PHOTOS: COURTESY YUK YUK’S OTTAWA
arts and entertainment by Michael Bussière
WHO KNEW IT WAS SO EASY TO LAUGH IN OTTAWA? W
hether it’s the House of Commons, or our Crazy Clown train, Ottawa’s always good for a laugh, especially to the rest of the country. Locally and internationally though, we have a lot to be proud of in the wonderful world of comedy. The two Macs, for instance. Mike MacDonald’s professional-grade class clownism tormented teachers at Brookfield High in the 1970s. When he wasn’t destroying a drum kit, he was provoking pants-wetting laughter with his insane improvisations and cartoon face. Late boomers may remember him playing power chords on a tennis racket air guitar in the basement of the Beacon Arms Hotel, or at some joint on Carling that’s been everything from a Chinese
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restaurant to the Church of Whoever. Mike headed to the U.S. where his career soared and led to an appearance on Letterman. Norm Macdonald was a true original. The native of Quebec City grew up in North Stormont and never fudged his Canuck accent while enjoying enormous success in the U.S. After a start in stand-up, Norm wrote for Roseanne and Dennis Miller. The big time came on Saturday Night Live, where he held the much-coveted host
spot on Weekend Update. He never looked back. Norm’s recent death at the age of 61, following a nine-year battle with cancer, inspired glowing tributes from fans and peers alike. Howard Wagman has owned Yuk Yuk’s Ottawa since the club opened in the early 1980s, and he’s launched the careers of the funniest who have graced his stage. Tom Green, Angelo Tsaruchas, Jeremy Hotz, Jon Dore, and Chris Finn owe him their start to fame. Norm Macdonald once did new talent
ABOVE: (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT) Mark Breslin with Howard and Tammy Wagman; Mike MacDonald with Howard Wagman and Mike Wilmot; Russell Peters, Howard Wagman, Dave Martin, Derek Supple and Dean; Mitch Muirhead and Howard Wagman; A young Howard Wagman; Jason Rouse, Dave Martin, Bill MacInstosh, Jon Dore and Howard Wagman.