Todd Oliver talks to the area kids as well as making them laugh

Todd Oliver, the ventriloquist, had the kids from area schools laughing on Monday morning and afternoon with his pals’ (his puppets) remarks, but he also had a solid message for them - the way to accomplish anything is practice, practice, practice. He told of the librarian who had encouraged him to “do something” with his ventriloquism. He told of his hours of practice and of how the audience had not laughed at his first show, when he was thirteen. Then he told of the many hours he had performed as a volunteer, learning from the audience what was funny.

He told about using a puppet from a toy store until he earned enough money to buy his puppet, Joey, who was made by a wood carver in Rhode Island. His other puppets are Pops, a crusty old guy, and Miss Lily, who only appears in the evening show. The hit was his dog, Irving, who talks because of a special attachment invented by Oliver. “Irving is the star of the evening show,” said Oliver.

He answered questions after the puppet show, telling the children plainly that the voices all really came from him, but because of a disconnect between people’s eyes and ears, it is possible to make you think the voices are really coming from the puppets. He also demonstrated by using their classmates as puppets, making the most astonishing voice come from a dainty little girl from the audience. This child was really talented in assuming the expression of the character.

His plain talk was about what it takes to be a success was backed up by his answers to questions posed by children in the audience. One asked him about his most memorable experience. He had to choose the David Letterman Show, because it was performed in the famous Ed Sullivan Theater. He also said that his dream is to perform for audiences, and that he chooses to perform in small towns and theaters all over the country. He is not willing to “talk dirty” like many of the popular comedians today. He said people of his era do not believe in using language not suitable for public performances.

He capped his performance with a very good trick. He told the children there was a contest to see which class could leave the building with no talking and no acting up for their teachers. Here’s hoping he manages to send out some sort of prize to all the kids, because their exit from the auditorium was silent.