Mr. MacDonald was born on June 21, 1954, in Metz, France, the son of a career Canadian Air Force officer, and grew up on military bases around the world until his father retired and settled in Ottawa.
He began his career as a drummer and got his start in comedy in the 1970s at an Ottawa punk-rock nightclub, the Rotters Club, before moving to Toronto.
Over the years Mr. MacDonald spoke candidly about his battles with drug abuse and bipolar disorder. (Speaking of his mental illness in his act, he said, “There’s only two kinds of comedians: undiagnosed and diagnosed.”) And in a Facebook post in 2012, he announced that he had been told that he had hepatitis C and that the disease had caused his kidneys to shut down.
He received a liver transplant about five years ago and became an advocate for organ donations, weaving mention of it into his act.
“I have a bit in my act about the top three uses of the internet,” he said at the time. “No. 3: hate-mongering. No. 2: the downloading of free music. And the top one is porno. But something like this, this is what the internet was intended for: to help people, to pass on information, the positive things in life.”
In addition to his brother, a singer who performs under the name Johnny Vegas, Mr. MacDonald’s survivors include his wife, Bonnie.