Ventriloquism puppet/sidekick to
local ventriloquist Gary Wick.
Rochester Magazine: Wouldn’t you agree that if a guy accidentally forgot his anniversary, but didn’t mean it, that it’s not right for that guy’s wife to be so angry that, the next day for dinner, all they had was a big salad.
Clarence the Duck: [in a sarcastic duck-like voice]: If a guy forgets his anniversary? Yes that’s right. That’s called retribution.
RM: Even if, at some point, the guy got up and was feeling the stove to see if it was hot, hoping that maybe his wife just forgot to get the pork chops or whatever out?
CTD: It’s a day of reckoning.
RM: So, you’re a duck.
CTD: Yeah. And …
RM: But you can talk.
CTD: I can talk.
RM: And move around?
CTD: I’m just a puppet.
RM: But, really, someone’s got their hand through your backside, yes?
CTD: That’s the way it works. It’s a living. It pays the bills.
RM: Where are you from originally?
CTD: I’m from a park in Milwaukee. It’s called Drive-by Duck Shooting Park. It was rough.
RM: In what war …
CTD [repeating his answer]: It was rough.
RM: Oh, okay. How rough was it?
CTD: Our zip code was 911.
RM: In what war was the Gatling gun first used?
CTD: Civil War. My great-grandfather told me about it. He escaped that one. The Union wanted to conscript him for dinner. That’s why he went south.
RM: So, a duck …
CTD: This isn’t going to be the joke about the duck and chapstick and “put it on my bill” is it?
RM: Speaking of bills, I saw a guy wearing an extremely long-billed baseball hat once, and it read “Mine’s longer than yours.” That was interesting to me.
CTD: You really need to see someone. You really need help. I say that with love.
RM: Name the only NFL team to go undefeated throughout the regular season and playoffs.
CTD: I don’t follow sports. He keeps me in a box. I’ll take a wild guess: the Chicago Cubs.
RM: No. The 1972 Miami Dolphins.
CTD: I’m writing that down in case I get asked that again.
RM: Yes or no: I have never experienced a compound fracture.
CTD: I have no clue what you’re talking about.
RM: It’s when a broken bone pops through the skin.
CTD: Oh god! I’m going to have dreams tonight!
RM: Here’s a poem I just wrote. It’s about love.:
What is love?/
Love is like a flower/
Dew-kissed and oh so very precious/
Dripping with beautiful goodness/
Very gentle leaves/
Am I pretty?/
CTD: You need help. My god you need help. I say that with love.
RM: How would you describe your relationship with Gary Wick?
CTD: It’s a business relationship. Nothing personal. He keeps me in a box. It’s not a bad deal so don’t mention this to the PETA people—they freak me out more than mimes.
RM: In your promo material, it says you’ve performed with Neil Sedaka and Marie Osmond. Tell me this, what’s Neil Sedaka really like?
CTD: Quiet. He talked in a high voice. But very nice.
RM: Really? Whenever I’ve pictured him he’s caked in actor make-up, storming around yelling things like “I wrote, ‘Calendar Girl’ dammit!”
CTD: Um, no. He was very nice.
RM: Marie Osmond?
CTD: I never met her. She wouldn’t allow me in the dressing room.
RM: How do you feel about the geese in town?
CTD: I hate the geese. They’re filthy animals. They don’t clean up after themselves.
RM: And you do?
CTD: I have a scooper with me right now.
RM: Can I talk to Gary? Gary, are you there?
CTD [yelling] : Gary? Can you come to the phone?
GW: Hello. This is Gary.
RM: That was you doing the talking right?
GW: No, that was Clarence.
RM: Come on, really.
GW: I was watching TV.
GW: Of course that was me.
RM: Okay, sorry. I just got a little freaked out there for a minute.
RM: We need to get to the story about the holdup.
GW: It’s 1987. It’s almost midnight. I finished a set in a Chicago comedy club I’m now in the parking lot, heading for my car. A guy appears from the shadows and stands directly in front of me. He’s tall, dark and ugly, and he has a nine millimeter handgun pointing at my chest. The robber says, “What’s in the bag?” I say “There’s a duck in the bag. Wanna see?” I unzip the gym bag, slip my hand into Clarence and slowly bring him out of the bag. He points the gun at the duck. Now, I’m scared. If he shoots Clarence, chances are that he’ll blow off a couple of my fingers. Clarence looks at the robber then at the robber’s gun. Then he looks at me and says, “Why didn’t you tell me that it was duck season here in Chicago?” The robber shakes his head and frowns as if I had just told him the dumbest joke he had ever heard, which I had. He slips his gun back into his baggy jacket and says, “You’re crazy.” Then he walks away. So my duck puppet saved my life.
Photo courtesy of Gary Wick