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

Nearly 25,000 people cast ballots in Chilliwack

Turnout 10,000 votes higher than in 2014

Popove pledges to work hard as new mayor of Chilliwack

Ken Popove to take the helm from incumbent Sharon Gaetz

Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

Incumbents Dan Coulter, Heather Maahs and Barry Neufeld join four new board members

Popove elected mayor in Chilliwack

Gaetz second, Waddington third; new faces on city council

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Fraser Valley man dead after head on crash in Okanagan

Accident occurred at about 7:35 a.m.

Newly-elected Lower Mainland mayor won’t drink his city’s tap water

White Rock’s Darryl Walker is concerned about its quality

Kennedy Stewart challenged with building bridges as mayor of Vancouver: expert

The former NDP MP, who ran as an Independent, will lead 10 councillors divided across four parties

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

Vees notch up another win

Undermanned Vees take down league-leading Chilliwack Chiefs

Most Read