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Comedy in the Hammer: Zak McDonald

Comedy in the Hammer Hamilton Comedy


Hello! Welcome back to Comedy in the Hammer! Every week we sit down with a local comedian and let you know what shows are happening in the city this week!


This week we have something different. I spoke with Zak McDonald about his new comedy special, The Happiest Story I Know.


Zak McDonald Comedy Hamilton


MS: How long have you been doing stand up for?
ZM: I have been doing stand up for 5 years! I started performing when I was 20 years old a little while after high school and I haven’t looked back since!
MS: Tell us about your comedy special?
ZM: My comedy special is a really unique product. It’s called “The Happiest Story I Know” and exists somewhere between a one-man show and a traditional stand up special. It tells the story of me growing up poor, overcoming addiction after being a part of a threesome, and goes all the way to me travelling to India and eventually finding meaning in my story at an Easter Service at a Baptist church. It’s my heartbreaking and funny story of finding hope in suffering.


It was filmed by David Ross( in my living room to create a unique and intimate vibe.


It’s also the same show that I toured around Canada in 12 different living rooms across the country and it won the critics choice award and best of venue at the Hamilton Fringe Festival.
MS: Why did you decide to release it for free?
ZM: I decided to release it for a few reasons. Firstly we live in a time of intense greed right now. We can look to politics and corporations to find countless examples of systems and structures valuing money over people. In the wake of Donald Trump being elected president I made a strong commitment in 2017 to being more generous. I want to be generous with my time, money and art. I will not succumb to the idea that we never have enough.

Secondly, I’m inspired by artists that have produced free art. Chance The Rapper is a big role model of mine and he has released three mixtapes for free in the spirit of allowing people to be able to own and share art that they believe in. I want to reflect this. I think I have an important and universal message to send to people and I want to provide an opportunity for my comedy to spread through people that want to hear it.
MS: What’s your favourite room to perform at in the city?
ZM: Without a doubt Emerson Pub. It’s run SO well by two great comics (Jordan Scherer and Mayce Galoni.) I always find the audiences there to be smart and engaged. It’s an excellent place to be
MS: How do you usually deal with hecklers?
ZM: I learned how to deal with hecklers from Manolis Zontanos. I have watched Manolis deal masterfully with many hecklers by simply telling them that he loves them. When someone start talking Manoli will tell them that he loves them, make fun of them for a bit and that always restores order.

Often hecklers aren’t being mean they are just distracted or excited. If you rip them too hard you can lose the audience, if you are loving towards them you can create dynamic moments in the show while maintaining the respect of the rest of the audience
MS: What advice would you give newer comics?
ZM: I’d say to watch a lot of comedy. If you want to be a comedian you should be a comedy fan, study the history of stand-up. Figure out WHY Louis CK is good instead of trying to be like him.

After that set short term realistic goals and long term idealistic goals and hold yourself accountable to them.
MS: What’s the one joke you’ve tried over and over again to make work but whatever reason cannot get right?
ZM: I’ve once did this bit about how annoying people with cats are and it went really well. Every time I’ve tried it since I’ve just seemed like a guy who is mad at people for loving their cats and it is VERY unbecoming. It makes me out to be some kind of monster who hates joy. I should stop doing it.
MS: Where can we check you out online?
ZM: You can check me and my comedy special out at

I also make a weekly podcast called “I Hate That I’m Doing This” which can be found on iTunes and your podcast app!


Go check out his special and also see him headlining Hammer Night Live March 10th at the Staircase Theatre.


Hub of the Hammer Events puts on a few local comedy events throughout the city but what about the rest of them? There’s some great shows going on you might not know about so here’s what’s happening this week:


YukYuk’s Amateur Night

Wednesday, February 15th @ 9pm

Host: Patrick Coppolino

Venue: YukYuk’s Hamilton

Cost: $5


The Baltimore House Music and Comedy Show

Wednesday, February 15th @ 9:45 PM

Host: Kev Sheeler

Venue: Baltimore House, Hamilton

Cost: Free



Wednesday, February 15th @ 9pm

Host: Dan Peters

Venue: Cloud Nine, Hamilton

420 Friendly


The Comedy Gala

Monday, February 20th @ 9pm

Host: Isi Commisso

Venue: Gallaghers

Cost: Free


Emerson 109

Tuesday, February 21st @ 9pm

Host: Jordan Scherer

Venue: 109 Emerson St

Cost: Free


Tuesday, February 21st @ 9pm

Host: Dan Brennan

Venue: Lionshead Pub

Cost: Free


Matthew Surina Bruha Blogger

Matthew is the founder of Hub of the Hammer Event Planning. They help you plan your events (Social, corporate or fundraiser) using strictly local vendors and venues. If you’re looking to plan an event, reach out and check out their calendar for upcoming events!

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