COMEDIAN David Strassman has a valuable snippet of advice for novice ventriloquists: go to university and become a doctor.
The LA funnyman best known for his puppetry act starring Chuck Wood and Ted E. Bear launched his career in New York at the beginning of the city’s comedy boom and decades later has a well-earned spot in the limelight.
“The entertainment field has the largest unemployment of any profession on the planet – something like 95 per cent of artists and actors are unemployed,” Strassman said.
“In non-fiction book Outliers, this gentleman tries to decipher what makes people exceptional in their careers and he found out that it was having 10,000 hours of practise.
“That’s a lot of hours and so I spent almost 12 years performing my show and I got that 10,000 hours in.
“I literally worked my way up from opening act to middle act to headliner and moved out of the comedy clubs and into theatre, where I turned my show into a production.”
Strassman and his beloved puppets return to Perth next month for a new show about the perils of technology.
“I embrace technology – the iPhone has completely changed the way we live; it has killed alarm clocks, calendars, the compass, maps, taxis,” the ventriloquist said.
“My show is about the fact that I can’t get Chucky and Ted E. off their devices. There is too much screen time in their world and I think that’s one of the problems we all have; we use our phones instead of our imaginations.
“People will sit around at a pub and the question comes up ‘who won the rugby tournament last year?’, no one uses their brains, they pull out their phones and Google it.
“It’s great to have that information at our fingertips but we’re not using our brains as much; there’s a whole generation out there which relies on screens rather than knowledge.”
Strassman said he broke all the laws of puppet physics in this performance, simultaneously operating five characters in a six-way conversation.
Does he ever slip up?
“Of course I do and that’s the fun, because whenever an artist slips up and makes fun of it, it is probably some of the funniest bits of any show,” Strassman said.
“I can’t go wrong: my show is great when I’m perfect and great when I stuff up.”
WHAT: iTED E
WHERE: Mandurah Performing Arts Centre
WHEN: October 31, November 1