Feature story by Ian Kirby

American Entertainment Magazine  

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I recently toured the David Copperfield Magic and Ventriloquism collection in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This amazing collection is only available to view by invitation from Mr. Copperfield.  David invited myself and good friend Craig Neier, to first see his magic and illusion show at the MGM Grand Hotel, folllowed by a personal tour by David himself!  An incredible evening I will never forget.

 

Standing with David Copperfield inside the Houdini room

An amazing evening sharing the dinner table with comedy legend, Marty Allen.

During the 1950s, Marty worked as an opening act for stars such as Sarah VaughanEydie Gorme, and Nat King Cole . He also worked many showrooms and comedy clubs, including the famous Copacabana.  He then became part of the comedy team of Allen & Rossi with Steve Rossi, which resulted in a string of hit comedy albums, 44 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Showincluding the famous Beatles appearance in February 1964.  Marty made hundreds of television appearances, becoming a regular on Hollywood Squares. He appeared on Circus of the Stars, in a cameo on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, on game shows such as Password, and in ten made-for-television movies.  An entertainment legend!

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What an amazing opportunity to headline comedy night at the Lions Bar, MGM Grand Hotel in Macau, China.  The packed house enjoyed two hours of comedy and variety by myself and two great opening acts; Ryan Hynek and Jim Brewsky.  An incredible night in an incredible city.

Sharing the stage and hanging out with the Amazing Kreskin for three weeks at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto was a blast. With 88 appearances on the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and numerous appearances on David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, his own tv show and so much more, this man has earned the title of "Entertainment Legend". Here he is telling me what I had for lunch earlier today and yes he got it right! (although I had told him 5 minutes earlier, he is 79 years old you know) I love this guy!

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While performing on Disney Cruise Line a few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with the incredible people and muppets from The Muppet Show.  As a kid and future puppeteer, I grew up watching The Muppets on television every week and I was mesmerized by the artistry of these talented performers.  After their performance on Disney, I was invited backstage to meet and chat with the puppeteers who bring some of my favourite muppets to life; Animal, Swedish Chef, Waldorf and Stadler and Kermit the Frog.  An experience I will treasure forever.

For many years I was accompanied on stage by one of my favourite sidekicks, Garth.  He travelled the world with me performing on stage from Asia to America - Canada to Europe and everywhere in between.  He performed thousands of shows and was always a hit with the audience.  At the beginning of 2017 he officially retired from show business.  He now resides in Boca Raton, Florida, where he rides his mobility scooter, complains about the government full time and enjoys weekly trips to The Golden Coral, his favourite restaurant.

Ventriloquist Michael Harrison reacts to Garth at "Wavebands" aboard the Disney Wonder at sea in Alaska
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This is my great grandfather, Frank Merryfield.  He was an accomplished magician, ventriloquist, firefighter, boxer, baker, street car conductor, musician and trick bicycle rider.  He had an amazing life and he is the inspiration for my life as a full time ventriloquist and entertainer.  You can read more about him and his life story by clicking on the History tab at the top of the page.

I have performed many different routines on stage over the years. Some amazing, some forgettable and some just a little plain weird.  The Michael Jackson Bag Escape was one of those.  I would invite an audience member on stage to handcuff me and tie me up inside a large bag.  I would then try to escape in 2 minutes or less.  Little did the audience know that as the music began to play and the tension began to build, I was secretly transforming into Michael Jackson inside the bag.  Suddenly, the bag would tear open, the music would begin blaring out Black or White by Michael Jackson and I would emerge as the King of Pop singing and performing all his infamous dance moves.  Yes, it was weird, but the audience loved it!

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Continuing on the very weird theme, this is me as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, riding my 8 foot Canada goose.  Why? The question should be; why not?

This is the artists original, conceptual illustration of my lovable, life size puppet, Ana Conda.  Ana was designed in Canada, built in California and now performs all over the world.  She's a big beautiful puppet with blinking eyelids, a tail that wags and one big fang in the middle of her oversized mouth.  She travels in two large road cases and is always the first puppet to appear in my full, family stage show.  You can see a "live" performance photo of her on the home page.

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I had the pleasure of meeting the very talented, Ernie Sabella. The voice of Pumba in The Lion King.  He was a real character and fun to talk "shop" with.  He even came to my shows and was "laughing like a crazy person". His words, not mine....

I never thought I would make it to the cover of the French Science Magazine, "Science and Vie Decouvertes" but then again, I had never heard of the French Science Magazine, "Science and Vie Decouvertes" until they asked me if I would like to be on their cover.  I said, Oui! (yes)

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In the mid 1990's I travelled the country with my very own 25ft. all in one, mobile stage show.  It came with everything needed to present a great show; stage, lighting, sound, dressing room, audience seating and the one and only "Garry Gumboot Show".

I spent the better part of 6 years crossing the country as I toured and performed at fairs and festivals from coast to coast.

Yes, I've officially made it to the pinnacle of show business!

My face has graced the pages of "The Costco Connection", the monthly magazine published by the massive North American discount retailer, Costco.  An employee at my local Costco store recognized me from my appearance on America's Got Talent and submitted my story to the company headquarters.  The next thing I new, I was a Costco celebrity.  All kidding aside, I was excited to see the magazine arrive as I am a big fan of Costco and shop there often. "Clean up, aisle four".

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I have been very fortunate to perform at some incredible comedy clubs over the years.  Below are two of them;  Take Out Comedy, Hong Kong and Catch A Rising Star, New York City

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