Revisiting an Old Friend
Ever since I was a child I wanted to be a ventriloquist and or comedian. My mom bought me "Big Bird" and "Lester" ventriloquist puppets when I was a child. "Lester" was the puppet of ventriloquist Willie Tyler who was popular in the early 1970s. At the young age of seven years old In 1972, I was watching Willie Tyler Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, featuring he and Lester. I told my mom I wanted a Lester puppet and thus began my love for this beloved art form.
She ordered it from the Sears Roebuck Catalog and Santa Clause left it under the Christmas Tree that year. Like the Big Bird puppet, I pulled the strings and nothing came out of their mouths. My mom explained to me that I had to throw my voice. She taught me a thing or two about ventriloquism but it didn't take. Then she bought me a magic set. I performed for family and friends but that didn't take either. My mother was somewhat disappointed because she always thought I was good at doing impressions of people.
After working professionally as a drummer in two bands I gave that up to begin a career in comedy and improvisation. I did that professionally for a few years but that fizzled out too. Then I became a Karaoke Jockey for Karaoke America TV show with host Bobby Locke for nine years but I wasn't satisfied with that either. I wanted to try to become a ventriloquist again but time, money, and finances stifled that desire.
Two years ago I was watching ventriloquist and actress Nina Conti and it brought back the desire to revisit becoming a ventriloquist. I watched a video of her talking with puppet maker Steve Axtell at the Vent-Haven Convention for Ventriloquists and Magicians. My acting career was going nowhere, I was and I am working at a dead-end cashier job and I was ready to make my childhood dream come true. Finally.
The first puppet I bought from Axtell Expressions was a bird puppet. It was for beginners and it was cheap too, so I bought it. Later on, I bought two additional puppets and practiced my act with them all. I began studying ventriloquism again and re-learning all the old techniques I taught myself decades ago. I attended a virtual Ventriloquist Convention called KAX and learned from the best. I networked with other ventriloquists and honed my craft. Getting pointers and tips for creating quality videos and performances as well.
I joined several Vent and puppet groups on Facebook and word got out that I was a rising star. Frank Logan noticed my talent and approached me about being on his show. I've been interviewed by Frank Logan's Figure Focus with all three puppets a few times and it has helped to get the word out and promote my work. It's also helped me become popular in other countries like Mexico, Peru, Germany, Istanbul, Turkey, and Egypt. Just take a look at my Facebook page.
My future plans are to continue ventriloquism and continue to practice the art. I make videos each week and write my own material. As a former professional stand-up comic and an improvisational performer it definitely helps. There's also a desire in my heart to make people laugh again as I did as a child and young adult. I don't want to see people cry anymore. I want to bring them joy and laughter, especially with the pain and suffering COVID-19 had caused us. Yes, we must mourn the lives we lost, but can we not also celebrate the lives we have now?
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I write about Puppetry and Ventriloquism