Speaking and Performing With Excellence

Terry Fator At The Las Vegas Hilton

Two days ago I went to my 8th show in three weeks.  I love living in Las Vegas!

Terry Fator has been playing at the Las Vegas Hilton since October 2007.  He has signed a long-term contract which will move him to the Mirage in February 2009 (replacing Danny Gans who is moving to the Wynn).  Musical chairs…Las Vegas style.

Terrific Show.  I had watched America’s Got Talent last year and was glad to see Terry Fator win.  Going to his show at the Las Vegas Hilton, I knew that it was going to be great.  It exceeded my expectations.  A 1700 seat theatre was sold out on a Tuesday evening.  Backed up by top-notch production support and an on-stage cast of 16 musicians and showgirls, it is one of the city’s best shows.

The Show Before The Show.  While awaiting the start of the show, the early-arriving audience was entertained by DJ Mike.  At showtime, Mike opened with about 10 minutes of audience-energy-building exercises.  It wasn’t a traditional opening act, like a comedian, but did a good job of guaranteeing that Terry Fator didn’t take the stage in front of a dead audience. 

Self-Deprecation.  Several times he took the opportunity to poke fun at himself.  One of his puppets bragged about how he (the puppet) had been the winner of America’s Got Talent.  Terry also joked about his name in large letters at the back of the stage.  He mentioned that if it were mis-spelled it could come out Ferry Tator.  Then he talked about how he used to be teased, when he was younger, by kids who misused his name.

Depth Of Talent.  Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent not because of his talent, but  because of his depth of talent.  He does comedy.  He sings.  He does celebrity impressions.  He does ventriloquism.  And he’s exceptionally talented in all of those skills.  And he does a terrific 90-minute show with no need for a filler-opening-act.  It’s no wonder that he could put together a few short entertaining segments for the competition, selecting his strongest material from a long list of outstanding routines.  So it is with speakers.  A speaker, who needs to fill a one hour slot, needs to KNOW at least ten hours of material on the subject of the speech.  Shallow depth of knowledge will make itself apparent during a talk.  When you know far more than you’ll ever have the time to share, you can pick and choose your best material.  Be a Terry Fator.  Not casually good.  But brilliantly excellent at what you do.

Great Humor Skills.  He is skilled in the art of comedy.  He’s able to create spontaneous lines while talking to a member of the audience.  He customizes for the locale, making reference to the hotel and other Las Vegas area attractions.  His turtle puppet (Winston) had visited Turtle Ranch (a play on Mustang Ranch, a local brothel).  Later another puppet, while under the counter, said:  “Hey, there’s a turtle down here.  He wants me to take him to some ranch.”  A great call-back made stronger by not completing the TURTLE part of Turtle Ranch, letting the audience fill-in-the-blank (the superiority theory of humor).  That subtle reference to the Mustang Ranch was as wild as the routine got.  It was a family-friendly show.  In fact many people brought young children to see the show (something you don’t often see at an evening Las Vegas show).

Audience Involvement.  Terry and his puppets often talk to members of the audience.  In the second half of the program he actually brings an audience member onstage.  Great improvisation.

Overnight Success.  Terry Fator won America’s Got Talent and was a huge success OVERNIGHT.  Within 12 months he went from virtual obscurity to a multi-million dollar headliner in Las Vegas.  Well, the truth is that 32 years of hard work and preparation went into turning him into an overnight success.  Overnight Success is a concept created in the mind of the casual observer.  In reality, overnight success is the result of years, often decades, of hard work, focus, dedication and discipline.  Terry’s overnight success is well earned.  I highly recommend Terry Fator’s show.  He plays one three-day appearance each month thru December at the Las Vegas Hilton, and opens his headliner show at the Mirage in February 2009.