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How did your recent tour go?

The summer tour was a family-friendly show. It’s tough keeping it squeaky clean.

Do you have to watch what you say?

It can feel like I’m holding back, whereas with my upcoming show, Puppet Master, I can say what I want.

Which do you prefer?

There’s certain material I do, it’s not rude but it is adult so the kids don’t get it. There’s a routine about being schizophrenic which I did try in the family show, but they just stared at me confused!

I prefer the grown-up show, but it’s not adult as in 18 and blue. There’s colourful language and some adult content, but it’s not Roy Chubby Brown!

I do swear quite a lot when I’m talking, it’s natural, so when you’re standing on stage at the Comedy Store you swear because it’s part of your vocabulary.

Is involving the audience risky?

I love doing it, and the audience expect it – they know they are going to be involved in my shows. In my last show, one of the big things was getting people out of the audience and making them into a human dummy.

This year I’m going to take it to the next level and get a couple on stage.

I have these masks that cover their mouths, and then I control what they say.

There’s technology involved – you don’t have to have your hand up someone’s arse! It’s ventriloquism in stand-up form, but without the puppet. Like being a hypnotist – you can do anything.

Are people willing to go along?

Absolutely, but I only get people who want to be there. Last year, I had a couple who were so enthusiastic people thought they were stooges.

You started out on talent shows – how do you feel about today’s talent shows?

People are always going to want them; people watch Big Brother because they’re nosey. Everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing.

But they also love the audition processes on The X Factor when you get those complete freaks coming out who are away with the fairies.  No one twists their arms, but they’re genuinely deluded, and people love that cringe factor.

Has it been good for ventriloquism?

It has made things like The Royal Variety Show cool again, because it was out in the wilderness for a few years – I was on it in those days – but the viewing figures have shot back up. 

Would you like more variety on TV?

There are some great stand-up shows, but it would be great if there was something for variety, too. A good comedy magician, a ventriloquist, some jugglers – there are great acts not getting their deserved platform.


Interview: Comedy ventriloquist Paul Zerdin on talent shows, surprising audiences and his new show Puppet Master
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