News of his passing was confirmed by many friends and colleagues on social media. The cause of death hasn't been confirmed, but MacDonald had struggled with health issues in recent years. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2011 and had a liver transplant in 2013, after which he returned to performing.
MacDonald was born in France but his family eventually settled in Ottawa. He got into standup comedy in his 20s and went on to have a successful comedy career. He also did acting, including the 1987 crime comedy Mr. Nice Guy and the CBC sitcom Mosquito Lake. He accrued many other film credits over the years.
MacDonald was also a mental health advocate who had bipolar disorder and battled drug addiction. Below, read some of the tributes that have been posted to social media.
Sad to hear of the passing of Mike Macdonald. One of the greats of stand up comedy, a Canadian from my hometown of Ottawa, and a friend. Rest in Peace Mike. Say hello to Carlin and Pryor for us. I'm sure you are already making them laugh up there. https://t.co/cF21y1YAoo— Tom Green (@tomgreenlive) March 18, 2018
The great Mike MacDonald has passed away. We thank Mike for his many contributions to comedy around the world and in Canada. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/Ix7AD4Ff4y— Canada Laughs (@canadalaughs) March 17, 2018
So sad to hear about Mike MacDonald. I had the pleasure of performing with Canadian comedy legend a couple times. Once at a @justforlaughs gala and recently when I performed in Ottawa(his hometown). On both occasions he was pure class and funny as hell. RIP https://t.co/SopbUQEugo— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) March 18, 2018
It is with great sadness we share the news that legendary Canadian comedian Mike MacDonald has passed away.— Halifax ComedyFest (@HfxComedyFest) March 17, 2018
We loved having Mike on our stage and as part of our #HFXComedyFest family for so many years. pic.twitter.com/ouFljd9My0
I am pained to inform you that my friend and comedy mentor Mike MacDonald has passed away. Mike was a ferociously funny man. We shared so many good times. Thanks for taking me under your wing way back in the day. You were a great comic. You did your country proud. 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/G4LGUHD126— Jeremy Hotz (@JeremyHotz) March 18, 2018
Quick thread:— kevin BANNER (@BannerComedy) March 18, 2018
Comedian Harry Doupe once told me a story about a club in San Francisco that was wary about bringing in an unknown (in America ) Mike MacDonald, no matter how many times his agent pitched him.
Thread on the kind, intense, uncompromising and hilarious, Mike MacDonald. As @misslaracomedy, here with me now, says, through tears, "He treated every show like it really mattered, every one." R.I.P. https://t.co/GgqrGrEf8M— Tabatha Southey (@TabathaSouthey) March 18, 2018
We are so saddened to hear of the passing of comedy legend Mike MacDonald. He was a dear friend and influence on comics new and old will not be forgotten. Much love to his family and friends. Thanks for the laughs Mike, you will be missed greatly. pic.twitter.com/9uT8iqXsE3— Yuk Yuk's (@yukyuks) March 18, 2018
I remember watching Mike MacDonald on Just for Laughs and how hard he made my mom laugh talking about his cat and a can opener. Every Canadian comedian watched him growing up. He was a sweet man with an amazing wit. I'm heart broken. You will be missed RIP Mike 💔 pic.twitter.com/CjXBe9AXWa— Kathleen _ McGee (@Kathleen_McGee) March 18, 2018
RIP to Mike MacDonald, a true legend of Comedy, a master of his craft, and a loveable curmudgeon. He will be missed— K Trevor Wilson (@KTrevorWilson) March 18, 2018
RIP Mike Macdonald...should have been bigger.— Mike Bullard (@MikeBullard1010) March 18, 2018
Mike MacDonald was the first comedian I ever saw on television. I couldn't believe anyone could be that funny. When I met him in person he was just as funny and also a genuine, kind and caring human being. I hope we can all love something as much as Mike loved comedy. RIP— Ivan Decker (@ivandecker) March 17, 2018
#MikeMacDonald has passed away. A true giant of comedy & pioneer of Canadian stand-up success. Worked with him just once, found him classy, friendly & generous with his time. More stand-ups should follow his example. RIP Mike.— Ed the Sock (@EdtheSock) March 18, 2018
Comedy fans know that Mike MacDonald was one of the first and truly funny stand-ups in this country. Just heard he passed away today. RIP Mike MacDonald.— Danko Jones (@dankojones) March 18, 2018
Saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend and Canadian comedy legend Mike MacDonald. Over the years he has graced our stages more than any other comic and will be greatly missed. #RIPMike pic.twitter.com/YES7PayNSp— Just For Laughs (@justforlaughs) March 18, 2018