Teenagers are rare at Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator shows. Baby boomers and Gen Xers usually flock to see and hear the nation’s most popular ventriloquists.
The old-school art form seemed on the verge of extinction, but then came 17-year-old Darci Lynne Farmer, one of America’s hottest ventriloquists.
She fell in love with this art form in 2014.
“I never heard of ventriloquists until I was 9 years old,” Farmer said. “I learned about this from a friend and just thought it was the coolest thing.”
What: Ventriloquist Darci Lynne: “My Lips Are Sealed (Except When They’re Not)” Tour
Where: Riverside Casino Event Center, 3184 Highway 22, Riverside
When: 8 p.m. Saturday July 30, 2022
Tickets: Limited availability, $59; Casino Gift Shop, 1-(877) 677-3456 or riversidecasinoandresort.com/eventcenter.html
Artist’s website: darcilynne.com/
Soon after, Farmer decided to try learning to speak and sing with closed lips.
“I started learning on my own when I was about 10,” she said by phone from her home in Oklahoma City. “It was the start of this amazing journey. I had to work on it. Ventriloquism isn’t automatic. It took me hours, days and months to get to where I needed to be. But I don’t not regret a minute of all the efforts I have made.
She is a quick study. Within two years, Farmer won “America’s Got Talent,” as Darci Lynne. It was 2017 and the budding ventriloquist was only 12 years old.
“It was awesome,” she said. “It was so cool. It was an unforgettable experience.
Farmer, who will put on a nearly sold-out show Saturday at the Riverside Casino Event Center, has fun with his puppets: Petunia, a bunny; Oscar, a Motown mouse; and Edna, an elderly woman.
“I have so much fun with them,” she said. “It feels so natural right now.”
Continuing to perform as Darci Lynne, who is on her “My Lips Are Sealed (Except When They’re Not)” tour, said she owed much of her success to veteran ventriloquist Gary Owen.
“Gary taught me everything I know,” she said. “Gary taught me about timing and how to react to my puppets and how they should react to me. What I learned from Gary was invaluable. It’s important when you learn something to learn it the right way.
Expect an old-fashioned variety show when Darci Lynne performs.
“People say I’m an old soul because I love old-time entertainment,” she said. “In my house, we play Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley. I just saw the movie ‘Elvis’ with Tom Hanks and I absolutely loved it. I played the soundtrack over and over. My show will feel like a throwback, given the way I do things. I will talk with my puppets and I will sing for my puppets.
However, his career is not limited to ventriloquism. She hopes to break through as an actress and as a singer without puppets.
“I do solo songs without the puppets (during the show),” she said. “I want to have a solo career in music. I want to act. There are so many things I want to do.
Farmer, who is undecided about college, where she will likely major in music, has time.
“I’m not sure where I want to go when it comes to going to college,” she says. “I’ll probably take a year off.”
But one thing is certain, Farmer will continue to focus on ventriloquism.
“Why not me,” she said. “I love it. I’ve been to 48 states because of ventriloquism. This will be my second time to Iowa. All the experiences I’ve had as an artist have been great.
Farmer has the full support of his family.
“My mother taught me to sing and my father was like my mother – behind everything I did,” she said. “I can never thank them enough. There has always been music in my house and it has always been about being creative. I’m very lucky, because I found my niche, which is to entertain people. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Darci Lynne Farmer, who drops her last name when she performs, brings her art of ventriloquism to a nearly sold-out show Saturday, July 30, 2022 at the Riverside Casino Event Center. Now 17, she won “America’s Got Talent” at age 12. (Todd Rosenberg)