Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5 Questions | Todd Oliver

Comic, ventriloquist who 'talks' to dogs coming to Largo

Todd Oliver will perform with Lucy, left, Irving and Elvis on Friday at the Largo Cultural Center. The veteran ventriloquist added dogs to his act in 1996.

Special to the Times

Todd Oliver will perform with Lucy, left, Irving and Elvis on Friday at the Largo Cultural Center. The veteran ventriloquist added dogs to his act in 1996.

LARGO — When most dog owners attempt to teach their dog to "speak,'' victory is found in a single bark. For Todd Oliver and his pooches, however, success comes in complete sentences. Oliver, along with his Boston terrier, Irving, a West Highland mix, Lucy, and a basset hound, Elvis, will appear Friday at the Largo Cultural Center. The show, billed as "Todd Oliver's Dogs Gone Wild Tour,'' will be an evening of comedic chitchat between the comedian/ventriloquist and the canines. Oliver received his first ventriloquist dummy at the age of 10 as a Christmas present, and he learned the art of ventriloquism by checking out books on the subject from the Minneapolis Public Library during his middle school years. "By the time I was 13, I was doing shows at schools in the area, and by 16, I knew I had no interest in pursuing a college education because I was already doing six to nine shows a week,'' he said. For 20 years, Oliver had a successful career in comedy and ventriloquism, but in 1996, he realized it was time to come up with new ideas. "I asked myself, 'What would my dog have to say?' The show came from there,'' he said. For the past 13 years, Oliver has headlined with his dogs on the Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Mo. They've also appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman, the Tonight Show With Jay Leno and the Today Show. We caught up with the entertainer by phone Dec. 22 from his 20-acre ranch outside Branson, where he lives with his wife, Melissa Woidela, their daughter, Isabelle, 5, five horses and seven dogs.

1 Can you give me a hint as to how you get those dogs to talk? It's an illusion that I invented.

2 What's harder, getting the dogs to cooperate or for you to be funny all the time? It's always a challenge when it comes to creating the material for the show. The dogs are easy. Remember, the talking is just an illusion.

3 Do you think you're a better comedian or better ventriloquist? I think it's all rolled up into one thing because I've been doing the show for so long. But the fact is that I love family comedy, clean comedy. Here's the deal. When I was growing up, one of the great memories I have is me, my parents and grandparents laughing at the same joke. When the family can laugh together, I think that's one of the most important things in childhood.

4 If someone wanted to take your career path, what would you say is the first step? In order to succeed at both comedy and ventriloquism, you have to first realize you have to be bad at it before you're good at it. When I was 13 and doing mother-in-law jokes, it didn't go over very well. But I kept doing it. I had the dummy in one hand and the joke book in the other. It takes practice.

5 Are the dogs taking an airplane to Florida? We never fly. For the show, we usually travel in two cars, and the dogs ride in an SUV with me.

.

The show

What: Todd Oliver's Dogs Gone Wild Tour

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive

Tickets: $30 advance, $35 VIP, $35 at the door. Call the box office at (727) 587-6793.

Comic, ventriloquist who 'talks' to dogs coming to Largo 01/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 1, 2011 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies: Wimauma teacher's aide sexually molested teen, 13

    Crime

    A Wimauma teacher's aide faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl.

    Sonny Juarez, 29, a teacher's aide in Wimauma, faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl on several occasions while working at the RCMA Wimauma Academy, 18236 U.S. 301 S, between November 2016 and March 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

  2. Tampa Bay deputies head to UF to assist with Richard Spencer's speech

    Public Safety

    Local deputies are heading up to Alachua County in preparation of white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville on Thursday.

    Law enforcement is stepped up in Gainesville on Oct. 18, 2017, ahead of Richard Spencer's appearance. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges sexual abuse by team doctor

    Olympics

    Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

    U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses after completing her routine on the vault during the Artistic Gymnastic women's qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Maroney posted a statement on Twitter Oct. 18, 2017, in which she said she was molested for years by former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. [Associated Press]
  4. Top 5 at Noon: Facts on Richard Spencer's Florida visit; Column: Jameis, don't be a hero; Locale Market changes again

    News

    Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

    White nationalist Richard Spencer (C) and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police in Emancipation Park after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spencer is set to speak at the University of Florida. [Getty]
  5. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Uncertainty surrounds Jameis Winston's health

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks about the Bucs' quarterback situation, with uncertainty around Jameis Winston's health, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Jameis Winston takes the field for warmups before the Bucs' game against the Cardinals Sunday in Glandale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]