Arkansas in August

Google maps told me that it is 463 miles from my doorstep to Heber Springs, Arkansas where I will be performing at the Assembly of God Church for the next three days.  Would I rather drive 463 miles than fly it?  Yes, oh yes, indeed yes.
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First Summer Show (church)

Lorena Texas is a lovely little town just south of Waco.  My best friend Charlotte Van Cleave from High School lived there when we both had young children, and I visited her there in the early 80s.  First time I ever got a fire ant bite.  I remember thinking “YEOW – WHAT WAS THAT?”  Now, they’re common and unwelcome visitors all over Texas – the little monster you love to hate.  Still like the town, though.

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Princess Tea Party

tea party fix

Oh my it’s hard to be adored!

  Of course, why WOULDN’T they adore me?  I’m cute as a button and all I want in the world is for people to know how great I am and to treat me like a princess.

     My human, Nancy Burks Worcester doesn’t get it…

nancy wedding (2)

…she thinks that I should treat people the way I want to be treated.  I think I should treat people the way they do on reality television.  Why should I treat people with kindness and respect if they don’t treat ME that way?

“The Golden Rule” she says.  Well, I’m not buying it.  I think I should just surround myself with littler girls so I can always be the boss.

 

She says that’s bullying, and that we should help teach children how to NOT be bullies and how to DEAL with bullies.

In this year’s show “Join the Club“, Nancy says we’re going to talk more about that.  She says that schools looking for awesome children’s educational entertainment should call us and that people who already know us should tell someone else.

Gee.  Can’t wait. (NOT)

Love, Lili

Are those puppets REAL?

In twenty plus years of doing ventriloquist shows Nancy and Waco the Weasel for children, I have gotten a lot of questions.  One however, pops up more than any other and that is “Are those puppets REAL?”

What a strange and surreal question.  On one hand, the child KNOWS that it’s a puppet and on the other, he is not sure whether it is REAL or not.

I take that as a great compliment.  Children under 5th grade generally don’t understand what they are seeing at all, unless they have been exposed to other ventriloquists and had it explained to them before.  I have also had adults ask me how the puppet “talks”, although not too often.

Vents like Jeff Dunham  Jeff Dunham

America's Got Talent's Terry Fator

Terry Fator

and Terry Fator

have upped the status and exposure of ventriloquists in general.  For awhile it was like being the representative to the future of an ancient and extinct job, which has actually happened to me before.

In the 70s and 80s I mostly worked as a “typesetter”.  I operated a lithograph, a compugraphic   compugraphicand a lot of other machines you have never heard of as a person who set “cold type”.   That vocation is as dead as lamplighters, travel agents and video store clerks.

When I began I used a truly horrible puppet made out of the combination of a washmitt, old carpet and dyed pantyhose.  When I look at it today  I find it very hard to believeold larry that 1. I actually had the chutzpah to market myself with a puppet that bad and 2. that I really wore those glasses and that hairdo.

On the other hand, I remember making a lot of children laugh with that awful-looking Larry the whatever-he-is.

Which brings me to my original story.  Yesterday when I was at the Haltom City Public Library, a little boy came up to me and said “I know how you do that…”

I was prepared.  I’ve heard it all before:  “There’s a battery in there”, “It’s recorded”, and “There’s someone behind the curtain that talks for the puppets”.  But nope – this was a new one.  This little boy said “You had your phone hanging on the curtain and the earpiece in your ear and you had someone on the telephone!”

Can’t put anything over on today’s kids can you?  In actuality  the “telephone” was my ipod which plays show music and the “earphone” was the wireless microphone that attaches behind my ear.  But he was so SURE!

So I guess some things don’t change for us in the ventriloquism biz.  Whether you use a homemade sock puppet, a basswood Tim Selberg for several thousand dollars, or a vintage Frank Marshall, maker of Paul Winchell’s “Jerry Mahoney” Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney

 the real trick is to make the figure so alive that it doesn’t matter what it looks like – it’s the reality of the heart that matters.