(NOTE ON ABOVE DEMO: The demo here shows a few bits from Joe's family shows where there are kids or kids and adults in the audience. Adult audience shows are NOT completely the same since all shows are geared for EACH specific audience mix. Kid and teen shows are adjusted for each age group. The SPY TV bit was a special TV stunt.)
Joe Gandelman went fulltime in 1990 at the encouragement of legendary ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson and now he performs for all ages all over the country. In the summer of 2008 he did his show for 8 fairs in 7 weeks in three states. No venue is too big or too small. During the 2010-2011 school year he did message assemblies (no bullying, reading, Internet safety, anti-drug, character) on a special 9 month tour. This summer he's booked to do the full 11 day run of the Colorado State Fair August 23 - Sept. 3. He has also appeared in various family/kids variety shows on stages in California.
Joe always liked show business but has noted: "I got sidetracked for several decades..."
He spent nearly 20 years in the newspaper business before he decided to dash it all and become a full-time ventriloquist. Gandelman tried ventriloquism as a child in Connecticut. He studied classic comedians such as Lou Costello, Jackie Gleason, Jack Benny and others, watching and re-watching them, and analyzing their humor and timing. He has been fascinated with comedy and continues to study DVDs of Larry David, Benny Hill, Bill Murray. Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians and comic actors.
He attended Colgate University where final semester senior year he interned as a reporter on The Hindustan Times in New Delhi, India. After getting his B.A. from Colgate he got his Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and began a newspaper career that included freelance work in India, Spain, Cypress and Bangladesh. He wrote for papers such as the Chicago Daily News, contributed to Newsweek and National Public Radio and was the Christian Science Monitor's Madrid Special Correspondent.
He returned to home to become a staff writer on the Wichita Eagle-Beacon and, later, the San Diego Union. In the 1980s, he did ventriloquism again to relieve stress -- perfecting his technique by carefully studying and constantly practicing a mail-order ventriloquism course's materials.
He eventually settled on a quick-witted character he named "John Raven," and used authentic, hand-carved $2,000 wooden dummy created by Chuck Jackson. Raven is a living cartoon with wiggling ears, a stick out tongue and other features.
Gandelman went full-time due to the encouragement of Nelson, star of the classic 1950s-1960s Nestles commercials and early TV variety shows (Gleason, Berle and Ed Sullivan). In November 1990 he left his job as a San Diego Union staff newspaper reporter to do ventriloquism full-time. He had few bookings lined up and received little help from agents. To fine-tune his performances, he had private sessions and studied with Hollywood comedy coach Greg Dean.
Gandelman has since become a highly booked and rebooked family entertainer. He opened for national musical groups, performed at Camp Pendleton before a speech by former Pres. Ronald Reagan and was seen on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. He has performed in countless venues before audiences of all age groups from coast-to-coast -- in living rooms, on big stages, and even in a pig barn arena in Texas.
He and his wooden dummies and cartoon-like latex puppets have also appeared in family variety shows at California big stage venues such as San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, San Jose's Civic Auditorium, Oakland's Paramount Theater, and the Anaheim Convention Center.
His act features comedy, music and lots of audience interaction. Gandelman has a large cast of state-of-the-art wooden and "soft" figures. Some shows contain as many as 11 different segments. Many of the "soft" puppets are by Steve Axtell -- including an elephant who squirts kids in the front row, a dragon who has fire come out of his nose and a drawing board that comes alive. At the end of every adult show Gandelman becomes a comedian, doing some topical standup and customized comedy material without his characters.
A highlight of all shows (kids, family and adult): he gets five volunteers from the audience who put on wigs and "throws" his voice into them as they lip sync a moldy oldie...
His school assemblies at all grade levels have been acclaimed for their "Learning Through Laughter" technique that uses laughs to communicate and help students retain serious information on themes such as anti-drug, anti-tobacco, character, respect, no teasing/no bullying, diversity and pro-reading. Besides his set themes, Gandelman routinely customizes school programs with themes or key concepts of their choice -- at no additional cost. He has performed his school assemblies all over the country. One consistent comment: teachers enjoy the assemblies as much as the students.
