From an early age, Cameron MacDonald knew that life was going to be different.
His father, comedy writer Rob MacDonald, was always introducing quirky, new characters at the family's dinner table.
"The first thing I heard about was Annekenstein," laughs Cameron, recalling his father and fellow cast members donning red braids and straw hats for the comedy show.
Written by MacDonald and David Moses in 1991-97, it's described as "a lovingly lampooning satire of Anne of Green Gables and all things P.E.I."
The show was such a huge part of his family life that one Halloween Cameron dressed up as Annekenstein.
"I didn't realize what it was. I also didn't understand what my father did. At one point I thought everyone's dad was a part of Annekenstein . . . Boy, was I ever wrong," says Cameron, with another laugh.
Most days, it was an asset to have a funny father.
"Every day he would do something funny and I would always look forward to it. He'd make my friends laugh the most. At first they would be intimidated by his tall stature. Then, he'd make a few jokes and they'd like him a lot.
"So it just became a humorous lifestyle," says Cameron, who is following in his father's footsteps this summer.
He's one of the new performers in the Popalopalots. Using material made up on the spot from audience suggestions, the improv show stars MacDonald with Graham Putnam, Dylan Miller, Jordan Cameron, Ben Hartley, Justin Shaw and Cameron. It plays Saturdays until Aug. 25 at The Guild, at 9 p.m.
Cameron couldn't be happier with the gig.
"I'm pretty excited about it. I've had some performance experience, but nothing like this," says Cameron, who has previously performed in Colonel Gray High School's production of Geppetto & Son.
Whether his interest came by genetics or osmosis, it's no surprise to his father.
"From an early age, Cameron was interested in making funny videos and funny sketches, like his father. I twigged early on that he had a talent so I kept nurturing that, helping him to find his own place," says MacDonald.
Then a few years ago the teenager got his first taste of improv at The Alibi in Charlottetown, where his father performed in comedy shows.
"Cameron would come out with some of his friends. He started learning all the different games there. Then he and his friends started an improv group in high school," says MacDonald.
He's proud of his son's creative talent.
"Cameron was also involved with The Suspenders, UPEI's improv group last semester. He's good at creating characters. So, when we went looking for new blood to perform with The Popalopalots, he seemed a natural choice," says MacDonald.
What's it like to share the stage with his son?
"It can be odd sometimes because you never know what the scene is going to be about. With seven adult minds working together, the conversation can get a little suggestive ... So I'm battling between being a father and a funny guy. Usually the funny guy wins," says MacDonald.
In the eyes of Karyn MacDonald, both men are winners.
As MacDonald's wife and Cameron's mother, she attends every performance.
"I'm so proud of both of them. It's so exciting to see. I'm just so happy to be there to cheer them on and laugh," Karyn says.
Cameron, who is happy to have his mother's support, is realistic about his capabilities.
"It's important to realize that every time you go on stage, it's not going to be a success. You have to accept that. And the sooner you accept that, the better you're going to get," he says.
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.