In memory of
December 25, 1938 -
February 23, 2023
Michael Nemiroff sprang onto the scene on December 25, 1938, in Kingston, Ontario. The first-born son of Ralph Nemiroff and Rose Abramsky, he was raised in Montreal, where he became a skilled, but “chippy” hockey player and, against all odds, a lifelong Habs fan.
Michael brought excellence to everything he was interested in. He won the Math prize in high school and went on to study Math and English at Concordia University, eventually pursuing a PhD in Restoration Literature at Ohio State University. Mike had a wonderful ear for music; in his mid-20’s, he co-founded the 5th Dimension Folk Club in Montreal, hosting such greats as Mississippi John Hurt, Thelonious Monk, and the young McGarrigle Sisters, and studied jazz guitar with Bill Coon. Later in life, Michael taught himself to play his favorite instrument – the trumpet - and spent many joyful moments playing music with groups, including the Swansea Band. Michael married Diana Wilson in 1968 and became the loving father of Noah and Samantha.
After a twenty-year career teaching English Literature at Concordia University and Vanier College, Mike shocked his kids by deciding to turn his incisive wit and creativity to stand-up comedy. After slogging it out in the trenches of open mic nights at the Comedy Nest in Montreal, the ice storm of 1998 trapped Mike in Toronto, where he met his future wife, Elaine Smookler, performing on the same bill at Yuk Yuks. This magical moment inspired him to quit teaching, move to Toronto, and turn his attention to stand up, and Elaine, full-time. After one date, the couple were inseparable, and remained each other’s biggest, most devoted fans for the next 24 years. Mike eventually became a headliner, toured across Canada, and played Massey Hall. He also created the most glorious gardens, which brought joy to all his neighbors.
Michael’s playfulness, brilliance, kindness, and razor-sharp wit were beacons for everyone he met. With his passing, the world has lost a great one.
Michael is survived by his brother Don Nemiroff, his sister Nina Wilansky, his children Noah and Samantha Nemiroff and his wife, Elaine Smookler.