COMEDIAN David Strassman has a conflicted view of technology, much like the warped personalities of the multiple characters he portrays like Chuck Wood and Ted E. Bare.
On one hand Strassmam resents the impact social media is having on the world, particularly in last year’s US presidential election, but he has embraced technology to push the boundaries of his ventriloquism.
That conflict is at the heart of Strassman’s latest show iTedE. While the first half of the show is what the 59-year-old American describes as your “traditional hand-up-the-bum puppetry”, its second stanza involves Strassman conducting a 20-minute six-way conversation with five puppets. All the while using a handheld wireless remote control.
“This show took the longest rehearsal time of any show ever,” Strassman says from Timaru in New Zealand.
The world-first six-way conversation was born after Strassman’s co-writer and friend Steve Altman laid down the challenge.
“He keeps pushing my boundaries and he’s not a ventriloquist, and he says ‘I’d like to see you do a four-way phone call’, so my last show had a four-way phone call,” Strassman says. “Then he says, ‘how about you do a six-way conversation for 20 minutes’, and I’m like, ‘no way, I can’t do that’. Once the show was written I figured out the technology to do it.”
Since the ‘80s Strassman has been making audiences laugh with his mix of characters like the crude Chuck, naive Ted E. Bare and drunken clown Buttons. Australians have been among his biggest fans.
While iTedE is foremost a comedy, there is social commentary.
“There’s a theme that all of us are addicted to screens and tablets and we’re constantly checking Facebook and Snapchat, emails and text messages and we’re not using our imaginations any more,” he says.
“My show talks about the fact that technology gave rise to an idiot president in the United States who isn’t a president, he’s a reality TV star. Social media is at fault because people are believing things without fact-checking first.”
David Strassman performs at Cessnock Leagues Club (Wednesday), Club Maitland City (Thursday), Belmont 16s (Friday) and Wests New Lambton (March 25 and 26).