Paul Zerdin is a British ventriloquist whose fame amplified after winning the 10th season of America’s Got Talent.
We catch up with Paul ahead of his UK tour starting this August…
How has this year been for you so far?
This year has been alright so far thank you. I finished Jack and the Beanstalk at The Palladium mid January then have been gigging in Dublin, Amsterdam and Dubai over the last few weeks. I’m now right in the thick of putting together the new ‘Puppetman’ tour.
Did you always want to be a comedian?
I never really wanted to be a comedian I was a magician and puppeteer when I was a kid and I left school with only Drama and English GCSE’s and went to work in a Magic shop in London. I then put together a stand up magic act and realised that the comedy was the most important part of it.
I’d always loved The Muppets and Sesame Street and a friend gave me a book on how to do Ventriloquism and so I learnt that and then put it in the act. Eventually I phased out the Magic and kept the Comedy and Ventriloquism.
What was your first puppet?
My first puppet was muppet like character Gus he was my version of Ernie from Sesame Street, he had an American accent and everything.
You won America’s Got Talent with your act in 2015, what motivated you to audition?
I’d been on TV lots over the years and been trying to get my own show off the ground but it never happened so I got fed up with British TV execs and thought I’d try my luck in the States. It went quite well I ended up with my own show in Vegas for 6 months.
Did you enter the competition expecting to win?
I never in a million years expected to win the show I just wanted to get enough exposure to help my career in the US.
How did the Coronavirus pandemic affect your performances?
The pandemic absolutely ballsed up everything! Live entertainment wasn’t allowed to happen unless it was outside or on Zoom.
I hated the Zoom gigs so I stopped doing them but got used to working outdoors in all weathers! It was the first time I’d been heckled by the coastguard helicopter and seagulls!
Is it a relief to be back to normal?
Yes, although I don’t think live entertainment is still quite back to normal yet. I think the pandemic has made people forget how to be audiences as they have been so used to watching everything from their homes, and people are booking much more last minute these days which makes it more difficult to work out if you’re actually going to have an audience when you get to the venue!
You’re back on tour in the UK this year. Tell us what audiences can expect from these shows.
The show features me and my dysfunctional muppet family. Sam wants to leave the show and go it alone, Albert is 96 and going through a divorce, and the Baby has learnt lots of new swear words!
What’s next for you after the tour?
I go straight back into the Pantomime at The London Palladium which will be my 8th consecutive year there! Where has the time gone! Then I am hopefully heading back to the US next year to tour the show there for a bit. I haven’t been in the US since before the Pandemic! So I think it’s time.
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