The Canadian theatre and comedy communities are in mourning tonight after a tragic car accident took the life of Paul O’Sullivan (47), outside of Peterborough this weekend.
O’Sullivan was an actor, comedian, writer and director who began improvising with the Second City in Toronto in the early 1990s. He collaborated on four original shows there at Toronto’s Old Firehall and directed Old Wine, New Bottles and Pinata Full of Bees, for which he received one of his two Canadian Comedy Awards. He taught Improv for 15 years independently, at Peterborough Academy for the Performing Arts, at Second City and at Humber College and throughout that time he improvised with such hilarious folks as Colin Mochrie, Martin Short, Mike Myers, Ryan Styles, Sean Cullen, Tina Fey and Chris Farley, among others.
He was also a member of the Comedy Award Winning sketch troupe Skippy’s Rangers, which featured the talents of Bob Martin, Lisa Lambert and Jonathan Crombie. Skippy’s Rangers went on to appear on Comedy Now (CTV), Sketch.com (CBC) and several CBC radio productions and they were nominated for a Gemini Award.
On television O’Sullivan worked on George Shrinks, Little Mosque on the Prairie, Dan For Mayor and Puppets Who Kill, among others. He also directed the YTV sketch show for kids That’s So Weird. In the theatre he was best known for playing Franz in Susan Stroman’s production of The Producers and for originating the role of George Best, the Best Man, in The Drowsy Chaperone.
I saw Paul perform only once, in the Shehori Brothers’ extravaganza Stephen Harper: The Musical, and I remember that he was magnificent in it. I wish I had the opportunity to speak to him and to see him perform far more while I was living in Toronto because those who know him are remembering him today as being a lovely and wonderful man. The outpouring of grief, shock and profound sadness has been filling my newsfeed on Facebook all day and the words that keep coming up to describe him are “kind,” “generous,” “talented,” “funny” and “teacher.” Colin Mochrie tweeted earlier today, “Paul O’Sullivan was one of the funniest people I knew onstage and one of the kindest off. Rest in Peace, my friend.” Albert Howell said on his Facebook page, “The world just got less funny” and Bob Martin called Paul “one of the funniest men I have ever known.” It is clear that we have lost a bright light today who inspired so many to make people laugh.
O’Sullivan is survived by his partner, fellow stage actor Linda Kash, best known as the Philadelphia Cream Cheese angel, who is currently playing Aunt Bella in Harold Green Jewish Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers. This production has been suspended until Wednesday. The couple have three daughters.
I send all my deepest condolences to Paul’s family and his friends and much love and light during this dark and difficult time.
Colin Mochrie posted this video of O’Sullivan on the 2003 Comedy Network pilot The Joe Blow Show, which he developed with Kash and Alan Novak, on his Facebook page today. It will probably make you laugh.
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- Linda Kash