As there are still no shows on my horizon yet, I thought I’d write about an event that happened to me a few years ago. It was August of 2014 to be exact, I was given the opportunity to work for two weeks worth of shows with Mike MacDonald, the King of Canadian Comedy. To say Mike was a hero of mine would be to put it mildly, of any Canadian Comic I had grown up watching, Mike was one of the best, I had even tried to get in to see his TV show “Mosquito Coast” when it was being taped, but sadly I couldn’t get my friends to commit and they were interested in only having groups of people instead of just me alone. But I digress, here I was getting to tour with Mike for two weeks and very excited and also relieved, as Mike had just gone through a health scare having Hepatitis C and losing his liver and having to have a transplant, which he managed to get. So now he wanted to get back on the road and perform and the fellow I was working with (whom I will just identify by his initials M.S.) offered him two weeks of shows here in the Maritimes, which he accepted.
So here I am, going to be performing with Mike and going on the road for two weeks around the Maritimes and I was really excited. One of the shows we were performing was going to be in Saint John, NB which was being promoted by a local comic there we will identify as T.P. (for The Promoter) as he and I are very good friends now and I don’t want this story to paint them in a bad light. There were notices going up online promoting the show, but my name wasn’t listed as appearing on the show, which I pointed out to M.S., but I was told “don’t worry about it, you’re going to be on the show.” And then other acts appeared on the notices as being added to the show, and again, my name wasn’t included and again I was told “don’t worry, you’re on the show.”
When Mike arrived in Halifax on the 7th I was asked to pick him up from the airport as M.S. wasn’t able to, and I was told ahead of time “Don’t expect Mike to be super friendly, that’s not who he is, he will be quiet and keep to himself so don’t think you’ve done anything wrong.” Because M.S. knew what I was like he had to warn me of that early on, which I appreciated as he was exactly that, very quiet, said only what he needed to say and that was it. We ended up driving that afternoon to Yarmouth for the first show of the tour, then the next morning we drove all the way across the province to Sydney for show #2, and then back to Halifax. For the first three days of the tour, I felt like I really disappointed Mike and when I was alone with M.S. I mentioned that perhaps it was in his best interest if I were just left home and not included on the rest of the tour, but M.S. would have none of that and told me to just relax and stop being so over sensitive.
The day before Saint John we were in Sussex, NB and we performed at a great place called Four Seasons which is a combination restaurant and motel, and after the show there were 6 young guys who saw us standing outside our rooms and wanted to come to tell us how much they enjoyed the show, and how it had lifted their spirits because they’d just committed their friend at a mental facility earlier in the day because he’d been depressed and suicidal. Mike not only talked with them after the show, but was helping them with their friend’s problem and gave them some really good advice which I think made them appreciate coming to the show even more. It gave me some incite as to how strongly Mike advocated for Mental Health awareness as well.
Come the next day, we drove into Saint John and were trying to find the Hotel we were booked into, but at one point M.S. pulled over to the side of the road while we searched on Google Maps for where we were going, and it was at this point that M.S. wanted to tell us about an email exchange between himself and T.P. about me being on the show. In the email there was a bit of back and forth over my being on the show, but the one thing that was said by M.S. was “Well, I have to tell you that Carey and Mike have been performing together for the last 7 days, and they’re getting along really well, and I don’t think Mike will go onstage if Carey’s not in the show.”
My heart sank and I didn’t even want to look behind me into the back seat where Mike sat, I didn’t want to see the look on his face when he heard that M.S. had decided to speak for him in this matter and decide how Mike felt about it without asking. Why would he do that? Then I heard Mike’s voice from behind me and he said “That’s right. He doesn’t go on, then I won’t either.” Even now when I think about it, I get teary eyed and it took everything I could to not break down and cry right there at that moment. When you have low self esteem and someone speaks up for you like that, when someone you idolized and thought of as the King of Canadian Comedy has your back, how can you ever think you’re less than how you feel about yourself?
The show that night was amazing, I was scared that at one point I’d lost the recording of it, because it had been on my phone instead of my personal recorder I use to record my sets, but I found it already on my laptop having been transferred so I have a copy of that amazing show. After that show, we all had a great laugh in the van for the rest of the tour. Mike, who had been mostly keeping to himself and sleeping in the back on the drives, now was playing DJ and we were engaged in a game of “Name That Tune” where we had to guess the name of the band and/or the song he played. So far, that’s been one of the best memories of road trips so far in my career, and every time Mike came back and toured with us we went back to that game (when he wasn’t doing a mocking voice teasing M.S. which had me laughing so hard that I couldn’t see to drive, imagine that, dying from laughter.)
Now whenever I get down on myself and have a little pity party for one at home, I just have to remind myself that Mike MacDonald, the KING of Canadian Comedy, stood up for me. How can I ever believe I’m nothing when he felt at least I was someone. And even though I stopped working with M.S. afterwards, whenever Mike came to Halifax I always offered to meet up for lunch or dinner if he were interested, figuring he’d just beg off and not go, but every time he’d message me and say “Dinner, Thursday?” and we’d head out and eat, usually at his favourite Sushi place. We’d sit there and he’d tell me stories about his career, and once in a while we’d get into some absurd conversation and I would make him laugh. I made Mike MacDonald laugh. Let me say that again. I. Me. I made him laugh. Doesn’t matter what I end up doing for the rest of my life, I made Mike laugh.
I can’t ever forget that, and I never will.
Mike passed away in 2018, and although I was sad about it, I can say in all honesty that I was glad that having had such a near death experience in 2013, that he had 5 more years to enjoy his life and spend his time doing what he loved. And he never missed a call to Bonnie his wife every night. That’s a pretty great way to extend your life for 5 more years.