Reviews - Fringe 2015

Fringe 2015 Review: The Happiest Story I Know

By Dawn Cattapan
Published July 20, 2015


When Zak McDonald opens his one-man show, The Happiest Story I Know, he is on stage with only microphone, a broken bicycle and $30 in his pocket. Early on, he makes it clear that everyone in the room is much richer than him. However, as his story progresses, it becomes apparent that this simply isn't true, and Zak is the richest of all.

The Happiest Story I Know is not a typical Fringe show, nor is it a typical one-person show. But Zak McDonald also never claims to be an actor. Instead, the local budding stand-up comedian offers up an hour of long-form comedy, where stories are told and jokes are made reminiscent of comedy greats Al Madrigal or T.J. Miller.

Standing with a microphone in hand and dressed in all black, Zak even resembles a comedian one may see at a club. The only thing missing at Mills Hardware was the brick wall directly behind him.

His stories don't always sound like the material for comedy, as Zak takes the audience through his troubled childhood, substance addiction - first of those around him, then his own - a failed (expensive) journey to India, his struggles to find a home, religion and a threesome.

However, Zak effectively channels his pain into laughter and encourages the audience to laugh along with him. And as Zak twists and turns his sadness into hilarity and weaves the happiest story he knows, it is easy to laugh along with him and agree.

In most cities, $10 to see a really great comedy show is a steal of a deal. And fortunately, through the generosity of the Fringe lottery, Zak McDonald has several shows left of The Happiest Story I Know where he will repeat his stand-up for that $10 price.

If you are a comedy lover, go and see it - it's not a traditional Fringe show, but it's a full-hour of great standup.

Dawn Cattapan is an arts management and communications professional who is currently working with Green Venture. The former Executive Director of the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra and Education Manager for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, she is particularly interested in the potential of the Hamilton arts community. In her spare time, Dawn is an active yogi, burrito aficionado and can be found on Twitter @dcattapan.

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