David Strassman is the avant-garde artist who brought ventriloquism into the 21st century. Led by the evil Chuck Wood and delightful Ted E Bare, David’s crew of mechanical puppets create a one-man, multi-perspective live event like no other. Now heading to the Gold Coast with iTedE, an uproarious take on our technology-laden lives, Strassman took the time to chat to us about all things puppetronics.
“I’ve always been interested in robotics and mechanics, flying model airplanes as a kid and even now as an adult,” he says.
That interest led him to collaborate with a friend in the creation of his first mechanical puppet, the sharp-tongued Chuck Wood.
“One drunken night with a model airplane buddy, we thought of the idea of putting the same servos that control a model airplane into Chuck,” David remembers.
“We didn’t know how to complete a very unique part of the robotics so a buddy, who worked at NASA, helped me by machining this special “clutch”. This was after hours so we ended up sneaking into the NASA Ames Research Center in Berkeley, California, and he machined this part while I played with liquid nitrogen.
“After putting the robotics into Chuck, I thought of a routine where Chuck ‘sacks’ me, I leave the stage, and he comes to life. This put me on the map. The rest is post-modernistic ventriloquism history.”
I wonder if David’s characters are actually his alter-egos.
“Funny you should mention that,” he says.
“A lot of people ask me if I suffer from multiple personality disorder… well, I don’t suffer from it, I enjoy it! Seriously, my characters are envisioned first, then their personality develops over many thousands of hours of writing and perfecting routines, hours of stage time interacting with them.”
In iTedE, Chuck Wood and Ted E. Bare have been thrust into the world of social media, constantly on their devices. David discusses the pros and cons of the current tech-obsessed age.
“[Social media] is a blessing because the world is instantly at our fingertips and knowledge, art, and social connection is only one ‘click’ away. How amazing is that?” he asks.
“It’s also a curse because the dark side of humanity is also one ‘click’ away and the amount of useless noise that pour out of our devices is an unwelcomed diversion from things that are truly important in life.”
99% comedy and 1% message, iTedE breaks the laws of puppet physics by putting David into a six-way conversation with his puppets for a full 25 minutes of the show. David summarises the evening.
“It’s a completely brand new, hilarious comedy show, filled with fun, twisted puppets, laughs, music, robotics, a very pissed clown, and a night you’ll never forget. iTedE is real, it’s live, and it’ll be one of the greatest nights out you’ll have in a long, long time.”
You can catch David and his crew performing iTedE at The Arts Centre Gold Coast on 17 May. Tickets from theartscentregc.com.au.
IMAGE (c) Adam Shane Photography