Hearing the word ‘ventriloquism’ might conjure up thoughts of old-fashioned, naff, wannabe-funny-but-failing-spectacularly performers.
But one hilarious puppet master has dragged this age-old concept into the 21st century and somehow, quite miraculously, succeeded in making it super cool.
Paul Zerdin, who started professionally putting words into puppets’ mouths at 18, is bringing his new, hysterical show to The Playhouse in Epsom on October 16.
He said: “It’s a stand-up comedy show with ventriloquism - but don’t hold that against me.
“There’s lots of audience participation and lots of new material.
“My new puppet Alasdair Rimmer is a game show host, voiceover artist and frustrated actor.
“He’s very showbiz and a little bit bitter.
“He makes a living doing voiceovers but feels he should be on primetime TV and muscles in on my show, introducing me and then he wants to interview me.”
Paul, from Wimbledon, has also introduced an uproarious section to his Puppet Master show during which a couple from the audience are brought on stage.
The unsuspecting pair is given puppet masks to wear over their mouths, and without moving his lips once, Paul provides them with comical voices and a marriage therapy session.
He added: “The mouths are funny – they completely transform someone’s face.
“I’ve got a knack for choosing good people.
“I make sure they’re happy, comfortable but not too over the top.
“I had a couple once who were so enthusiastic people thought they were stooges.”
Talking about the stuffy, dated perceptions of ventriloquists, Paul said there is nothing worse than an unfunny puppeteer.
He told us: “It’s an old-fashioned thing to do but it can be funny if you do it well.
“It was always meant to be funny.
“People could be technically the greatest – but if it’s not funny what’s the point?
"Luckily, I’ve made a career talking to myself – it’s better than being locked up for it."
The talented vocal genius encouraged people not to miss out on Puppet Master.
“Come along and don’t let the word ‘ventriloquist’ put you off.”
“It is funny and it’s going really well.
“There’s something for everyone, but leave the children at home.” For tickets visit www.epsomplayhouse.co.uk and for more about Paul see paulzerdin.com