Mikael – Thanks for making me laugh!

Mikael Rudolph and his Amazing Rock

MIKAEL JONATHAN RUDOLPH, 51, of Minneapolis (native to Bainbridge Island,WA) died peacefully in his home on February 26th following a courageous
six-month battle with Therapy Related Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Mikael was a beloved mime and vaudeville performer well-known to audiences at
renaissance and fringe festivals, churches and schools nationwide. He taught swing, salsa and ballroom dance in the Twin Cities and was a political activist.

Mikael studied with Marcel Marceau and was praised by this master of the art.  Mikael called himself a physical comedian, as the word “mime” went into disfavor.  His comedy moved beyond mime, and he was more of a Red Skelton styled pantomime, with the use of props and costumes. His hilarious characters were so different you hardly realized it was the same guy on stage.

Mikael made me laugh so many times over the years.  His amazing mime piece where he played 3 different characters in a baseball game was excellent. First he was the pitcher. He warmed up and then delivered a fast ball that sailed by the batter. With a spin of his baseball cap from front to back he immediately became the catcher and pulled the invisible yet seemingly steaming ball from his invisible glove. But I am sure that I could see the ball and glove as  the catcher mocked and tormented the batter!  He again played the batter preparing and then again he was instantly back to being the pitcher.  Mikael’s characters were so different as he expertly made the game come alive in my mind. You could hear the crowd roar and almost smell the peanuts. The batter missed the second pitch and the catcher mocked at the batter even more.  On the third pitch the catcher was ready for a strike out and silently teased the batter. The pitch was delivered with grace and style and this time the bat connected. We  laughed as we observed the reactions of the catcher and the pitcher to the ball heading out into the stands. It was hilarious and really captured the human spirit.  Mikael was a huge Twins fan and his love of baseball came out in this piece.

Another sweet piece that the crowds loved was when Mikael played a photographer and brought up members of the audience to play Dad, Mom and kids, finally a gentleman was brought up to play “Rover” the pet dog. Throughout the routine, Mikael milked laughs from the smallest things.  I must have seen this 20 times and each time it was different as he improvised around the structure.

My favorite comedy routine was Mikael’s work with “The Rock.”  He finds a large stone – (pictured above) and this rock starts to float in a mysterious way with a mind of it’s own.  This is pure magic!  The Rock moved and Mikael tried to put it on the ground but it carried him up and away instead. This was as real and amazing as any levitation in a magic show.  Finally he got this rock into a suitcase and tried to put the suitcase away… no more conflict with the rock begins as the suitcase starts to float and Mikael battles this challenge. He finally was able to get it to the ground and sit on it. but that was not the end, the suitcase became a bucking bronco and carried him off into the sunset.  Excellent comedy – excellently presented by a wonderful man.  Mikael Rudolph… I will miss you.

Mikael put on a silent comedy festival several years and invited me to present my Red Skelton/Charlie Chaplin silent piece.  He was always generous in his praise and it was fun to be on the team with him and his friends from around the country who would come in to perform at the festival.

I met Mikael around 28 years ago. He was performing at the Hamlin Library in St. Paul.  I came back stage after the show and introduced myself. I had performed on that stage many times and we connected as we talked about entertainment and life.  I soon began taking mime classes from him.  He was an excellent teacher.  I had no ambitions to be a mime, but I realized the advantage in a magic show that a bit of mime skill can bring.   If as a magician you imply that something is in your hand when the hand is really empty the skill of mime can add that extra proof.  He was one of my favorite performers in the Twin Cities and I sent him many shows over the years that I could not do.  He always gave them a great show.

He toured Europe several times with the EPIC Performing Arts Ministries. he also taught many of the people who traveled with the troupe. One piece I saw him do many years ago at a Church Sunday School convention was to the Kieth Green song – “The Prodigal Son.”  It was fabulous and touching as he played the various characters in the story.  I only saw him do it one other time, but both times it brought deep tears to my eyes.

The only time I performed at the Renaissance Festival was when Mikael brought the class out for a day and it was very fun.  It was hard to stay in character and not laugh as I watched him interact with the guests. He was so full of energy and moved with effortless grace. His stage shows at the Renaissance Festival were a riot and huge crowds would come to laugh and enjoy his shows.  He was named best new act his first year and received many awards over the years for his outstanding act.  He also taught ballroom dance for many years and competed as a ballroom dancer.

I will remember Mikael for his warmth and comedy. Thank you Mikael for making me laugh!

1 Response to “Mikael – Thanks for making me laugh!”

  1. 1 Lynn March 17, 2010 at 6:42 am

    what a lovely tribute!

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