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Old 10-18-07, 02:43 PM   #1
Dan The One Man Band
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Default Michael Carl O'Neil

A friend is remembered...

Forwarded From Jeff Collins' Tribute

The Busker Community has suffered a great loss this week with the passing of Michael Carl O’Neil. Michael died peacefully in his sleep yesterday morning (Oct. 17). Those who worked with Michael will remember his for his brilliant antics as a living statue or as Charlie Chaplan. Those who knew him well will remember him as a loyal and devoted friend. Michael was an innovative performer who was constantly coming up with new ideas and characters to add to his repertoire. His work provided inspiration to many of us in the industry and put smiles on the faces of millions around the world during his more than 30 years of performing. What many didn’t know was that Michael had to overcome severe personal difficulties in order to make his way through life. He was epileptic and suffered from seizures on a regular basis… a fact that he kept secret for many years in fear that it would discourage some producers from hiring him. His epilepsy also posed problems for him socially as he was unable to attend many of the late night activities at festivals and events for fear that the lack of sleep would trigger an episode. Often this would get mistaken as a sign of snobbery on his part when in fact it was simply a necessity of his condition. He was also severely dyslexic. Reading for Michael was a huge difficulty and he relied heavily on books on tape to provide him with his research. Despite this, he was one of the most eloquent speakers I know and was better read than most of his peers. The fact that he was able to travel around the world on his own and to work in so many countries is a testament to the drive and determination he had to succeed despite his downfalls. I truly admired him for that.

Michael’s favorite quote comes from Shakespeare:

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.
As You Like It, Act 1, Scene

One of my favorite quotes comes from Michael:

“We left them smiling. Our job is done.”

Our hearts and thoughts are with his family and friends in this time of need.

Michael will truly be missed.

Jeff Collins
Artistic Director
The Halifax International Busker Festival
Still with all original members!
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Old 10-18-07, 06:11 PM   #2
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Aw damn.

I worked with Michael many times and he always will be remembered by me as an incredibly hard working, dedicated, soft spoken (but passionate) entertainer. He was also a total gentleman.

I took this picture of Michael in Singapore almost 10 years ago, November 1997:

It was raining harder than I've ever seen it rain and all the performers and some audience members were standing around under an awning waiting for the weather to break. It was a pretty gloomy scene, but Michael jumped into character and went out into the hurricane-like downpour and did about 15 minutes to the delight of everyone. His Tramp was spot on and the rain just added a wonderful cinematic touch to everything he did. It was a fantastic, spontaneous performance.

That's how I will remember Michael... Soaked in the warm Singapore rain, makeup running down his face, suit and hat sopping wet, making everyone laugh... not because he had to, not for the money (we weren't even allowed to pass the hat) but just because he loved to do it and he was brilliant at it.

Rest in Peace, Michael.
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Old 10-19-07, 02:51 AM   #3
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I first met Michael at Edmonton in '91 and enjoyed a particularly memorable day during the Festival doing anachistic 3-4 minute spots to the crowds in the bleachers waiting for the "Klondike Days" parade. Karl Roth, Alan Lovett, Michael and I went out on a day where the street performers generally waited until the parade was over before playing.

We totally kicked arse as we worked the crowds waiting for the parade. It is something I'll remember for ever. Despite the dyslexia Micheal and I exchanged letters (it was before email) for years after.

My heart goes out to his family and friends but it is just that little bit weaker for the loss.

Vale, Michael, may the joy you've given travel with you.
Every-one should watch their drawers!

Last edited by Peter Voice; 10-20-07 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 10-19-07, 10:12 AM   #4
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I met Michael 2 years ago at Capital Ex.
He did a bit with the Tramp where he'd find a half empty (or full depending on your take on things) water or soda and go over to a garbage can and pour it in the can from his crotch area.
It was neat to see the double takes people would give him in that split second before they realize what is going on.
He was a top-notch performer and a nice man.

and, because he was a very open dyslexic with a great sense of humor, I'll type this again for him...

Y tem Mlchiea 3 reasy goa ta pltaiCa Xe.
Eh did a tib thiw eth Tprma erhwe eh'd nifd a fhla pytme ( or full depending on your take on things) tware ro doas dan og vreo ot a rgabgea nac nad ruop ti ni het nac morf sih tcorhc reaa.
Ti saw tena ot ese het boulde etaks plepoe louwd vige imh ni hatt tilps conesd foreeb heyt eliearz thaw si niggo no.
Eh saw a pot tonhc formerep nad a ceni nam.

Rest well
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Old 10-20-07, 03:19 AM   #5
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What a shock.

I always had a great time with Michael and found him to be a very intense but gentle man always dedicated to his art.

My memory of Michael that impressed me most was the finale of a late night madness show in Edmonton I directed that was dedicated to the memory of Wayne Condo.
Michael was to come out solo for a melancholy little tramp tribute to Wayne and then we would all join him.

5 minutes before his entrance he wasn't in the wing. I tracked him down and he was in his dressing room in his underwear listening to a tape on headphones.

I said, "Michael! you're on stage in 4 minutes!" With a look of horror on his face he jumped up and started to dress. I went back to the stage to figure out a way to delay the show.

To Michael's credit he somehow got dressed and in makeup and hit his cue exactly on time. He delivered a pitch perfect poignant performance that had people in tears.

A pro to the end. I'll miss him.
everybody's fool
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Old 10-20-07, 11:11 PM   #6
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For those who haven't had the experience of working with Michael, or didn't know that he was running for president:

I'm glad I got to spend a lot of time with him in Edmonton this past summer. A fine gentle soul he was. Hope He's having some fine talks with Charlie wherever he is.
Best to all - Ed
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Old 10-25-07, 01:12 PM   #7
martin ewen
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When Michael dissapeared inside himself, put his shit on and went out into the zone the universe spoke through him and surprisingly the universe has impeccable timing and is profoundly funny.
Who would of thunk.
Thanks Michael.
But to be honest it's hard work being an intense wounded genius with questionable standards of hygene.
Michael worked hard and there was a photo taken this last Edmonton of Michael in the pool. I thought it was exceptional at the time.
Shelley, do you have a copy from press clippings?
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