Paul B Edwards
Paul F Taylor
Paul Harry Allen
Paul T Eyres
Peter Buckley Hill
Peter von Natzmer
Piff The Magic Dragon
Priorite A Gauche
Paul Zerdin at The Comedy Store
With dummy Sam
More Paul Zerdin videos
|Paul Zerdin Live at the Comedy Store|
|Paul Zerdin Showreel|
|Paul Zerdin on The Gloria Hunniford Show|
|Paul Zerdin: Hidden Camera Stunt|
|Paul Zerdin: The Volunteer Dummy|
First winner of ITV's Big Big Talent show
|Stand Up: 2000:
Edinburgh show. Review
|Stand Up: 1997:
Performed for Prince Charles at the Prince's Trust 21st anniversary gala.
Paul Zerdin: Puppet Master
Is ‘old-fashioned’ an pejorative term in comedy? It needn’t be – anything from Tim Vine to Boy With Tape On His Face have strong elements of tradition, and thrive because of it.
Yet in the case of Paul Zerdin, the ‘old fashioned’ tag sticks because his act seems so sterile, stuck in a world of Eighties variety shows with bland pub jokes based on universally understood archetypes.
Surprisingly, it’s not because his chosen art form – ventriloquism – is languishing in the aspic of the variety halls. Despite his crimes against comedy, America’s Jeff Dunham is one of the world’s biggest-earning comics thanks to his Achmed The Dead Terrorist doll; while at the other end of the artistic scale Nina Conti continues to explore her own psyche through her foam monkey. Meanwhile The Muppets (not quite the same thing, admittedly, but not far off) are back with a bang.
In Puppet Master, Zerdin makes a few attempts to update his act for the same century the rest of us are in, but he never quite seems to have the courage of his convictions, and it’s not long before we’re back at the Stardust Lounge in Rhyl Pontins, with the safe, safe patter.
He starts off excellently well; a baby in a carry-cot starts gurgling away, and Zerdin tries to quieten him, moving the cot around, causing the pitch and volume of his tentative cries to vary. It’s a great way of showcasing Zerdin’s undeniably technical talents, and as a set piece, its’ something a little unusual.
But once the tot is on the ventriloquist’s arm, we’re back in the familiar territory of vent-puppet banter. The infant is naïve, so gets Zerdin to explain the birds and the bees, yet when he describes the light-headed feelings of falling in love, the baby ‘jokes’: ‘Like being on drugs!’ as if he’d know.
I’m prepared to suspend my disbelief for a talking foam baby but could he at least have a consistent personality where he’s not aware of the affects of psychotropic drugs? Although it’s really the quality of the gag that’s the problem.
Then the baby ruins a bedtime story by repeatedly yelling the name of his favourite animal: ‘Duck! Duck!’ which the more astute observer may have noted has another meaning. Cue cheap slapstick.
Then comes Zerdin’s most established character, Sam, a precocious boy who sounds remarkably like the baby – a surprise since Zerdin shows an impressive vocal range elsewhere. They bicker a bit, the doll insults the audience, and just when something interesting threatens to happen – when Sam and his controller swap voices – the segment evaporates into nothing.
The jokes and backchat are from the history books. ‘You’re seeing a psychiatrist? You need your head examined!’ Or: ‘I can be funny without a puppet!’/’You can’t be funny WITH a puppet.’ The biggest insult Sam can think to throw at his master is that he’s gay, and Zerdin proves his not by saying he doesn’t like Wizard Of Oz or musical theatre and his favourite colour is blue, not pink. What a rounded, enlightened view…
Never is the rickety state of the comedy more apparent than in Zerdin’s next ‘age-of-man’ puppet the pensioner Albert. He does a big shaggy-dog gag about an unloseable hearing aid, which has been around for decades – although it was about a golf ball when I first heard it. It’s as if this script has been cobbled together after googling the word ‘jokes’.
Zerdin’s finale is, however, an extremely funny take on his crafts. He rigs up a couple of artificial jaws on to two audience volunteers, and works them like his dolls, getting them to say things like: ‘I think I’m going to dance now…’ as panic spreads across the victim’s eyes. The couple he selected tonight in Hove were brilliantly game, and Zerdin’s adept at teasing them into doing his bidding, ending on a real high.
This is a prime example of how old-fashioned bit of business can be spruced up for a modern audience; but for the rest of the show, old jokes and older attitudes just don’t cut it. Zerdin’s a personable, slick entertainer, but too often seems struggling to keep up with the times.
|Date of live review: Tuesday 16th Oct, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
Tuesday 23rd Jul, '02-
Show - Misc live shows -
I saw Paul on the Birmingham Hippodrome's production of Robin Hood playing Will Scarlet... I have never laughed do hard at a panto. He brought real life to the show with his puppet Sam. He not only had the kids laughing hard by the adults too. A fantastic performer. Would go and see him again anytime!
Saw Paul at the Alex in Birmingham on Joe Pasquale's show. Absolutely brilliant. A great act. Would go and see him in his own show.
If you can try and see him in the panto of Cinderella which is on at Richmond theatre at the moment. He plays Buttons and he's absolutely fantastic - steals the show!
Saw Paul do his stuff at a private function over the weekend... nearly died laughing. Some great gags and superb voice throwing. He had the party host don a 'mouth mask with moving lips' and effectively the host became the dummy...brilliant. See him or die having missed out on a good laugh.
I saw Paul Zerdin some years ago in Blackpool, and I thought he was absolutely fantastic, the best ventriloquist I have ever seen
Hilarious and memorable, Paul Zerdin is a genius comedian, able to rope the audience into his ventriloquism, make his puppets believable and then mock his audience, in a friendly way, for falling for his act. His piece of audience participation at the end is worth the price of ticket admission alone.
Saw in Cinderella. Great bloke – audience loved him.
Saw in in Cinderella at Victoria Theatre, Woking, Surrey. He really made the show with his puppet Sam. A really funny man. The audience loved him.
Paul Zerdin Live
Paul Zerdin: Sponge Fest
Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Paul Zerdin: Sponge Fest Revisited
Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Paul Zerdin: No Strings
Misc live shows
Comedy Store's 30th Anniversary Charity Gala
Paul Zerdin: Puppet Master