There is something so funny about a man and his cast of puppets engaging the world and that is what ventriloquist and comedian Paul Zerdin does with “Paul Zerdin: Mouthing Off.” Celebrating his first-ever headlining production on the Las Vegas Strip, “Mouthing Off” continues to draw crowds at the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.
Zerdin’s cast of characters includes an infant known as Baby, Sam on verge of adolescence and the older, belligerent Albert. Albert and Sam love the ladies, cursing and speaking without a filter while Baby tries to emulate everyone on stage. “I am loving my show and constantly add new bits to it every time,” he told AXS.com. “It is evolving. The stand-up comedy keeps it fresh.” Production values, animatronics and technology also enhance the show as well as Zerdin interacting with members of the audience.
The British performer was always fascinated with puppets and ventriloquism but also picked up some tricks and first started out as a magician on BBC’s “Tricky Business.” It was the 1990s and, with the rise of the popularity of competitive talent shows, Zerdin won LWT’s “The Big Big Talent Show” in 1996. As the winner, he would meet Nigel Lythgoe, the creator of television programs including “Popstars” and “American Idol.” To stand out from other ventriloquists, Zerdin introduced stand-up comedy into his routine.
It was still a long road from Great Britain to winning Season 10 of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Zerdin performed on cruise ships, including those with a large number of American tourists. “I remember the first time I performed before an American audience. I discovered there were things I needed to change. The general humor in my act worked but I used words that Americans don’t say or understand. For example, a punch line with the word lift didn’t get a reaction but when I said elevator, the audience understood and laughed,” he explained. “Sometimes there are people in the front row not laughing while the rest of the audience is laughing hysterically. I realized that it was still funny but English was not the first language for these people in the front row,” Zerdin said.
It was this experience that prepared him for “America’s Got Talent” and his residency show in Las Vegas.
According to Zerdin, “People of all ages and from all places still love entertainment whether magic or ventriloquism.” While these forms of entertainment have been around since the last century, it is being presented in a new and original way, which keeps audiences coming back. He credits Las Vegas headliner Terry Fator for showing audiences that ventriloquism can combine impersonation, singing and comedy. In fact, one of Zerdin’s puppets does an impersonation with a nod to Fator.
Before his residency, Zerdin had visited Las Vegas many times and enjoyed the entertainment on the Las Vegas Strip. “I was always inspired by the shows, its enormity and spectacle. Las Vegas is amazing.”
“Paul Zerdin: Mouthing Off” performs inside the PH Showroom at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday and dark on Mondays. Tickets can be purchased in person at the PH Showroom box office, by calling 800-745-3000, or by clicking here.