It’s an 18th century art form but ventriloquist David Strassman is successfully bringing it to 21st century audiences.
Currently touring NSW and Canberra, Strassman brought his latest – and greatest – show, iTedE, to Sydney this week at the Mittagong RSL.
The ventriloquist, famed for bringing an old fashioned art form into the present with clever puppetronic technologies, combined a TED-style talk with comedy for 1000 people.
The show was about how Strassman couldn’t get Chuck Wood and Ted E Bare, the two main characters, off their devices, mirroring our society.
The first half of the show was a tad too long for what it needed and focused on Strassman introducing the characters and likening them to extensions of his own personality. There was his inner child (Ted E Bare), the father figure (Grandpa Fred), the feminine side (Sid Beaverman), the voice of reason and logic (Kevin the Alien), the alcoholic (Buttons the Clown) and the cheeky menace (Chuck Wood).
In the first act, Strassman operated the puppets with the traditional “hand-up-the-bum” ventriloquism as they rehearsed for the TED talk. Like Strassman’s other live work, a lot of it focused on a series of arguments between Ted, Chuck and Strassman himself, as well as audience-directed satire.
In the second act, Strassman broke the laws of puppet physics as his five puppets came to life in a six-way conversation delivering the TED talk.
In his talk, Strassman expressed his concern that technology is keeping humans from using their imagination, causing shows like his, to fade away.
The show had a slight unsteady feel. There were things that didn’t always go to plan, such as Strassman forgetting his lines or throwing in an incorrect voice. But having Kevin the Alien playing it off with, “Hey! That was my voice!” and Grandpa Fred responding with, “Sorry!” when these things happened, added to the humour.
Strassman pulled no strings nor punches as he led the audience down a road of suspended disbelief and back to reality, a cycle of greater and more in-depth magic tricks with what is real and what isn’t.
Although Strassman down-talked the impact of technology in his show, technological advancement has enabled his shows to improve over the years.
He had each of his puppets connected to the one laptop, giving their movements the ability to be controlled using a remote control, such as Chuck stubbing Ted.
Strassman’s puppets started out as one-dimensional with simple comedy routines. However, through the decades, they have grown in scope and complexity. – Brooke Gibbs