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JFL: Otto & George: Otto voce

Otto voce

Otto (& George) : Does not go to hookers

Otto Peterson and his dirty doll George throw us back to vaudeville's golden age

For those of us who feel that we were simply born too late for the vaudeville circuit, Otto Peterson, the comedy underground’s most vaunted ventriloquist, and George, his puppet, are a bit of a retro thrill – especially when you realize Otto & George are as filthy as any of the acts hoisted on stage at the Gayety between Lili St-Cyr’s milk baths.

Unlike most comedians on the bill at the Nasty Show, Peterson considers that his roots are in "ventriloquism, hanging out in magic stores, and Abbott and Costello" rather than in stand-up comedy. Still, he is a long-time favourite of Nasty Show host Bobby Slayton (as well as George Carlin and other comedy heroes), and lately, his man-and-puppet routine has got him a spot presenting at the Porn Awards, which Slayton hosted. How was it?

"Ah, it was all right," he says. "I didn’t feel welcomed in by them, if that’s what you’re asking. I got a picture with Ice-T – that was cool. But no, I didn’t get swept off to any orgies, and it was pretty hard on the nerves."

Clearly, Peterson is an old-fashioned guy not terribly comfortable in the porn world, and may indeed have the soul of a poet. He used to have a clean act – he busked in Central Park before being seduced into the nasty circuit.

"I think I started to ‘work dirty’ more for [the benefit] of other comedians than the public, because I was looking for their approval," he says. "I’m thinking that they’re thinking, ‘Who is this schmuck with a puppet? Ed Sullivan’s dead, what the hell are you doing?’ If you can shock other comedians, then you’re Superman, because they’re completely fucking jaded."

Still, though, there’s something to be said for "nasty" comedy rather than the clean, sitcom-ready stuff.

"A lotta the guys who do ‘clean’ shows are these filthy pigs who go to prostitutes, and then come back and do cheesy clean stuff. Me, I’m a pretty strait-laced person, I don’t go to hookers or strip clubs, but I don’t have too much to talk about in terms of topical political comedy. I’m more about the body functions."

Otto & George
At the Nasty Show
Club Soda, July 12-17

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  6 comments

  • by Mark St Pierre - July 11, 2005, 11:19 am

    Otto sounds like a throwback to a kinder, gentler time notwithstanding his “nasty” material. I mean, after all, dude is a ventriloquist and, in this day and age, it doesn’t get more old school than that. After all he “performs” his material, he doesn’t live it. He may invoke a certain amount of sleaze and salaciousness in his performances but you’ll never catch the dude pulling a Pee Wee Herman or Eddie Murphy. He just happens to be a good-natured comic with an almost vaudevillian flair who cuts loose ons-stage for the benefit of his fans and peers alike.

  • by Selena Lobo - July 12, 2005, 11:03 pm

    If you ever seen the movie Child’s play you will know what I am talking about. George is evil incarnate and tends to be the alter ego of Otto. If you want to be thoroughly shocked and taken a back by what comes out of this doll’s mouth well you aint seen nothing yet.
    I just came from the Nasty Show and though what the doll said was utter smut, I must admit they where the highlight of the show. Though shocked at times I did think George and Otto had some of the funniest lines of the show.
    George and Otto where definitely as nasty as they want to be!!!

  • by Pedro Eggers - July 17, 2005, 12:49 pm

    Otto Peterson is easily one the worst ventriloquists I’ve ever seen. The funny thing is that that’s part of his charm.
    < <>>
    Otto Peterson and George are hysterical because they play like a disturbed and unfinished version of those old vaudeville acts. George is anything but cute the second he starts yammering away. For a dummy he’s pretty damn sharp with the barbs. As for Otto, well he’s no saint either but clearly it’s the dummy that’s running the act. Does it matter that you can see Otto’s lips move? No, not really. If you wanted a real dummy act you’d look elsewhere. Otto & George is all about messing with our heads and that they do with twisted glee. One of the true highlight of the JFL fest this year, in my opinion.

  • by Vanessa Hasid - July 18, 2005, 12:54 pm

    Just this past Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing Otto & George at the Nasty Show. And for a puppet/comedian pair, they were pretty damn dirty. I definitely doubted their abilities when they first came onstage, but boy did they deliver.
    See, and that’s another thing. I just referred to Otto & George as THEY. A comedian and a puppet that doesn’t even have a life of it’s own, I just referred to as they. Proof that if you’ve got a puppet on your hand, it truly does take on a life of it’s own. And with Otto & George in particular, though you can clearly see Otto’s mouth moving (in that sense, he’s not the best ventriloquist on the planet) George really takes on a life and personality of his own. While George was cracking all the dirty jokes, Otto would try and calm him down and keep reminding him that it wasn’t nice to be so mean to people in the audience. The exchanges between Otto and the puppet were very good though, not once did he mess up in terms of switching between the puppet’s voice and his own regular voice.
    It’s amazing how while George is insulting audience members, Otto is made to look completely innocent throughout the entire thing, though we KNOW that these insults are coming from Otto’s mind and mouth. Yet, you can’t help but feel like he’s the innocent one in all of this and that it’s the puppet that’s being the asshole. It’s just genius how when you’ve got that puppet on your hand, you can say whatever the hell you want and get away with it.
    They are an entertaining pair, and there aren’t too many dirty ventriloquists out there, which makes them original straight off the bat. They really are something unique. I mean after a couple of minutes of making fun of the same guy’s big head, it did kind of get a little repetitive and a bit nasty, especially when the man wasn’t even laughing at the jokes being made about his head, but it’s all in good fun. I didn’t think a puppet could entertain me as much as George did.

  • by Gavin Roy - July 18, 2005, 3:55 pm

    I saw these two at last friday’s midnight nasty show and I will never forget it. It was the funniest, dirtiest act ever seen on stage. They take on everything from racism to homosexuality to misoginy and they do it perfectly. You can see the the guy’s lips are moving but it doesn’t matter because it so funny. And he does a great job at keeping your attentiion on the doll anyway. Great show and I hope they come back to montreal next year.

  • by Eric Bertrand - July 19, 2005, 12:43 pm

    These two were brutal! I know the dummy’s not real but Otto gives him so much personality that it’s hard not to see him as real. I haven’t laughed this hard in ages. The stuff that cane out of George’s mouth were pure twisted genius! If they’re ever back in town I really recommend that you them because you’ll never laugh so hard in your life!

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