As a fifth grader working on a Valentine’s Day report, Terry fator passed the “Va” books in the school library and ended up at “Ve”.
He pulled out a book on ventriloquism and forgot about his mission. The rest, as they say, is history.
“America’s Got Talent” winner and Las Vegas headliner, Fator will bring his number to The Palace Theater in Greensburg at 7:30 p.m. on December 8.
The spectators will be treated to an evening of ventriloquism, comedy and music, thanks to Fator and his stable of puppet personalities.
âThere’s a lot of comedy, there’s going to be a holiday element – a lot of fun, a lot of great characters,â he said.
Contrary to the sometimes popular perception of ventriloquism as quaint and cheesy, Fator said, âMy humor is smart. My show is clean, like a Pixar movie – there are elements that both kids and adults can enjoy.
âIt’s perfect for a romantic date and for a family night out with the kids,â he said.
Etta and Elvis
Some of Fator’s lively alter egos include country singer Walter T. Airdale, Johnny Vegas, Winston the Impersonating Turtle, the world’s greatest Elvis impersonator, Elton John, Vicki the Cougar, and a boring neighbor called Duggie.
His musical knock-offs cover everyone from Etta James to Justin Timberlake.
âI’m going from modern to classic. Whatever era of music you like, you’ll hear some of it on my show, âhe said.
A few weeks after reading this book on ventriloquism, Fator bought his first model for $ 10 from Sears. His first professional success came soon after in the form of a $ 25 prize at a church picnic.
Fator said his family had saved up to buy him his first professional model as a gift for his 18th birthday.
In his early 20s, the Texas native – now 56 – toured as the lead vocalist for Freedom Jam. He introduced Walter T. Airdale to the public in the late 1980s while singing with a performing group called Texas the Band.
After leaving this group, he perfected a single act combining comedy and ventriloquism, eventually adding vocals and imitations. Success followed in the form of appearances at corporate events and openings for artists such as Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Neal McCoy and Styx.
Fator reached the “America’s Got Talent” scene in 2007 at the age of 42. Not only did he win Season 2, but he received praise from notoriously strict judge Simon Cowell, who called him “one of the two best performers on the planet.”
Winning ‘AGT’ was “the big break I’ve worked my whole life for,” Fator said. The following year, he signed a deal to headline his own show, “Terry Fator: The VOICE of Entertainment,” at the Mirage Hotel & Casino.
He doesn’t let praise and success get to his head, he said.
âI’m not doing this for my ego; I do it for my fans, âhe said. âI like to make people happy; I like to make them laugh. I consider myself a joy evangelist – I want to spread joy wherever I go.
Fator said he also strongly believes in the diffusion of wealth.
“I only need so much money,” he said. âI want to make sure my wife and family are taken care of, and after that I want to find the need and try to fill it. There are so many needs out there, and I don’t have to die sitting on a pile of money.
Its causes include helping disabled veterans, children of deceased service members, and children’s charities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Although he’s used to big stages and bright lights, Fator said he likes smaller venues like showrooms in Las Vegas and theaters like The Palace.
âI like to think of it like entertaining people in their living room,â he said. âEstablishing a connection is more difficult if you are too far away. And they love to see the puppets and see that your lips are not moving.
Tickets for Fator’s show in Greensburg cost between $ 54 and $ 74, available by calling 724-836-8000 or online at thepalacetheatre.org.