Canadian comedian Mike MacDonald entertains troops at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 1, 2008. (Alexander Panetta/The Canadian Press)

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 62

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

Mike MacDonald, a pioneer of the Canadian standup comedy scene, has died.

The longtime comedian died on Saturday afternoon from heart complications at the Ottawa Heart Institute, his brother J.P. MacDonald said on Sunday.

He was 62.

MacDonald was a regular on the Just for Laughs stage and also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and Arsenio Hall, and starred in multiple CBC and Showtime specials.

His brother said MacDonald loved nothing more than to make people laugh — something he discovered in high school.

“Obviously it’s easier in high school to make friends if you can make people laugh. But there was more to it than that. He was just really good at it, he was brilliant at it. It always just stuck wit him and that’s what he wanted to do,” said J.P. MacDonald, who is also known by his stage name Johnny Vegas.

MacDonald, who was also a gifted drummer, got his comedy start at an Ottawa punk rock club called the Rotters Club in the 1970s. He prepared a mountain of material: Three 45-minute comedy sets, which J.P. MacDonald noted may be standard for a music gig, but not a comedy one.

“If you try to tell that to young up-and-coming comedian today, I don’t think they’d be able to wrap their head around it, because most young comedians are working on their first five-minute routine,” he said.

“He was that creative, it just flowed from him. Over the years, he wrote hours upon hours of comedy routines and movie scripts and TV scripts. He was very proficient and gifted at his art,” J.P. MacDonald said.

Mike MacDonald kicked a drug-use problem in the late-1980s or early-1990s and had been clean ever since, his brother said. He received a liver transplant about five years ago and became an advocate for organ donations, weaving mention of it into as many sets as he could thereafter, J.P. MacDonald said.

As news of MacDonald’s death spread in the comedy world, social media tributes came pouring in.

“Mike MacDonald probably did more to popularize stand-up in Canada than anyone else of his generation. He inspired many comics in the 1980s & 90s to enter comedy. For most of us, sharing the stage with him for the first time was a really big deal,” writer and comedian Kliph Nesteroff tweeted.

“Respect must be paid. Thank you for the laughs, Mike. Thank you for the work ethic and being a real deal comic influencer,” Kathy Griffin tweeted.

Brent Butt, standup comedian and creator of “Corner Gas,” tweeted that the news left him numb.

“Spent so many nights (late80s/early90s) into the morning, playing cards & laughing ourselves sick. And fighting. Then laughing more,” he wrote.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Hundreds of tributes to the Ottawa-born comic poured out across social media:

More to come.

Just Posted

Saratoga Speedway celebrates its 50th opening night of racing May 5

In 1968 the central Vancouver Island communities and business came together to… Continue reading

Cumberland May Day Bean Dinner planned

Labour Minister Harry Bains as guest speaker at annual event

Draft plan for Union Bay coal hills remediation to be submitted this spring

West Fraser Mills is paying for the installation of an engineered membrane

Crowdfunding page created for family of Comox Valley man killed in Peru

A GoFundMe page has been created for the family of Sebastian Woodroffe,… Continue reading

Comox Valley’s living wage sees four per cent increase from 2017 – report

Advocacy groups say the Valley’s inflation rate was nearly double the provincial average

Canadian musician duets with ancestral Indigenous voices on debut album

Toronto’s Jeremy Dutcher has mixed his operatic tenor with his Wolastoq First Nation roots

COLUMN: Stanley Cup playoff second-round predictions

Sidney Crosby and the Penguins continue their quest for their third straight Stanley Cup

B.C. seeks court ruling on new pipeline regulations

Province wants to require permits for any new bitumen transport

LIVE: TSB findings on plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

The TSB will announce its findings and the Capital News will follow.

Former child watchdog to head UBC centre on residential schools

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead university’s Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre

Man dead after possible attack near Vancouver casino

A 38-year-old man with ‘serious injures’ was rushed to hospital but died in surgery

Toronto sports fans come together in wake of van attack

Police probe Toronto van attack as details emerge

Prince William to be Harry’s best man

Prince William will be Prince Harry’s best man at May wedding

Humboldt arena memorial ring to be removed

Arena ring of tribute to Saskatchewan hockey team to be removed as summer nears

Most Read