Ronn Lucas lives by his wits and wins over audiences with his perfectly delivered lines. However, there is one big difference between Ronn and every other successful stand-up comedian – half of his act is spent making other people, and other things, talk!
In a career that has taken him to four continents, Ronn Lucas has been adored by audiences and critically lauded around the globe for his astonishing vocal manipulation. He can make a basketball heckle while he blows up a balloon. He can trade jokes with his own microphone, and a toaster can do both rounds of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat". Additionally, he can turn any member of the audience into a life-sized singing dummy who delivers funny one-liners and even does some dance steps.
Unlike many in show business who push themselves to keep constantly in the spotlight, Ronn regularly drops out of performing to study new aspects of performance and to create new ways of entertaining an audience. It is this respect for his audience that makes Ronn Lucas one of the world's most interesting entertainers, and probably the first to ever mix vocal manipulation, stand-up comedy, improvisation and audience interaction into one performance.
WHEN RONN WAS A KID...
Before he formed the unique amalgamation of comedy, improv, vocalism and audience interaction, Ronn was a ventriloquist. He has put in more than12,775 hours practicing this art. It all began when he was seven and saw an old TV program in which ventriloquist Edgar Bergen appeared to make a baby talk, then came onstage with his acerbic companion, Charlie McCarthy, and scored a big hit with the audience. Using a record album called "Instant Ventriloquism" by Jimmy Nelson, Ronn spent nearly three years working to master the art of talking without moving his mouth. By the time he was in high school, he found he could call himself out of class by making his voice sound like an announcement on the school's P.A. system, "Mr. Lucas, come to the principal's office, now!"
After college, he took his act – the traditional ventriloquist/dummy routine – and played bars, honky-tonks, nightclubs, shopping mall openings, retail store promotions, private parties and anything else that came along. He logged 500 performances one year. The experience was invaluable. "I was very determined to be heard," Lucas says. "They were either going to laugh at me or laugh with me, but I sure wasn't going to be ignored. I learned early that an act using vocal manipulation could be accepted as more than a gimmick if done well.
"I also learned to think fast or duck. One night a drunk heckled me and I had one of the dummies heckle him back. The audience loved it, and when he kept it up, so did I. The crowd was roaring. The guy cursed the dummy and came up on stage ready for a fight. A couple of his buddies restrained him, but I wasn't in any danger because the guy was actually trying to punch out the dummy. It was a compliment, in a way, his believing the prop was talking, not me."
He accepted a long-term engagement to be a featured performer aboard the prestigious Royal Viking cruise line. This provided a measure of stability in an often chaotic business and Ronn took the opportunity to radically reform his act. Feeling limited by the standard wooden or plastic dummies used by every other vocalism performer, he began designing creature puppets. In so doing, he altered his entire profession. Just as his career was gathering momentum, he dropped out of performing to study stand-up comedy with Jim Richardson, the teacher of a radical comedy course in Northern California. As much as possible, Richardson works with performers in a clinical manner, even employing a stopwatch in assessing the delivery of a routine.
THE COMEDY CHAMPION ON BROADWAY...
Once he returned to the stage, Ronn was a new performer and his more disciplined approach (which ironically appears "looser" to the audience) helped him win several prestigious comedy competitions, including the National LAFF-OFF championships for SHOWTIME's cable network. Success followed success, with Lucas playing Broadway for two years, as the original ventriloquist in "Sugar Babies", making multiple appearances on "The Tonight Show", guest-starring on "Night Court" and "L.A. Law" (for which he received an Emmy nomination), and starring in a one-hour special on the Disney Channel. Also, he was invited twice to perform for President Reagan and twice for the royal family in Great Britain. Two successful television appearances in Great Britain lead to hosting his own top-rated television show in London for four years. As a result of these broadcasts and other European appearances, Ronn Lucas became much more of a recognized star overseas than in the U.S.
Once again, defying all show business convention, Lucas decided to pull back from performing in order to devise something new. One new idea involves asking a member of the audience to come onstage with him. "I tell them I need a volunteer to be my dummy. Then I try to find a guy who is frantically waving at me to choose his friend. Then I pick that guy instead." Once the guy has been cajoled into coming up onstage, Ronn gets him to don a special mask (created and designed by none other than Joel Hodgson of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' fame ) and right before your eyes, the man is transformed into a full-size, talking, singing and dancing dummy. Second, he has invented a way to use "found" objects and items the audience has with them to perform a funny and endlessly flexible routine. It's a heady mixture of stand-up comedy, audience interaction, comedic improvisation and, of course, his incredible feats of vocal manipulation.
He looks forward to every performance because it is impossible to predict what's going to happen. And he doesn't need to travel with so many props. "After all, there's no need to have a bunch of creatures, clowns or critters on stage with me when there's a new audience to select from every night." Using literally anything you can see, Ronn Lucas is now thrilling audiences as "The Man Who Can Make Anything Talk".