy mouth hole,"[4] and they needed a voice actor for the role.

Casting Norm Macdonald as Yaphit was remarkably easy and, it appears, without auditions. MacFarlane called Macdonald and asked, "Norm, you want to be a blob?" To which Macdonald replied, "Hell yeah, I'll be a blob."[5] MacFarlane called the casting process a "ten-second phone call" with Macdonald.[6]

During shoots, propmaster Bryan Rodgers placed a model of Yaphit with a microphone on stage[7][8] while MacDonald spoke his lines from a corner of the studio to the actors.[9]

Macdonald died on September 14, 2021 of cancer,[10] after filming of Season 3 had concluded but in the middle of its post-production, leaving Yaphit's status uncertain.


  • He spells his name with a lowercase 'd'
  • Seth insisted Norm appear in the studio to voice his lines rather than record them remotely because he believed the acting performance improves when the actor is immersed in the show's environment.[11]
  • He attended the same college as director Jon Cassar separated by one year.[12]

See also[]


  1. By playerx from laguna hills,ca, US - @darkdiscord with @norm_mac after the Irvine Improv Show, CC BY 2.0,
  3. 3.0 3.1 "How Seth MacFarlane Got Charlize Theron To Be On 'The Orville' | SDCC 2017 | Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly. July 26, 2017.
  4. Bond, Jeff. The World of the Orville. Titan Books. 2018. Pg. 67.
  5. "Seth Meyers Explains to Seth MacFarlane Why People Resent Him". Late Night with Seth Meyers. Sept. 8, 2017.
  6. "How Seth MacFarlane Got Charlize Theron To Be On 'The Orville' | SDCC 2017 | Entertainment Weekly". Entertainment Weekly. July 26, 2017.
  7. Bryan Rodgers self-identifies in this interview. Owen, Rob. "Tuned In: Seth MacFarlane readies his own ‘Star Trek’". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Aug. 7, 2017. The item is identified by Penny Johnson Jerald as a microphone in a separate interview. See Jordan DesJardines, "NYCC 2017: What’s Up Doc? Penny Johnson Jerald Talks ‘The Orville’", (Oct. 13, 2017).
  8. "The Orville Fan Podcast w/ Bryan Rodgers (23)". Planetary Union Network. Dec. 6, 2018.
  9. DesJardines, Jordan. "NYCC 2017: What’s Up Doc? Penny Johnson Jerald Talks ‘The Orville’". Oct. 13, 2017.
  10. France, Lisa Respers. "Norm Macdonald, comedian and 'Saturday Night Live' alum, dies at 61". CNN. Sept. 14, 2021.
  11. "MID LEVEL SPACE EXPLORATION feat. SETH MACFARLANE!!!". Harley Morenstein. Aug. 31, 2017.
  12. "PLANETARY UNION NETWORK: EPISODE 26". Planetary Union Network. Jan. 13, 2019.