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By Stevezany @stevezany

Sun Chronicle - RI Magician Kids Party Ventriloquist Steve Zany

Zany and proud of it

Attleboro man up for special Nickelodeon award

By MICHAEL GELBWASSER
SUN CHRONICLE STAFF

ATTLEBORO — How might magician and ventriloquist Steve Zany celebrate if he wins a Nickelodeon award this month?He’ll probably make a giant banana split “with all the fixings” disappear.”What can I say? I’m still a big kid who won’t grow up,” Zany said.Zany, of Attleboro, is a local nominee for Best Party Entertainer in Nickelodeon’s 2009 Parents’ Picks Awards.The winner will be announced Aug. 17. [Update: Zany won the award.]

Zany was nominated based on recommendations from Nickelodeon’s “local city editors” and online feedback.

The winner ultimately will be chosen by area parents based on the number of online votes received at Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect Web site.

A father of two, Zany has performed locally for more than two decades. He also has performed at the White House.

This interview was conducted – a la kazam! – by e-mail.

kids magician ri

Attleboro’s Steve Zany with his ventriloquist buddy.Magician Steve Zany of South Attleboro, nominated for Nickelodeon award works his magic.

SUN CHRONICLE: A children’s book first introduced you to magic (and ventriloquism). What was your first trick?

ri kids magician
STEVE ZANY: A library book first introduced me to the wonders of magic and ventriloquism when I was in elementary school. (It was a book from 1953 by Edward Stoddard called The First Book of Magic.)

The first trick I ever learned was taking a loop of string and melting it right through my neck. It not only amazed my friends, but my parents, too. My first ventriloquist character was an old sock which was less impressive for them.

SC: How did ventriloquism become part of your act? What do you enjoy most about it?

ZANY: Ventriloquism became part of my show in the late 1980s.

What I love about ventriloquism is that, unlike with magic, where the audience is “fooled,” the audience knows exactly how I’m bringing my ventriloquist characters to life – by moving my arm and hand as well as throwing my voice. Yet, audiences quickly and willingly suspend their disbelief because they want to be entertained. I believe deep in each of our hearts we want to believe that the impossible can be possible.

SC: Which books would you recommend to kids aspiring to be magicians or ventriloquists?

ZANY: I recommend kids visit their local library and just read what inspires them. It might be an interesting book on how to perform, a biography about a famous entertainer or even something about the ancient history of magic and ventriloquism.

SC: What’s the trick to being a great performer?

ZANY: Love what you do, be grateful for the opportunity to perform for others, continuously strive to improve, aim to please and be entertaining.

SC: So, how have audiences changed over your career? Have they become more sophisticated, as kids have better and better video games to entertain them?

ZANY: I believe the psychology of entertaining children is timeless.

Kids love to laugh their heads off, enjoy things that stimulate their imagination, are attracted to bright colors, like variety, and prefer entertainment that’s fast-paced and energetic.

Video games and edgy children’s TV programs have been around since the 1980s and geared to the generation of the time, but I find kids still love live entertainment and want to see performing artists because many children don’t see enough of them.

SC: What is your favorite type of audience to perform for? Least favorite?

ZANY: Entertaining family audiences is what I enjoy most, so I only perform shows for pre-school and elementary school-age children and the grownups with them.

I love to see the kids laugh and be filled with awe. Plus, it’s fun to see the grownups at my shows forget that they’re adults and watch the show with the eyes of a child.

SC: What is your most popular trick (or voice) these days?

ZANY: It’s probably a tie between my bunny and dinosaur.

Kids often tell me they love when a child from the audience makes a real bunny appear out of thin air with the wave of a magic wand they’re holding.

Another highlight is when I bring my ventriloquist character Darryl the Dinosaur to life – the world’s only Stupidosaurus. It’s memorable because kids love dinosaurs and most people have never seen ventriloquism performed live before.

SC: Is there a trick (or voice) you’re eager to add to your repertoire?

ZANY: Audiences seem to like my show to be a bit over the top, so I’ll soon be adding a rubber “stunt” chicken named Gus to my act who has a knack for doing courageous magical feats that a live chicken would never dare do. In particular, Gus will magically guess an audience member’s chosen playing card and then catch it in his beak by magic when the deck of cards is tossed into the air. Currently we’re in rehearsals.

SC: How about one that you can’t seem to master, no matter how hard you try?

ZANY: Keeping a 1-year-old awake during my show at nap time is quite hard to do. So is keeping my wife awake during my show. She’s probably seen me perform one too many times.

SC: Magic shops used to be very popular. Do you see that day ever returning?

ZANY: Times have changed. Many magic shops are now online and doing quite well without a physical storefront. While there’s something special about browsing a brick and mortar magic shop, the Internet makes it so much easier for anyone to shop for magic tricks and enjoy the art that much more, no matter where they live.

ri kids magician

RI Magician Kids Party Ventriloquist Steve Zany - Nickelodeon Parents Pick Award Winner!


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