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

Application hearing held for Discontent City case

Two-day petition hearing begins July 17

Summer of our Discontent: homeless camp a contentious issue

City of Nanaimo, tent city going to court this week to settle differences

Large suspected ammo found at Cassidy recycling facility

Area businesses voluntarily evacuated

Fires claim boat and travel trailer in Nanaimo

Nanaimo area firefighters come off busy weekend for fires with two fires Monday morning

Heat warning issued for Vancouver Island

Temperatures expected to cool down later this week

Firefighters rescue dog as two house fires happen at the same time in Nanaimo

House extensively damaged on Uplands Drive, coach house burns down on Haliburton Street

Silly boats make a splash on Nanaimo seas

Superette wins Nanaimo’s Silly Boat Regatta community fundraising event

Florist announces bid for Nanaimo city council

Jim Turley, former owner of Turley’s Florist, intends to run in fall election

VIDEO: Firefighters putting out brush fire in East Wellington

Fire is in the area of a new development under construction near Shady Mile Way

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

Motorcyclist dies as fire, crash happen at the same time on Nanaimo Parkway

Young male motorcycle rider collides with one vehicle, then struck by another

Most Read