The longest-running "MADtv" cast member to date did not start out with such career aspirations. After graduating from Servite High School (located in his hometown of Fullerton, California), Michael McDonald pursued a business major at the University of Southern California. Once he received his business degree from USC, Michael accepted a job as a loan officer at a Los Angeles Bank. At one point, he even worked as a kindergarten assistant. In an interview that he granted years later, Michael referred to it as the toughest job he has ever had: "By midday, when the kids were taking their naps, I'd put my head on the desk and take one, too. I was exhausted." Michael does note, however, that some of the inspiration for his most famous "MADtv" character, Stuart, comes from those challenging experiences with the youngsters.
From such inauspicious beginnings, however, Michael would slowly find his way into show business. One night, a friend took him to a show at Los Angeles's famed Groundlings Theater. At the time, Michael was still employed as a loan officer; however, the sketch comedy and improv that he witnessed on that fateful night changed his life forever. Michael immediately quit his banking job to enroll in the Groundlings' improv program; from 1992 to 1997, he was a member of the legendary comedy troupe. He received his first professional acting and writing jobs through Concorde Pictures, the low-budget movie studio owned by the notorious "King of the Bs," Roger Corman. In some films, Michael served merely as an extra; still, according to Michael, even when he was given major roles, the film scripts themselves were so poorly written that he couldn't help thinking, "I may not be a good writer, but I'm no worse than whatever they're doing here." Once Michael began writing his own scripts, he was even given the chance to direct a couple of films. In fact, at one point in his career, he considered giving up acting altogether so that he could concentrate on writing and directing. As Michael watched his fellow Groundlings leave for "Saturday Night Live" and "MADtv," all the while receiving no such offers himself, he felt certain that he had made the right career move: "I just kind of said, 'I guess it's not going to happen for me,' and I gave up on it."
Ironically, once Michael gave up on his acting pursuits, the offers started rolling in. He tested for not only "Saturday Night Live" and "MADtv" but also a sitcom, all within the span of a week. In 1998, at the start of the show's fourth season, Michael at last became a "MADtv" cast member. Although he began Season Four of "MADtv" as a featured player, he was quickly bumped up to full cast member status. After eight seasons of performing and writing sketches on "MADtv," Michael finally got the chance to direct again as he stepped behind the camera for a few Season 12 episodes.
Michael also found plenty of outside projects to keep him busy during his "MADtv" tenure. In addition to his guest appearances on shows such as "Seinfeld" and "Ellen," Michael had a recurring role on "Scrubs" and was even granted the opportunity to direct a "Scrubs" episode in 2007 ("My Conventional Wisdom"). Among Michael's film credits are brief appearances in all three Austin Powers movies and a starring role in 2006's Moonpie, which also stars one of his former "MADtv" coworkers, Stephnie Weir. Michael even found time to do a little stage work: once again with Stephnie Weir, he starred in the Cape Playhouse production of A.R. Gurney's The Dining Room.
During Michael's tenth season on "MADtv" (Season 13), he was asked if he ever thought about leaving the series. "I'm always thinking about moving on," he admitted. "Some people say, 'Well you know, why don't you move on?' And believe me, I always look around; but right now in television, nobody's making comedy anymore. So it's one of the few good gigs." While Michael said that he definitely wanted to continue exploring entertainment options outside the parameters of sketch comedy, he still loved working on "MADtv." Ten years after being hired, Michael never seemed to be bored with the series that had been so good to him over the years: "We get to do different stuff every week, so the cure for 'aren't you tired of doing the same thing?' is kind of built into the show, that you get to do new things all the time." Sadly, however, the newness would eventually reach a limit that even Michael could not handle.
After the show's thirteenth season, Michael announced that his ten-year stay on "MADtv" had indeed come to a close. Although he did not give a specific reason for his abrupt departure, many fans suspected that the drastically different Season 13 format for the series, as well as the move to the Henry Fonda Theater that year, disheartened the veteran, who, like the other cast members, had a fondness for the show's old studio and its original, time-honored format. Even so, fans can take solace in the fact that this endlessly talented performed is now free to dedicate himself to those other aforementioned entertainment endeavors, which will surely come his way in droves. While fans will always miss the presence of the long-time "MADtv" cast member, who always seemed somehow synonymous with the series, rest assured that the comedy world certainly has not heard the last of Michael McDonald.
Official Website: http://www.dcimprov.com
Added by thedcimprov on April 28, 2009