In October 2008, he appeared on a segment of comedian Margaret Cho's VH1 reality show, "The Cho Show" in which he was seen visiting her house and teaching her ventriloquism, which she later used in the episode in a talent show. (The segment showed about two minutes of Joe but Cho was having fun and the lesson ran some 30 minutes...)
Adult corporate show clients are given a basic customization form so Joe can add some inside jokes. Puppets include the wisecracking dummy Raven, a genie head in a box, three dogs, a drawing board that comes alive, a crying baby -- and many MORE.
Joe Gandelman also does how to do ventriloquism workshops. Some are short segments added onto hour long programs for camps, libraries or schools. Some venues have asked for longer workshops. A corporation in Irvine, CA hired Joe to do a special three hour how to do ventriloquism workshop for its salesmen (the testimonial is on Joe's regular website).
I'm not influenced by many ventriloquists: more by comedians and comedy teams. Ventriloquists Jimmy Nelson (of the old Nestles Quick commercials) ,Paul Winchell, Senor Wences and Ron Lucas. Classic comedians Jackie Gleason, Laurel & Hardy Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, and most of all Jack Benny (SEVERAL people say my timing and the way characters give me a hard time reminds them of the Benny show). Gary Shandling (his standup and both of his wonderful shows), Larry David and Steve Correll. I also watch comedians and comedy and (believe it or not) few ventriloquists.
What to Expect
Typical Gig Duration: 30 - 60 minutes
During his show (whether for a big venue or small) Joe Gandelman brings out a bunch of characters for short, punchy bits. Each character has its own personality. There's the wooden dummy, an elephant that squirts water, a dragon that sprays (fake) smoke, several dogs, a crying baby and several interactive bits including (if music is set up) a lip sync where volunteers put on ratty wigs and lip sync a moldy oldie. His show is NOT an imitation of other ventriloquists who are on TV or cruises, but his own style. If its a family or kids venue the kids of all ages will go crazy over some of the puppet/dummy bits and interactive segments and it doesn't matter if its a mix of all ages including preschool. In special adult parties Joe sends out a customization form so he can put in some personal references and perhaps even some new or reworked jokes. His school assemblies are famous for their entertainment AND CONTENT value: he will offer the school the standard program, or a theme (No Bullying, no Drugs, Reading, Internet Safety, Character) and even customize a school show for a school at no extra charge. During his 2011-2012 national school tour on one day Joe did five schools shows in two states and one week.
Mike with mike stand (I do have a system but if you have one it's better), CD player if possible. At small parties I an bring my own but if it's on a state (school, fair festival) a better system is required so it's best to use your system
There's no special requirement except that whether it's a small or big venue the audience needs to be able to see and hear. The better the audience sees and hears the characters, the more alive they appear. Shows in huge gynmasiums are the most problematical: there has to be a sound system that makes the act audible. I usually have a small system (very small) and a medium sized system but always urge people to have their set up if they have one. This clearly does not apply to a private adult or child's part in a home but at a school, fair, festival, convention it is helpful. I don't use the lapel mikes or headset mikes, only a mike on a mikestand (wired or unwired). if it's a wireless hand held mike there needs to be a mike stand since I have to have both hands free. If I'm driving to an event I always have a mike stand in my car.
2006: 500 gigs
2007: 500 gigs
2008: 500 gigs
2009: 500 gigs
2010: 450 gigs
2011: 350 gigs
Available for Your
Anniversary Party, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party, Birthday Party, Casting Call, Church Service, Concert Venue, Convention, Corporate Event, Cruise, Ethnic Celebration, Fair, Festival, Fundraiser, Halloween Party, Holiday Party, Luncheon/Tea, Parade, Private Party, Restaurant, Wedding Reception, Workshop