Traveling ventriloquist stops at Brennan’s Pub

Working as an entertainer for more than 25 years, ventriloquist and comedian Michael Harrison- best known for his stint on “America’s Got Talent” in 2008 — performed in Brennan’s on Thursday, April 7. Brought to UVM by the UVM Program Board, Harrison performed students that filtered in and out of Brennan’s throughout the hour-long show. Inspired to compete on “America’s Got Talent” after ventriloquist Terry Fator was declared the winner of the show the previous year, he is currently on tour across the northeast. The Canadian entertainer has traveled across the country. “I’m a traveling, touring entertainer,” Harrison said when opening the show. Working everywhere from Las Vegas to New York, his most recent career venture was working to entertain children and families on the Disney cruise lines. “I have the best job,” Harrison said. “It’s taken me around the world. I get to see places I would never get to see otherwise.” Harrison became a ventriloquist and performer as a way to deal with the social anxieties he held as a child. “People ask me one question all the time,” Harrison said. “Why? Why be a ventriloquist? Well, I had no friends. Now I have hundreds. It’s better than e-harmony. It’s great.” “You’re going to see some things tonight that you wont see in the normal entertainment world. I’m a ventriloquist,” Harrison said. Praising ventriloquism for the humor and creativity it provides, Harrison uses his comedy to provide relief in every day situations. “The best part of ventriloquism is that you can always make a voice come from places it shouldn’t come from. I was a pallbearer once. My family has no sense of humor,” he said while laughing. Opening the show, Harrison brought out a puppet made from a tennis ball. He instructed audience members how to make a puppet, then proceeded to do a comedy sketch between a tennis ball and tennis racquet. He then brought four audience members on stage and proceeded to mix hypnotism into his entertainment routine. Under hypnosis, the four volunteers created a backward leaning tabletop formation, as they rested their heads on each other’s laps. As Harrison removed the chairs, the participants were able to remain stable, supporting themselves with just their legs. He further incorporated audience participation into his routine, by recruiting an audience member to create a human puppet, garnering loads of laughs from show attendees. The audience was mixed in their reviews of the entertainer, though. “I thought he was a decent performer,” sophomore Mackenzie Wise said. “It wasn’t a good venue for the kind of performer he was, though, because it was poorly advertised. People were mainly coming to eat, not necessarily to hear him, so there weren’t as many audience members as I’m sure he’s used to.” Despite the mixed reviews, Harrison incorporated humor, ventriloquism, hypnotism, and audience participation into his act.