If one of your new year's resolutions is to laugh more, the Everett Theatre in Middletown is already one step ahead of you.
The historic theater will host the return of national ventriloquist John Pizzi and his motley crew of blockheads on Jan. 11.
Pizzi, 50, of New Jersey, has been a familiar face on "American's Got Talent," having appeared on the sixth and seventh seasons. On season seven Pizzi dazzled the show's judges (Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne) when he performed with his DummyU app (also known as the Virtual Ventriloquist), an app designed for iPhone and iPad that allows users to create virtual dummies.
DummyU will be incorporated into Pizzi's show at The Everett.
Q What was your debut like at The Everett last year?
A It was a really fun night. We had a really large crowd, which I was happy to have in the middle of January after the holiday, and it was a really nice experience. The people were all prepped up and ready to have fun. We ended up doing this long show. I think we'll probably get a lot of people back that were there before.
Q You received high praise from the judges on "America's Got Talent" for the DummyU app. What was that like?
A It was actually really cool and nice to see them enjoy it. I was really pleased and relieved that they were happy with my content. I invented the DummyU app that I used on the show, and it took me about a year to make.
Q In addition to using DummyU, which other dummies might you use at The Everett?
A I'll probably bring about eight total. As I'm going through the show, I'll pull out the ones I feel are appropriate at the time. Last year, if I remember correctly, I brought the Indian Swami (named Swami Riva) and I brought Uncle Smiley (he's an old man), and Smokey (he's an African American pimp who hates white people [laughs]), and then I have Andy who does all the ethnic rants. We also have in the show someone we create into a human dummy.
Q A portion of your material is based on politically incorrect observations. What are some new observations you've weaved into your material?
A Well, some of the material is based on politically incorrectness, but a lot of it is based on interacting with whoever is front of you in the crowd. Being a ventriloquist, I'm able to utilize the dummy or the puppet to interact with the crowd in a way that a comedian would never get away with; they'd hate you. But because it's a puppet, it takes the heat off the material. Now I've been doing more roasting type of material. I seem to be going more and more in the roasting direction.
Page 2 of 2 - Q How would you describe the landscape of ventriloquism?
A I've been a ventriloquist many years now, since the '80s, and a lot of people say, "Yeah, that's a really cool thing you do. It's a dead art." And to be honest with you, I think it's the opposite. I think it's a growing art. There's a lot of ventriloquist out there. Jeff Dunham has become a huge celebrity the last 10 years or so. He's been one of the highest paid touring acts in the country, so the landscape has really changed. It's a great art. It's a fun thing to do. People are fascinated with puppets because we're raised with them when we're a child — we all have like dolls, teddy bears and puppets when you're kids, when you start out — so it's inherit.