South Africa’s comedic ventriloquist Conrad Koch will be heading to the Baxter Theatre with his latest comedy show, ‘Puppet Guy’, for two performances only on September 23 and 24 at 8.15pm. (Tickets are R100 and bookings are open through Computicket right now, at http://online.computicket.com/web/event/puppet_guy/1051975701.)
Following the success of comedy acts such as ‘Puppet Asylum’, ‘The Chester Missing Roadshow’, and ‘Missing’, ‘Puppet Guy’ showcases the guy behind the puppets with a unique take on ventriloquism.
Audiences will be introduced to a host of new characters as Koch gets back to the silly side of ventriloquism – talking to himself and the variety of odd puppet people that live in his head. In the production he discovers that his puppets have all gone missing. These characters have formed such an integral part of his persona, that now he needs to find a way of creating new puppets out of interesting objects surrounding him.
Having worked in the industry for over fifteen years, Koch’s shows have seen him perform locally and abroad, where he’s been featured on radio and television stations.
PETER TROMP caught up with KOCH in the run up to his latest showcase.
Tell us about ‘Puppet Guy’. What can audiences look forward to with the show?
Puppets and a guy. This is comedy ventriloquism like you have never seen before: puppets made from found objects; feather dusters; a paper bag; someone from the audience; and of course, Chester Missing, the puppet political analyst you’ve seen on TV.
Do you feel pressure at all the come up with new material constantly?
No. I have a writing team at Luthuli House who churn out jokes constantly.
How long does it take for a fully fledged show to come together?
A fair amount of time, because I aim for political nuance, which means trial and error in the writing process and the ventriloquism adds dimensions that stand up comedians don’t have: puppetry, a dialogue versus just talking, and of course having to do it all without moving my lips. This show experiments with angles completely different from anything I’ve done before.
What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been on stage?
Doing a TV shoot last year at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, the world’s biggest comedy festival. It was pretty nerve-wrecking, although having a journalist in the audience to check if I said the name of a certain Afrikaans singer after he got a harassment order against my puppet was pretty freaky.
Can you remember your first show, and what the response was?
I started performing when I was 10 years old through the incredible College of Magic in Claremont. I remember it being odd, but well received. But when it’s just your mom clapping, who can’t really tell?
Who are some of your comedy heroes?
Des Van Rooyen, Baleka Mbete and Blade Nzimande. Satirical geniuses.
Which one of your puppets carries the most of your personality?
Chester Missing is the one everyone knows from TV, radio and newspapers. The dude wrote a book, I have checked into hotel rooms booked in his name, been given awards that were meant for him, not me, and been called by senior politicians wanting to talk to him. In ‘Puppet Guy’ people can meet some more of the bizarre characters that live in my head.