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Canadian standup comedian Mike MacDonald dies from heart complications

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  • 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


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    Arts

    Come hear some talented & budding musicians at the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts!

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  • Red Deerians are invited and encouraged to attend the Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts which begins Monday, April 9 and runs until April 20, 2018!

    “We would love to have people join our audience some time over the next two weeks,” says Ashley Miller, Director, Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts. “Those who choose to attend will enjoy high quality performances which culminate a year of practice by student performers. Also when you attend you encourage our community’s youth as they develop their talents.”

    Approximately 1,000 student performers from Central Alberta are registered to perform at the Festival in 10 disciplines: voice, choir, piano, strings, orchestra, bands, woodwinds, brass, musical theatre, guitar and speech arts. Most performers are youth, starting as young as five years old, although age of participants spans all the way to 65. Those who attend will enjoy select sessions that include solo work, group work such as choirs or bands, and small and large ensembles including duets, trios and bigger groups.

    This is the 55th annual Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts, formerly known as the Kiwanis Music Festival. More than 90 volunteers will be assisting with the event. Also, community organizations and businesses have contributed more than $55,000 to the event. Combined with student registration fees, these funds pay for adjudicators who travel to Red Deer to provide feedback and encouragement to the performers. Funds also pay for facility costs at Sunnybrook United Church and Red Deer College.

    “We are incredibly grateful for the support of so many in our community,” says Alison Weir, Board Chair, Red Deer Festival of the Performing Arts. “All of our volunteers and donors make such a difference for students and for our whole community. We are grateful for their contributions. A Festival like ours is incredibly valuable because it provides an opportunity for performance, constructive criticism and observation of other performers, all of which help our students grow. Our festival contributes to the
    cultural strength of Red Deer and to our community’s quality of life.”

    In addition to many sessions, there are two culminating showcases that may be of interest to Red Deerians. The Musical Theatre Showcase runs April 20 at Red Deer College’s Arts Centre. The Performer’s Showcase is on April 28 at Sunnybrook United Church. For more information about the Festival, including information about sessions and where they are held, please visit the festival website: www.reddeerkiwanisfestival.org


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    Cultural non-profits, heads up! Applications soon to be accepted for Community Culture Development Fund

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  • The City of Red Deer will accept applications for the 2019 Community Culture Development Fund grant program starting May 15, 2018. The program provides financial support to not-for-profit organizations that deliver arts, culture and heritage initiatives in Red Deer. Grant funds are intended to assist organizations to build their capacity to provide a service, manage a cultural facility, act as an umbrella organization for other cultural organizations, develop new cultural programs and services or to host a special event or festival.

    The Culture Development category provides funding for up to three years while the Culture Opportunities category offers support for short notice and/or one-time costs.
    “Our community’s unique culture is conveyed through artistic expression, creative citizens, public art, natural and built heritage features, cultural heritage, festivals, special events, and more,” said Tara O’Donnell, Culture Superintendent. “The Community Culture Development Fund is designed to support these initiatives and build the kind of vibrant community that Red Deerians have expressed is important to them.”

    Applications for the Culture Development category for the 2019 funding year will be accepted from May 15 to June 30, 2018. In previous years, the application deadline was December 15. Moving the deadline to June will allow successful applicants to receive funds in January rather than April of the funding year. This is a permanent change to the intake dates for the program. Applications for the Culture Opportunities category for the 2019 funding year will be accepted from May 15, 2018 until the funds have been expended. This change is for the 2019 funding year only, to encourage community projects connected to the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

    Interested groups are invited to attend an optional information workshop on Tuesday, May 15 that will outline the grant application and reporting process. The workshop will be held from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Culture Services (3827 39 Street). Please RSVP to 403-309-4091 or culturemailbox@reddeer.ca by Friday, May 11.

    For more information and to access funding application forms, visit http://www.reddeer.ca/recreationand-culture/arts-and-culture/culture-in-the-community/community-culture-grants/.


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