Paul Zerdin Biography
Paul Zerdin is a British comedian and ventriloquist. He was born on 21 August 1972 in London, UK.
He got his first puppet from a family friend when he was 10 years old and his love of performing was born. The star’s act mainly features an adorable puppet called Sam, but Paul also features a pensioner puppet called Albert and a third character called Baby.
Zerdin made his TV debut as a magician on the BBC’s Tricky Business and shortly afterwards, at the age of 20, landed a two-year contract presenting the Disney produced kids’ programme Rise and Shine for GMTV.
In 1996, Zerdin was the first outright winner of LWT’s The Big Big Talent Show. The experience on The Big Big Talent Show introduced him to Nigel Lythgoe, who took Zerdin under his wing, paving the way for appearances shows including Tonight at the London Palladium, and Generation Game. He secured him a spot on the Prince’s Trust Gala Show in 1997.
Paul auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2015 and his mixture of comedy and skills as a ventriloquist was a hit with the judges and viewers alike.
Paul went on to win the 10th season of America’s Got Talent, receiving $1 million prize money and a headline residency show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
He also starred in the London Palladium’s first pantomime in 30 years, Cinderella, over the 2016-17 season and is about to embark on a UK tour called All Mouth.
The show will feature a brand new character, but for now Paul is remaining surprisingly tight lipped about who it is.
Paul Zerdin Age
He was born on 21 August 1972 in London, UK.
Paul Zerdin Wife – Paul Zerdin Married
Paul likes to keep his personal life private, but after his America’s Got Talent win, he was pictured arriving back at London’s Heathrow airport with girlfriend Robin Mellor. According to reports Robin sometimes works as his stage assistant during his shows.
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Paul Zerdin Net Worth
Paul won $1 million dollars after triumphing on America’s Got Talent but his net worth will have increased since then having toured the US and appearing on TV.
Paul Zerdin TV Shows
- 1996: The Big Big Talent Show
- 1996: Sooty & Co.:
- 2008: The Convention Crasher
- 2015: America’s Got Talent
- 2015: America’s Got Talent
- 2015: Newzoids
- 2017: Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?
Paul Zerdin Interview
What’s the secret to making audiences suspend disbelief?
Paul Zerdin: As a kid, I would take a teddy bear, take the stuffing out and put my hand in. I always pretended there was something alive when there wasn’t. You have to make it believable or else people aren’t going to buy into the jokes. In my show, the puppets Sam, his grandpa Albert, and the baby, they are all kind of related, so it’s kind of like I’m looking after this dysfunctional family. Because there is that kind of weird dynamic, it helps make the characters believable.
What inspired your comic sensibilities?
Paul Zerdin: I was influenced by old-fashioned comedy, really. I was brought up on Laurel and Hardy, and Abbott and Costello, and British comedians. But I love American comedians. Jerry Seinfeld is one of my favorites. I was brought up on a diet of American television, so it kind of makes sense that I wound up here.
On AGT, a highlight was you turning Howie Mandel into a “human puppet,” and now you do it with audience members. Why is that so popular?
Paul Zerdin: What I did with Howie was a shorter version of the full routine I’m doing here. I can get them walking around the stage. Sometimes I go into the audience and I’m controlling them from the seat and they are up there doing the show. I’ve never seen that done before. That’s totally new. I did a sneak preview of it with Howie and he was just the best dummy. On live television, it was a risk, but it was a risk worth taking. There is a structure to it, but you never know how people are going to react, and that’s the great thing about doing a live show.
How is your material in your Vegas show different than what you did on AGT?
Paul Zerdin: It’s a bit edgy, with things you can’t say on prime time television. It’s cheekier than what you saw on AGT.
On TV, you performed with Terry Fator, who performs at The Mirage. How do you feel about competing with him?
Paul Zerdin: When I was here before, doing three nights at Planet Hollywood, we hung out and he’s become a friend. I have to pinch myself because he’s set the benchmark here in Vegas and here am I doing a show in Vegas. Just to do a shot with him was amazing.
Do you think of yourself as part of a “young turks” generation that reinvigorated the art form?
Paul Zerdin: I would like to think so. It’s about doing things in a different way. Within the show there’s stand-up, there’s examples of me throwing my voice without a puppet, so you don’t have to have a puppet at the end of your arm. And the human puppet segment, I think that’s where it’s going. There was a British ventriloquist who used to squeeze people’s arms and open their mouths and put his voice in there, so this is just an updated version. And the fact that I can improvise, I think that makes it more modern. And there is the use of animatronics, so the puppets stand on their own sometimes. We have this amazing technology at our fingertips, so why not use it? It’s not a whole show with radio control, but there are moments when you can use it to punctuate a gag or a section within the show. I think people haven’t seen too much of that and I think it’s refreshing and different. As long as the show is funny, I think you can do anything.
On AGT you brought attention to how people try to see your lips move, as if daring the audience to catch you in the act. Why do that?
Paul Zerdin: I think you should just confront it, because you know that’s what everyone is thinking. Is his mouth moving? If you can show that it isn’t really moving and you’ve got an interesting character, they move away from that and concentrate on the puppet. And the puppet is more interesting to look at. I remember seeing Jim Henson, he had Kermit on his arm and he was taking to the camera. But Jim wasn’t a ventriloquist, he was an amazing puppeteer and pioneer. And Kermit is saying, “I know it’s more interesting to look at the frog.” And you were drawn to Kermit, even though there was a man sitting next to him talking and moving his lips. I’d like to think my technique is good, so why not test that? Ventriloquists used to be one rung below a juggler. But now it’s thought of as an art form and people love it. It’s about the comedy, first and foremost.