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Topic: Terry Fator's "Who's The Dummy Now?"--a review
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Mar 21, 2009 08:03PM)
I recently finished reading Terry Fator's autobiography, "Who's The Dummy Now?", and I thought I'd write a short review.

When I first got the book I thought that the title was unfortunate--I'm so sick of ventriloquial headlines and titles with the d-word in them. But after reading the book, one finds out whom the question is directed at, and the title makes sad sense.

To many in the public, Fator must seem like an overnight sensation, but as you might expect, his path to stardom was really a 20 year journey. He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a ventriloquist, and performed for church groups. His father (more about whom later) wanted Terry to be a preacher, and Terry convinced his father that he could use ventriloquism in his preaching. Hence, the ventriloquism was approved. As a child, Terry also loved music and would imitate singers he heard on the radio. That ability paid off later.

On one level, we performers will enjoy the story of Terry's evolution as a performer and of his successes and failures along the way. But the book has a very serious undertone. Fator's father was both physically and psychologically abusive to Terry, his mother, and his siblings. No matter how well Terry did at [i]anything[i], his father told him that he was lousy. When Terry performed well and receive accolades, his father told him that he only fooled people into thinking he was good. The father moved the family all over Texas, seemingly on a whim, so Terry never made long-lasting friends. Also, the father ran a building-cleaning service and forced his family to be the janitors while he "supervised." So Terry had a more than full time job while going to school. Interestingly, he often used the long hours working alone to practice vent.

There is story after story of the father's abuse, while Terry was all the while trying to please him and win his approval. This is all relayed in a matter-of-fact style that, I suspect, hides very real pain. Terry became estranged from his father some years ago, but the father's malignant presence is a constant throughout the book. Even after Terry won AGT, he never heard from his father. By all reports, Terry Fator is a very nice man, and it's really a triumph on his part to overcome the dysfunctional family environment his father created.

I think you will all particularly enjoy the behind the scenes stories of Terry's participation of AGT--how he chose the songs to sing, his relationship with the judges and the other contestants, etc. He is rightfully proud of his accomplishments, and one can forgive the gloating. On the other hand, you will also learn of the incredible amount of work Terry put into his act to make it appear easy. We all know there are very few people who can do what he does ventriloquially, but as talented as he is, he still practiced day and night for years.

The book is written in a workman-like manner, and one suspects a ghost-writer helped out. Some controversial events are understandably glossed over. For instance, when he first won AGT, I'm pretty sure that Terry said his manager gave him the idea of combining ventriloquism with his musical impersonations. Well, Terry has since left that manager and is being sued by him. So in the book, the manager's reputed role in creating the act is left out.

All in all, this is quick, enjoyable read. You'll get the feeling both that you know Terry a little better and that there is a lot left unsaid. And you'll certainly agree on who the dummy is.

You can order it from Amazon here:

Happy reading.

Message: Posted by: creativemac (Mar 21, 2009 08:38PM)
Yes Bob, I found it very interesting reading. I was even able to FIND and get a copy of it at my local library.
Message: Posted by: marshalldoll (Mar 22, 2009 07:38AM)
Bob that was a great review. Today I also have a very good review posted about Terry's new show at the Mirage. It is todays blog. I hope everyone takes a look.
Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Mar 23, 2009 03:05AM)

I didn't know this had hit the streets yet. Thanks for the word up, and the review!

Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Mar 29, 2009 12:16AM)
Skimmed the book at a library today and it looks good enough to buy. Seems genuinely written from the heart.

Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Apr 11, 2009 03:04AM)
Half way through Fator's book. What a story so far!

Message: Posted by: Professor DoDad (Apr 23, 2009 07:09PM)
Not a bad read at all! Very interesting forsure.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jun 12, 2009 08:56AM)
I am about 1/3 of the way through.

What a great read. As a musician, I love the stories about the band of five.

Thanks for letting me know, as I had not heard or read about the book being written/published. I got it through inter library loan.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 12, 2009 01:46PM)
Bought it (Also recently bought Schaibley's book. Currently reading it), read it, really liked it.
Would have liked MORE pictures and MORE craft talk...but I gotta tell ya, I don't think there's an evil bone in his body. A good guy (whom I voted for multiple times) who deserves his success.
Might go back and read it again when I finish Schaibley.