A VENTRILOQUIST will be showing he’s no dummy when he stops off in Stevenage as part of a five-week tour of the country.

Paul Zerdin will be demonstrating he’s a Puppet Master when visiting the Gordon Craig Theatre next week.

The comedian, who has appeared in The Royal Variety Performance three times, will be returning to the stage with a brand new show following the success of Edinburgh Festival hit Sponge Fest.

Paul’s work has also received high praise from national newspapers, The Guardian describing him as “Technically immaculate, it’s what he does with his slick talent that really sets him apart. His relationship with the characters has all the dramatic tension of a real life double act.”

Venue spoke to Paul ahead of his visit to the theatre in Lytton Way next Thursday, October 25, to find out more.

Asked how his career started, he said: “I’ve never had a proper job. I left school with two GCSEs and knew I wanted to go into show business.

“I never wanted to be a straight stand-up. As a kid, I watched Paul Daniels and David Copperfield, all those magic shows on television. And that’s all I ever wanted, to have a reason to be on stage, to be on television.

“My reason was to do magic or to do puppets. I never wanted to simply stand there and just do jokes or moan about things because I don’t have anything to moan about, I’ve had a really nice life.”

In Puppet Master Paul will be introducing new character Alasdair Rimmer, an out of work TV presenter who will be taking charge of MC duties on the tour.

“This is a brand new show and it’s all new material,” said Paul, who is also working on his own TV sitcom.

“We go out and try it in the comedy clubs and we keep tweaking it until it’s right for a national tour. Some characters I’ve played before so people may recognise those but either way there’s lots of audience participation.

“Mocking the front row is a trademark of my characters but I’m evolving my audience interaction beyond that. I’ve got this new section called ‘Ask Albert’ where people email in questions to my website www.paulzerdin.com and he’ll impart his wisdom. It really opens up the show and makes it more unpredictable.”

It won’t be the ventriloquist’s first brush with a Stevenage audience either, having played Buttons alongside Richard Whitmore in 1998 pantomime production of Cinderella.

“I made some great friends during the run and it’s a great theatre so I’m looking forward to returning,” he added.

Tickets for the show, which starts at 7.45pm, cost �16. Call the theatre on 01438 866210 or visit www.gordon-craig.co.uk to book.

? The Comet is offering readers two pairs of tickets to see Puppet Master.

To be in with a chance of winning, answer this simple question:

How many times has Paul Zerdin appeared in The Royal Variety Performance?

A – Once

B – Three times

C – Five times

Text TC PUPPET followed by your answer (A, B or C) and your name and postcode to 80058.

Texts cost 50p, plus your standard network rate. The competition closes on Tuesday, October 23, at midday.

Usual promotion rules apply – visit www.thecomet24.co.uk. Customer services – 0207 6335020.