by Daniel McKenzie
FOR his latest show iTed E, puppet master David Strassman didn't have to look too far left of modern society's centre for inspiration.
"It's so the now," the American ventriloquist said of his new show, a satirical take on technology-laden lives.
"We're all stuck on our phones - Instagram, Twitter - not interacting with each other. America elected an idiot president because of social media."
That relationship shared between society and technology forms the basis of iTED E, which Strassman describes as his most difficult and technologically advanced show yet.
Along for the ride are the sharp-tongued Chuck Wood and Ted E, who have been thrust into the world of
social media, relinquishing their interactions with the real world.
"I'm pissed off because Chuck and Teddy are on their phones and I can't get them off their devices," Strassman said.
The show is a progression for Strassman, who has come along way since performing as a ventriloquist at birthday parties as a 14-year-old in his native California.
Crafting his show since the early 1990s, Strassman was the first ventriloquist doing stand-up, after having to stray from his first career choice.
"I wanted to be an astronaut but couldn't do that with drug use in high school," Strassman said with a laugh.
Studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Strassman returned to ventriloquism, busking in Central Park in New York, Leicester Square, London and Paris, while growing his act in New York Comedy clubs.
"I made my way up to headliner in the 1980s alongside Jim Carey and Eddie Murphy. Those guys were my contemporaries," he said.
Fast forward to 2017 and iTED E introduces new technology, as Strassman attempts to connect with his zombie-like characters, while bringing the world's most advanced puppetronics to life.
Combined with cutting edge lighting and production, Strassman said his well-known puppet characters will bring mayhem and theatrics to the set.
"I'm breaking the law of physics. I operate five puppets with a hand-held device, throw my voice in six ways in argument and discussion of what is real and what's not," Strassman said.
"That's never been done in history; it's mind-blowing, jaw dropping, it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my career."
- At the Byron Theatre, 68 Jonson St, Byron Bay, on Friday, March 16, 7pm. $64.90. Rated MA. No under-12 children admitted.