Strassman with Chuck Wood
September 6, 1957 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Influences||Edgar Bergen|
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.
Early life 
Strassman, the 2nd of 4 children, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California on September 6, 1957. His father Dr. Harvey D. Strassman was a psychiatrist and medical academic. His mother Marjorie Mae Bell (12/16/1926 - 7/4/1999, born in Colorado) was a nurse. Strassman lived in West Los Angeles until age 8, 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 Horowitz.
Horowitz 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.
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 and Ted E's Farewell Tour (2010) – Volume 4.
In 2010, he performed the play Duality, 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 has been credited in various movie titles, including The Wanderers - directed by Philip Kaufman, Roger Cormans - Humanoids of the Deep and T.A.G. The assassination game - directed by Nick Castle.
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 talking puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy. Makes rude and crude jokes, makes fun of other characters, spits and vomits. Can also be remotely controlled. In Strassman Live, Chuck dreams of becoming a real boy, and tries to do so by summoning the blue fairy, but it is suggested by Dave, that Chuck's magical chant pissed her off. His second attempt, was to sell Ted E. Bare to Kevin, who loves teddy bears... with sauce. But Kevin gives Ted E. back, claiming he ate all the chocolates. Chuck finally tries plan C, which is to contact Satan himself, but Satan reveals that he created Chuck and Chuck's the reason he was kicked out of Heaven and turned evil, and besides, he already has his soul. Chuck then tries to kill himself, but he wakes up to discover that it was all a dream. In Strassman Live: Volume Two, Chuck is responsible for Teddy's disappearance. Chuck, and Ted E. both developed a habit of eating their pets. When Teddy threatened to leave, and thus get all the attention, he claimed that he was a homosexual, but couldn't get through a verbal word association Test.
- Ted E. Bare - Naive, inquisitive, often the butt of Chuck's jokes and pranks. In Strassman Live, Teddy was ashamed of his appearance because of a traumatic dream he had. He later reveals to Dave that he ate his pet turtle after Chuck tricked him into it, but later on, he developed a liking to it. He went missing in Volume Two because of Chuck's rudeness towards him. Chuck also was a big part of him deciding to leave in "Teddy's Farewell Tour."
- Sid Beaverman - Aspiring stand-up hack comic who continually gets Strassman's name wrong. Variations include Mr. Stinking Human, Mr. Slippery Nipple, Mr. Stresselman, Mr. Stetzenhat, Mr. Sizzlestick, and Mr. Sicklehyer. He also auditioned for both Chuck and Teddy's replacement on two occasions. When auditioning for Teddy, he began to furiously insult Dave, ending it with, "So do I get the job?" He was also his own judge (and still failed).
- Kevin - Similar in appearance to Crazy Frog, Kevin is a blue alien from outer space and has an unpronounceable name. He thinks he is wiser than humans and makes slip-ups that his race will take over the planet. His planet of origin seems to change from Orgog to a variant of his name. In Strassman Live Kevin claims he Earthised his name and that his name in his language is Eillconachuraiaiaiaicasaheykevinnewreyrunginahansolo (to which Chuck replied "Would you like to buy a vowel?"). Kevin believes he can tell a human's future using Astrology and tells of an obscure apocalypse ("In your last days, there will be flying jellyfish... you actually believed that? How stupid could you get? They'll be walking! Duh!").
- Vinny - A dolphin and a private detective whom Strassman hires to help find Teddy in The Chuck You Tour DVD, but for some reason, he only thinks of himself and has no clues, so he ends up getting sacked by Strassman. He's not in Strassman's show anymore.
- Grandpa Fred - Teddy's long-lost grandfather who is featured on the Chuck You Tour DVD. He seems to be the exact opposite of his grandson, although he once was possessed by Chuck (who once again left naughty pictures in his head) as well. After his first appearance, Grandpa Fred's voice makes a complete change for an unknown reason.
- The Crows - Strassman's robotic puppets who are aspiring musicians and when commanded to begin, they can't seem to stop sneezing or burping. They have also been substituted by three dinosaurs who actually sing.
- A.N.G.E.L - Strassman's first female puppet, A.N.G.E.L is a robot. A special mechanism is required to make Strassman's voice sound female, and is currently appearing in Strassman's show.
- Little Ricky / Baby - A baby that Strassman picks up when its parents go to the casino. He also auditioned to be Teddy's replacement under the name Baby. His explanation for his parents leaving him this time was, "They're out getting pissed." He is an innocent young boy who Chuck repeatedly attempts to manipulate and corrupt. Luckily, Ricky has a tendency to mishear Chucks words. (For example when Chuck called Little Ricky a little bastard to which Ricky replied "I am not a little mustard!")
- Mr. Invisible - An auditioner for Teddy's replacement. Dave requires his stage hand to put on what would be assumed as a complex puppet. In fact, the segment was made up entirely of Dave talking to his hand (to which Chuck says, "Strassman's finally lost it! Strassman's finally lost it!"). Dave accidentally frustrates him by asking, "Do you have any special talents?" This prompted him to say, "...I'm invisible."
- Guido the Teddy Impersonator - A sleazy character who looks almost exactly the same as Teddy, but with a misshapen head. He was apparently put in jail for impersonating Teddy (and other crimes, such as drugs and prostitution). He also tried to replace Teddy when he tried to leave the show.
- Mumbles - A dog and another potential replacement for Teddy. Strassman was quite happy to give him a shot, but realized that he forgot to make him a mouth and had to fail him.
- Charley - Though not actually a puppet, Charley is the commercially available programmable robot, Robonova, from Hitec. Dave brought out Charley, a small toy puppet. just for kicks while the auditions were taking place. At first Dave pretends to shoot Charley and he reacts in the expected way and other such cheap tricks. Chuck then instructed him to do several difficult tasks (stand on one leg and act like a chicken, do a cartwheel, do a handstand), which he accomplished with ease. Chuck, as it turns out, hacked Strassman's computer to take control of Charley. His final instruction: kill the audience. Dave scoffs at the idea until he is forced to get rid of the menacingly approaching robot. Chuck remarks that it would take Charley six months to reach the front row.
- David Strassman at IMDB