If laughter is the best medicine, visiting the Dave Barber Cinematheque for a healthy dose of comedy from Kevin McDonald is the prescription.
McDonald, a Winnipeg resident and member of the iconic Kids in the Hall sketch troupe, hosts McDonald at the Movies, a monthly series showcasing irreverent films across all eras of cinema. The mix of laugh-out-loud comedy pictures and the occasional more serious pick have all influenced McDonald’s own brand of comedy.
The series has its roots in the nationally renowned Winnipeg Comedy Festival, when McDonald hosted a similar film program.
“About 10 years ago, we had partnered with the Winnipeg Comedy Festival for a series called the Kevinfest Film Festival,” Jaimz Asmundson, programming director at Cinematheque, says. “Kevin selected a handful of classic comedy films and introduced them much like he does now with the McDonald at the Movies series.”
“Not a lot of people came, but movie buffs were happy,” McDonald says.
The series may have flopped among the comedy crowd, but it wasn’t a lost cause. After crossing paths with late Cinematheque programmer Dave Barber, McDonald jumped on an opportunity to conduct monthly screenings at the theatre.
Curious audiences will benefit from McDonald’s extensive comedic-film knowledge, as the veteran showman brings veritable verve and vigor to his duties as cinema impresario.
“Kevin’s mind is a treasure trove of trivia regarding the history of comedy films and just film in general,” Asmundson says.
“He has a very animated and interactive way of introducing the films, which is worth the price of admission alone. From what I’ve seen, this series has been a great point of discovery for Winnipeg audiences to see classic work and learn about the production history.”
As for personal favourites, Asmundson cites the edition of McDonald at the Movies featuring a compilation of his Kids in the Hall sketches as a “blissful experience,” whereas McDonald’s is ever-changing.
“I would give you a different answer every week, because there are so many that I think are essential ... this week, A Night at the Opera. It’s sort of the greatest comedy movie ever. It’s got a story you sort of care about. The tone is totally irreverent ... when I was 10 or 11, it drove me crazy how good it was, how funny it was and how rebellious it was.”
With a wide range of motion pictures, from heartfelt classics Some Like It Hot and Singin’ in the Rain to more uncouth affairs like The Naked Gun and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, McDonald displays his passion for the films that made him the comedian he is today.
“They’re films that I love to watch. There’s never been a movie where I talk about the movie and not see it, and most of them I’ve seen a hundred times,” McDonald says. “I guess any movie that I’ve seen even over 10 times is a movie that influenced me. A lot of stuff influences me. I’m easily influenced. Don’t offer me drugs.”
The next McDonald at the Movies event will be held Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. McDonald will introduce Alexander Mackendrick’s The Man in the White Suit.
Published in Volume 77, Number 17 of The Uniter (February 2, 2023)