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Remembering the King of Canadian comedy

It was a night of laughs and remembrance March 24, as the Crackup The Capital Festival finale gala was held at the Algonquin Commons Theatre.

The evening to commemorate laughter had a sad side, as on March 17, Canadian comedy legend Mike Macdonald died from heart complications, at the age of 62.

MacDonald had been scheduled to host the finale but instead the show became his In Memoriam, and the comedians honoured him in the best way they could: making people laugh.

Hosted by emcee and and comedienne-in-residence for the festival, the hot-pink-and-bedazzled Rachelle Elie was a perfect antidote for the show’s somewhat inevitable somber tone, reminding everyone that this was a night for celebration of MacDonald’s legacy.

Opening with a moving tribute to the late MacDonald, the show screened a trailer for the upcoming documentary on the late comedian “The Mike Stand” which chronicles his nearly 40 years in comedy, his impact on the comedy scene, and his battles with bi-polar disorder and his 2011 bout with Hepatitis-C.

Rounding out the performance came the musical stylings of Tony Quinn, Toronto comedian Leonard Chan who is unfortunately not a doctor to his parent’s dismay, and Adrienne Fish with her big hair and even bigger attitude.

Additionally the winners of Yuk-Yuk’s comedy competition, Kamar Babar and Jen Hayward showed they could crack a joke with the best of them.

The gala’s “dark-horse” performance came from Chesterfield Nunavut — population a wopping 405 people — Igupttaq Attut, but you can call him Peter, or Mr. Bumblebee. The hardened nine-week comedy veteran and winner of the FirstAir Iqaluit Comedy Competition still manages to remain humble even after all this time.

“Even tonight, I’m looking over at everyone and I can’t believe I’m here performing with this caliber. I don’t know if I should be here,” said Autut, “but obviously someone does, and I’m so grateful.”

It’s hard to blame Autut for being star-struck, because headlining this stellar contingent of jokesters was rural comedian Derek Edwards. A self described “ordinary working guy” comedian, Edwards excels at making the ordinary the extraordinary, like making Ottawa’s many one-way streets into the inescapable hell-scape they oft-times feel like.

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