Strassman with Chuck Wood
September 6, 1957 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
David "Dave" Strassman (born September 6, 1957) is an American ventriloquist, stand-up comedian, actor, voice artist, and comedian. He is best known for his ventriloquism act with Chuck Wood and Ted E. Bare.
Strassman, the second of four children, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California on September 6, 1957. His father Harvey D. Strassman (September 19, 1922 – January 30, 2011) was a psychiatrist and medical academic. His mother Marjorie Mae Bell (December 16, 1926 – July 4, 1999), born in Colorado was a nurse. Strassman lived in West Los Angeles until age eight, when his family moved to Monterey Hills of South Pasadena.
After a visit to the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, Dave asked his father to purchase some professional magic tricks which led to his interest in magic and ventriloquism. This led to him performing for local children in his neighbourhood. Dave started his education in Ventriloquism in junior high school where he undertook a ventriloquism class as an elective alternative, taught by local Chicago children's television host Steve Hart.
Hart played an integral part in Strassman’s early career by showing him how to promote himself in the local paper, which led to him performing paid magic and ventriloquism shows at children's birthday parties. While attending New Trier West, in Chicago, Strassman took up acting and theatre. He performed in plays and musicals and learned improvisation.
Strassman studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Instead of proceeding to the second year, he chose to be a street performer, performing in New York, London, and Paris. Unable to perform in French, Strassman got a job performing magic and mime at the now-closed L'aiglon nightclub in Pigalle.
He started performing in New York's comedy clubs, with late-night spots at the Improv and Comic Strip. Throughout the '80s, Strassman worked at comedy clubs throughout the United States, as an opening act, then middle act and headliner. In 1980, Strassman (along with his main ventriloquist character Chuck Wood) came out in Roger Corman's horror movie Humanoids from the Deep Other acting credits include The Wanderers - directed by Philip Kaufman and T.A.G. The Assassination Game, directed by Nick Castle.
In 1986, Strassman placed robotics in Chuck, inspired by his remote-controlled airplane hobby, and originated in the early 1950s by New York ventriloquist Stanley Burns. At the end of his act, Strassman would get into an argument with Chuck Wood and leave the stage. Chuck would then appear to come to life, using radio-controlled robotics with Strassman speaking into an off-stage microphone.
In 1991, Strassman performed at The Comedy Club, Melbourne, Australia as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Strassman has since performed frequently throughout Australia on national tours. He also performs in theatres in New Zealand and the UK.
He had an eponymous television talk show called Strassman on Channel Nine, Australia, where his puppet character, Chuck Wood, interviewed celebrities. Subsequent series were produced in England on ITV, and in New Zealand on TV2.
Strassman has 4 DVD titles. Strassman Live (1999),  – Volume 1 The Chuck You Tour. (2003)  - Volume 2, The Get Chuck'd Tour (2007) – Volume 3, Ted E's Farewell Tour (2010) – Volume 4 and "Be Careful what You Wish For" (2014) - Volume 5 - 
In 2010, he performed the play, written and directed by Steve Altman, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Duality is a two-character play about a mentally-ill ventriloquist, Jack, who talks to himself through a puppet named Zack. Throughout Duality, Strassman's character "talks" to his ventriloquist puppet as it sits lifeless in a chair, he operates it manually with his hand in the back, and controls the puppet through wireless robotics.
Strassman's latest show Be Careful What you Wish For is in run in Australia until December 2013.
Strassman's theatrical performance includes "Duality" written and directed by Steve Altman.
He has also appeared on numerous television shows in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK.
Puppet characters voiced by Strassman include:
- Chuck Wood - A 1950's era looking wooden ventriloquist puppet who's character makes rude and crude jokes, fun of other characters, spits and vomits. Can also be remotely controlled. In Strassman Live,
- Ted E. Bare - A soft Teddybear hand puppet who's character is naive, inquisitive, slow, and is often the butt of Chuck's jokes and pranks.
- Sid Beaverman - is a North American beaver who's character is an aspiring stand-up hack comic.
- Kevin - An Alien puppet made of foam latex and controlled manually by Strassman. Similar in appearance to Crazy Frog
- Grandpa Fred - An older version of the "Ted E. Bare" character who has dementia.
- The Dinosaurs - Strassman's robotic dinosaur puppets who sing pre-recorded songs.
- A.N.G.E.L - Strassman's first female puppet, A.N.G.E.L is a robot android. A special mechanism is required to make Strassman's voice sound female, and is currently appearing in Strassman's current show.
- Charlie - Chuck Wood's twin character with facial hair and a shaved head.
- Buttons the Clown - A manually operated clown ventriloquist puppet who appears drunk.
- "OBITUARY: Dr. Harvey D. Strassman". www.legacy.com. Chicago Tribune. February 6, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2014.