November 28, 2014

Ventriloquist, dummies entertain at Arenac Eastern

John Fischer
Dave parker and his dummy Skippy how the audience a book that helped Dave master his craft of ventriloquism.
John Fischer
Skippy and Dave talk with some Arenac Eastern students attending Family Fun Night.
John Fischer
Skippy, Dave and Claire.
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By John Fischer|Staff writer
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TWINING — Dave Parker, of Marquette has practiced ventriloquism for over 24 years in states all across the Northern Midwest with his wooden-buddy Skippy, performed over 1,000 shows, made several DVDs and on March 25, he entertained a group of about 75 students and parents as part of Arenac Eastern and Community in Action’s Family Fun night.

According to Parker, who likens his style to that of Mr. Rogers – a low-key act, performed Thursday as part of his 15-week school tour sponsored by Dynamic West Assembly, a children’s entertainment company out of Keego Harbor near Detroit, during which he sang songs, performed ventriloquist tricks (talking while drinking water and singing two voices at once) and even involved many of the children in attendance into his act featuring dummies: Skippy, boy, Claire, girl, and Mozart, a dog.

The Arenac Independent caught up with Parker after his performance for a little Q & A:

How did you get involved in ventriloquism?

Parker: “I was playing guitar in coffee houses back in 1984, and I decided I needed to do something different. I had always been intrigued by ventriloquism, so I took a course through Maher Ventriloquist Studios and checked out every book I could find in the library.”

What other jobs did you have before becoming a ventriloquist?

Parker: “I owned my own video production company for eight years, I was a substitute teacher and a guitar player.”

You mentioned that you have DVD’s of your performances. How many DVDs have you made?

Parker: “Four. The latest one is ‘Winter Wonderland,’ which shows kids all different kinds of activities to do in the winter. There’s also a book, called ‘Dustin’s Big School Day.’ It’s about a second-grader who’s waiting all day for us (Skippy and Dave) to come to his school. It was written ten years ago by Alden Carter, who’s written over 41 books, and we read that as part of our performance.”

What are some other kinds of shows do you do?

Parker: “In the Midwest, I do a Lewis and Clark show and earlier today (March 25) I did an anti-bullying show at Standish.”

Do you have a Website?

Parker: “We do have a Web site, Skippyanddave.com. You can go on there and see a clip of the MEA (Michigan Education Association) commercial I did. There’s two songs. There’s a contest where kids can go on and name a new dummy. I’ve been so busy lately with the tour, it’s kind of hard to keep it updated, there’s so much more I’d like to do with it. A child suggested, at the Standish show, that he liked the words to one of my songs and asked if I had the lyrics anywhere. I didn’t have a copy, so he suggested that I put the lyrics to my songs on the Web site.

What shows do you have coming up?

Parker: “(Aside from the School Tour) I’m doing the assembly line concert in Ferndale for the Big 3, which is like a 104-hour concert.”

Is there anything you’d like people to know about ventriloquism?

Parker: “It’s something anyone can learn, like a musical instrument. There are lots of books out there to learn from. Ventriloquism is at a high point right now, with guys like Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central and Terry Fator, who won America’s Got Talent. He beat out all of these singers. He can make his dummies that look like real singers sing just as good as the real singers. So now’s a good time to be a ventriloquist.”

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