Michele LaFong, the Special Guest Star for the Tribute to Shari Lewis Show at this years Ventriloquists Convention, bring puppets to life while adding her own standup comedy to create the most dynamic act in ventriloquism today.
Often called the successor to Lewis and heir of Wences empire, Michele uses historic puppets and her own characters to give her act a blend of old and new. Michele combines the mastery of Lewis and raw talent of the great Wences to keep the true spirit of puppeteering alive.
Michele also a gifted standup. Her impersonations of Joan River, Bette Milder, Andrew Dice Clay and Dr. Ruth show her diversity. Michele has performed as both a headliner and opening act at numerous resorts and hotel/casinos, and also has been a guest star for many television specials. She has headlined comedy clubs, college campuses, corporate events and top cruise lines.
Michele provided 90s standup comedy in "Funniest Females Starring Michele LeFong," the first all-female comedy show ever on the Las Vegas Strip.
As a young girl, Lewis inspired Michele as a role model and a ventriloquist. "She was the only female ventriloquist and role model and she has incredible lip control and technique," Michele says.
She also looked towards Wences, the legendary Ed Sullivan Show ventriloquist, for his grace and style. Micheles use of the famed ventriloquists puppets has been a critical hit.
"He was never dependent on any punchline and he never relied and he never relied on any written mater," Michele says. "He could make anything funny. His timing, rhythm and speed, strong characters and voices were his greatest attributes."
A few years ago, Michele performed for the great showmans 100th birthday party. The two became such good friends that Wences gave her many of his puppets, and taught her "Johnny," the character whose head is a lipstick-painted hand. Her friendship with Wences was featured in a recent "Life" magazine article. As a tribute to Senor Wences, "Johnny" is a constant in her act. Michele also used Johnny in a recent Mercedes Benz commercial that aired nationally.
"I love the feedback I have been getting," Michele says of the Wences puppets. "It takes people back and they really appreciate it. They thank me and I know that they mean it. Its a piece of history. I feel like I have a big responsibility. I can only take so much license with his stuff."
Also well received by reviewers is the bashing of her former boyfriend. Paco is a smooth-talking, macho "stud puppet" complete with gold chains dangling over his hairy chest is modeled after a former real-life boyfriend.
"I created Paco to get back at the guy after we broke up, but he didnt get it," Michele said. "He is actually proud of it."