A third-generation San Franciscan, Michael's creative efforts began early. In high school, he was a published poet and won the school acting award. In the early ‘70's, Michael was intrigued with the art of clowning, and was handpicked from over 2,000 applicants to attend Clown College. Upon graduation, he landed a job as a clown with the Ringling Brothers Circus.
After several years of circus life on the road, he returned to San Francisco and began to create his act. He established a fast-growing word-of-mouth reputation. He stayed on the streets for three years, receiving various offers to perform ("All you need in show business are two or three hundred good breaks," says Michael), and next branched out to perform at conventions, fundraiser's, corporate events, benefits, schools, and local nightclubs.
Spotted by a talent agent in 1979, he was hired to perform on HBO's The Young Comedian's Show, his first major television appearance. Next came Broadway Follies. Said a New York Times critic of Michael's performance, "I was as close as I have ever been to rolling in an aisle with laughter." Sugar Babies followed, and soon his notices brought him to the attention of Saturday Night Live's producers, resulting in six guest appearances on the show.
Michael has been featured on The Dick Cavett Show, The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, 20/20, and Night of 100 Stars, among others. A Command Performance at the Ford Theatre found him in the company of Liza Minnelli, Ben Vereen, and Natalia Makarova. He has been honored by his peers with a Drama Desk Nomination and a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in Sugar Babies.
Citing Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Charlie Chaplin as his greatest comedic influences, Michael best appreciates humor that he can perform for any audience, a type of "new vaudeville." "I love it when I do a show and there are kids and grandparents laughing at the same joke," he says, "It is a type of humor that doesn't age." Audiences certainly agree.