Comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator won “America’s Got Talent” by being a one-man show — he is a ventriloquist who has his puppets do celebrity voices singing songs.
“I saw the late Danny Gans, a singer and impressionist, in Las Vegas,” said Fator of how he began doing the combination of ventriloquism, celebrity voices and singing. “I had been doing impressions of singers for years. He did Garth Brooks and Rod Stewart and I thought, ‘I do what he does.’ But to do something different, I focused on singing impressions with puppets. It came naturally to me. Fortunately for me, people are going crazy for it.”
Terry Fator will perform on Oct. 12 at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora.
He currently headlines at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
Fator’s show offers a wide range of characters including Winston, the impersonating turtle; Emma Taylor, the little girl with the big voice; and lounge singer Monty Carlo. Along with his comedic banter, Fator and his puppets perform vocal impressions of musical superstars such as Garth Brooks, Dean Martin, Aretha Franklin and Lady Gaga.
“I have the unusual experience of having a show and being a success because of the people of America voting for me,” said Fator, referring to his win on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent” in 2007.
“The show I have written and perform is a tribute to my fans. I go through my entire story — from being a janitor to headlining at the Mirage. In the show I include things about ‘America’s Got Talent.’ Things about what it was like to be on that show.”
Although Fator uses more than a dozen different puppets in his show, he does prefer one character over the others. When Fator was in the final four contestants on “America’s Got Talent,” one of his performances consisted of his turtle puppet, Winston, singing “Crying,” impersonating Roy Orbison.
“My favorite is Winston, the turtle,” Fator said, “because I believe he won ‘America’s Got Talent’ for me.
“My family pushed me to do Roy Orbison,” he continued. “So I came up with a mop top and sunglasses to put on Winston and I thought, ‘That may be just enough to win this for me. He’s so cute.’
Fator did not really believe he could win the “America’s Got Talent” title early on.
“In my mind, I had no chance,” he said. “Ventriloquism gets a negative feeling. People don’t expect much from ventriloquists. They don’t look at it as a legitimate form. People think ventriloquism is mostly for kids’ parties.”
But Fator has changed many people’s minds about the entertainment specialty. And he thinks the music in his shows is part of the appeal.
“Music is eternal,” he said. “Songs by Roy Orbison, Nat King Cole and Elvis Presley get people excited. Music is a universal language. I think I’ll be appealing to audiences for a long time because they want to hear the old songs and the classic singers.”