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In Memoriam: Elliott Miller

By Patrick Morrow and Peter Walsh, with contributions by Maddie Houlbrook-Walk and Joel Hillman


Elliott was so many exceptional people – a tap-dancing detective Hammett, a family man stoked that his kids were being shot by Ned Kelly, the sweetest bugler there ever was, and countless whole humans plucked from thin air, glimmering for a few minutes, and vanishing to a perfect score of 5, 5, and 5.

He was very busy and took every opportunity to perform. Elliott spent the better half of 2014 concurrently rehearsing at least five shows and dedicated his 2015 to his own burgeoning talents as a director. At his first university audition, he seemed like an exceptionally talented arsehole and in time – at the Giant Dwarf, in the Seymour Centre and in The Cellar – he proved us half right. The only complaint you could make about Elliott was really a complaint about a lack of hours in the day. It was a selfish grievance, held by directors jealous for his time, and when they were lucky enough to have his undivided attention, they were granted his perfectionism, and with it, his mind for identifying the best cadences for a joke. He performed right to the end, and never lost his ability to saunter onto a stage and own it.

Offstage, he was so much more than the sum of every one of those characters.

His impatience for unkindness, and his pride in, and dedication to, those he loved manifested in a fierce loyalty. At a time when he had almost no energy, he found endless energy to conjure laughter and warmth in those around him. He nurtured new performers diligently, and was as inspirational off-stage as he was in full flight. There are so many who trace the courage to perform (as artists, or as anything) back to a believing word from Elliott. Though he was always willing to keep problems in perspective with a mock-pointed “is it worse than cancer?”, he would never let people suffer at their lowest – even when he was at his.

He didn’t want us to remember him with cancer, but it would be unfair to discredit the immense bravery he showed in the last six months.

Elliott was on several occasions moved from room to room at Life House for too many guests and too much fun. Once, while being injected with Endone, a nurse asked if he had any allergies. “Oh, only Endone’” he said, to the nurse’s panic, and then amusement. In his final days he still found time – by text – for sketch and stand-up edits; often blunt but always true. He was generous with all the faculties he sometimes claimed to have lost to his ferocious treatment. He held onto them to the end.

In the last week, everyone has been on a strange knife-edge between laughing and crying. Remembering every private anecdote, dreadful sketch idea, and brilliant moment on stage lights up the room as if he hasn’t left at all. Cruelly, wastefully, heart-breakingly though, he has.

He leaves behind a far longer lifetime’s worth of brilliant memories, and a renewed urgency: do everything you can, as well as you can; trust the things and people you love, and love them hard. Be fearless, be direct and be kind. None of us can afford to waste any time.

Elliott, we all miss you, the crowd would like an encore.

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