I’m probably twice his height, but Michael Lifshitz is a bigger man than me. For those of you who are newer to Ottawa’s comedy scene, you may not be familiar with one of our greatest talents. In fact, if you only started coming around to comedy over the last two years, it’s extremely likely that you’ve missed out on Michael. I entered stand up at a time of my life that I was struggling, and stand up without question helped me through some troubled times. Working with and watching Michael overcome much bigger challenges than I’ve ever faced, with a positive attitude and a steely determination, has had a massive impact on my approach to life.
Michael, if you don’t know, suffers from severe musculoskeletal abnormalities or some shit, making access to public areas challenging or impossible, including both of Ottawa’s lovely comedy clubs (although Yuk Yuk’s will soon be accessible). I enjoyed both venues as well as all of the weird other restaurants, legions or theatres that I’ve been able to perform in. I can hardly conceive of not being able to do a thing I love so much as a result of not being able to physically access the performance venues. When Yuk’s was on the rooftop patio in Little Italy Michael and I discussed somehow hoisting him up to the roof but that didn’t work out.
Aside from accessibility struggles, I have seen Michael stare down other garbage. The first time I was actually massively inspired by Michael was in the 2014 Summer Comedy Competition, when in an early round Michael showed up and told us his his van had just been stolen. Someone stole a van that was custom set up for Michael, and he came into the club and had an incredible set. He came in second that night by half a point or something, just barely losing to Jimmy Cassidy who went on to win that year. I was so impressed, I couldn’t believe the balls on this guy.
The effort that Michael would put into physically getting up on the stage was incredible, never mind what it took to walk down the two flights of stairs into the club, but for years he just kept going. Dude kept busting his ass getting on stage to perform for mostly but not always appreciative audiences. One night Michael parked his wheelchair outside the door to Yuk’s just as he usually did, and performed for a Christmas party. One of the Christmas party patrons, out front for a smoke, decided he would urinate on Michael’s wheelchair. Again, this shit is almost inconceivable to me as a thing that any human would have to ever deal with. The company owner apologized as did the guy and it was cleaned professionally and all but like that didn’t stop Michael either.
He kept coming around, performing and making people laugh and be happy. I got to host the final of the 2019 Mike MacDonald Summer Comedy Competition which Michael went on to win. Member of Parliament Catherine McKenna and I presented him with the trophy, and that remains a highlight of my comedy career. After this Michael basically couldn’t do the stairs any more, which meant that I didn’t get to perform with, or see him perform until I did two of his Collaborative Comedy Competition shows at CoBrie which were very fun. We decided to see how a monthly professional show would work at that location, as they’ve been so great and supportive, and here we are producing a show this Saturday, September 18 at CoBrie in Carlingwood. I hope that we can get support and that this show will continue. It is a pro show and all spots will be paid proportionally to the ticket sales.
I’m not saying come and see Michael because he’s super inspirational. Come see Michael and the rest of us because he’s very funny. Our first show is The Horrible Show, it’s dark and dirty and I’m really looking forward to hearing what Michael has to say and I want him to say it to a bunch of people. Purchase tickets at trivialamusements.com please.
Show starts at 7:30. Please arrive by 7:00.
CoBrie Restaurant and Catering
2121 Carling Ave - around the backside of Carlingwood Shopping Centre