In South Africa the word “puppet” has become synonymous with politicians being accused of being in the back pocket of a wealthy business family, but one Capetonian has made his career off being hilariously brilliant at bringing actual inanimate objects to life. After learning his craft at the College of Magic, Conrad Koch has been performing for over 15 years and has skillfully combined stand-up comedy and puppetry. He’s earned a reputation as one of the country’s funniest performers and he’s taking his talent to the world.
A ventriloquist would traditionally have a puppet to showcase a different voice and personality of the performer, often giving an artist the space to push the boundaries of what would otherwise seem a bit too risqué for audiences. Conrad’s taken it a step further with his wide range of characters and multi-media props that he brings to the stage. He is probably most well-known for Chester Missing – his puppet that has earned a strong reputation in the media as a sharp witted and fiery political commentator, a character that helped him bring stand-up comedy and ventriloquism together. Change is important for any performer and Conrad has worked hard to evolve in his act.
“I’ve spent the last three years trying to work out what I talk about outside of politics and making my act more global because I’ve always been a hard political satirist”.
If you’ve seen Conrad performing on a local comedy stage recently you would have noticed this evolution. His repertoire includes the sassy ostrich Hillary (built out of feather dusters and a slipper), a lion mask which he uses on an audience member, a Snapchat projection on a screen with another audience member, and two new characters – a mosquito and DJ puppet, which Conrad describes as his most adventurous project in his new show.
“Not only is it a weird sell, because I’m turning a hoodie into a puppet, but I’m also literally DJ-ing with my feet, while doing ventriloquism.”
He describes it as something that’s fresh and more suited to a global audience.
“I have always dreamed of making that finally crafted, super innovative, hilarious classic ventriloquism act. Something that compares to what you might see on America’s Got Talent or the big UK variety shows. It’s also far less political, and more family friendly comedy than my previous work.”
Puppet Guy is the new exciting show that Conrad is bringing to Cape Town and soon the rest of the world. It’s on at the Baxter Theatre from3 to 14 April and tickets are available at Webtickets.
Conrad spent some time on the Smile 90.4FM Sunday Night Comedy Hour this past weekend, talking about the show and also being subjected to some of the most hilariously bad jokes that Angel Campey and Phil de Lange could find for their Crack A Smile feature. Take a listen.