As the second anniversary celebration of Terry Fator: Ventriloquism in Concert reached its midway point on March 18, Terry Fator put down his puppets to sing his original song “Horses in Heaven,” about a young boy with cancer. It was a rare solemn moment in an evening dedicated to straightforward gags involving handheld people made of felt. The America’s Got Talent winner seemed to enjoy the solo spotlight, almost as if he was trying to prove that he was a legitimate singer who didn’t need to rely on plushy partners.
But the real appeal of Fator’s show—the sensibility that has proved a considerable lure to middle America—is in the way he marries his puppets with pop-culture archetypes. Here’s Fator, with Walter the Balding Cowboy in hand, singing Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.” Here’s Fator taking on Phantom of the Opera, with Winston the Impersonating Turtle playing Phantom (to assistant/new wife Taylor Makakoa’s Christine). Here’s Fator singing “Let’s Get it On” with Julius the black “Soul Singer.”
Later came Duggie, the pothead rocker. His Axl Rose impression got my toes tapping, but my favorite was the Free Credit Report.com commercial he belted out. Even after he was put away behind a podium, his periodic muffled cries of “duuuuuude” were a continuous call back that always got a chuckle.
One act that fell flat was Vikki, the cougar. The desperate housewife routine of Vikki has been done to death, and while Fator’s vocal range is impressive, perhaps he should stick to male performers. There’s a reason why he only has two female puppets in his act, and I’m not sure that they even need to be there.
Then came the promised introduction of Fator’s new “cast” member, Berry Fabulous. The flamboyantly dressed Berry, self-described as a hip-hop diva, came out of a giant closet that was wheeled onto the stage. Fator then mashed rap lyrics with Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand and Ricky Martin.
Somewhere in middle America, someone is still laughing.