Although it’s now been four years since Peterborough-based performer Paul O’Sullivan died in a tragic car accident, his memory lives on in the annual fundraiser in his name that sold out a month ago.
“Paul’s Left Ball Fore!” is the fourth annual fundraiser for Hospice Peterborough and features an all-star lineup of national and local improv comedians.
Originally scheduled to take place at The Gordon Best Theatre, where Paul and Ray Henderson changed Peterborough’s improv landscape with the legendary “Impros vs. Joes” series, the venue was soon changed to the Market Hall to accommodate the demand for tickets.
It’s no wonder the event sold out so quickly. Led by Paul’s wife Linda Kash, a celebrity in her own right, the line-up includes some of Canada’s best improv comedians: Lisa Lambert, Debra McGrath, Patrick McKenna, and Colin Mochrie. And no improv event would be complete without Peterborough’s own The Citiots Improv, featuring Danny Bronson, Kate Ethier, Kenn Gibb, Ray Henderson, Paul Nabuurs, Andrew Root, and Daniel Smith.
“This event is getting bigger every year,” Linda says. “I’m so excited about the cast, both the new and the veterans. It just goes to show Paul was and is adored.”
An accomplished actor, comedian, writer, and director, Paul would have turned 52 years old on April 4th. It was almost four years ago — on May 28, 2012 — that Paul died when his car hit a flat-bed truck parked on the shoulder of County Road 507 near his home outside Peterborough. He left behind Linda and their three daughters.
A highly respected and accomplished performer, Paul was a graduate of the famed Second City comedy troupe and performed improv with such well-known comedians as Martin Short, Colin Mochrie, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, and Chris Farley.
During his career, Paul appeared in Canadian television shows like Little Mosque on the Prairie, An American in Canada, Getting Along Famously, Murdoch Mysteries, The Sean Cullen Show, and Improv Heaven and Hell. He performed on stage in Toronto productions like The Producers and The Drowsy Chaperone.
In 2009, Paul and Linda founded The Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts to provide high-quality drama education for both children and adults. Linda continues to operate the academy, which teaches scriptwriting, musical theatre, and improv comedy.
Paul’s sudden passing in 2012 shocked Canada’s theatre and comedy communities. After learning of his death, those who knew Paul couldn’t say enough about his contribution and his character.
“Paul was the quintessential Second City performer and writer,” said Andrew Alexander, Second City’s CEO. “He was quick-witted, and fast on his feet. But there was a sweetness about him that really came through as well.”
“He was an extraordinarily funny man,” said Klaus Schuller, producer at Second City in Toronto. “But he was also such a generous, caring, giving person to work with. It was a joy to see him walk in the room. The enthusiasm he had for the work was really just exceptional.”
“He was fearless and that was the thing that left most of us in awe,” said Colin Mochrie, who performed with Paul at Second City. “When you improv’d with Paul, you knew you’d get more than you ever imagined. He improv’d like he lived life. He made strong choices, and he committed to them. He taught me a lot.”He was an extraordinarily funny man. But he was also such a generous, caring, giving person to work with.
“He was one of the most generous human beings you would have met,” said local improv artist Ray Henderson, who often worked with Paul. “He was a very giving person and gave so many people the opportunity to express themselves on stage. He gave them confidence. He impacted a lot of people.”
“Aside from being such an exceptional artist, I don’t know if I ever saw a man who loved his family as much,” said family friend Kim Blackwell. “He was an incredible father and husband.”
Every year since his death, Paul’s wife Linda and his friends and colleagues have hosted the annual fundraiser to celebrate Paul’s life while raising funds for Hospice Peterborough.
The Joe Blow Show
Here’s a taste of Paul’s talent from a 2003 comedy pilot about a fictitious theatre company that does musicals about real people, created by Paul, Linda Kash, and Allan Novak for The Comedy Network.