Terry Fator is surrounded by some of his 25 puppets. Photo provided.
Terry Fator is surrounded by some of his 25 puppets. Photo provided.
When it comes to comedy, Terry Fator does it all – ventriloquism, impressionism, stand-up and singing – and he loves what he’s doing.

“Not only is it incredibly funny, but it’s also inspiring,” he said in a telephone interview about his upcoming show in Wabash. “I want it to be a positive experience for all human beings. That’s what I’m all about, positivity and having fun. To quote a friend of mine, if there’s no laughter in the room God is not present.”

Fator performs at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in the Ford Theater at the Honeywell Center in Wabash. Tickets are $45, $59 and $100 and can be purchased at the box office or online at honeywellcenter.org.

The 54-year-old Dallas, Texas native said his act has really been an evolution. He always could do impressions of singers growing up, whether that was Donny Osmond or Michael Jackson. When his voice changed, he could then do impressions of popular artists of the day like Led Zeppelin.

He started doing ventriloquism at age 10, and his first dummy sang country music.

Later on he got to see Danny Gans – an American singer, comedian and vocal impressionist – at the Danny Gans Theatre (which incidentally has become the Terry Fator Theatre). Seeing Gans made Fator decide he wanted to have his own Las Vegas ventriloquism show, but he didn’t want to be “Gans Light,” he said. That’s when Fator came up with the idea to have his puppets do celebrity impressions.

Fator was climbing the ladder to success when he won the second season of the television competition show “America’s Got Talent” in 2007 and the $1 million prize that came with it. He said that helped his career tremendously.

“It always blows my mind when I meet a celebrity who was my hero growing up,” Fator said.

When he met American singer Andy Williams, Fator said Williams told him that he and his wife loved him, watched him and voted for him on “America’s Got Talent.”

Fator was “blown away” that Williams even knew who he was.

He also met Cindy Williams, who played Shirley Feeney on “Happy Days.” She told Fator that she and several “Happy Days” cast members watched him together on “America’s Got Talent” every week.

It was because of that talent show that he got a direct contract with the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, he said. He had been honing his craft for about 30 years by then, but he said when opportunity came knocking at his door, he answered it.

Fator’s Las Vegas act now has 25 different puppets. He said his Vegas show is 1-1/2 hours of rapid-fire comedy with all 25 of his characters and “the people love it.”

When he hits the road, usually on weekends when comedians like Fluffy or Jay Leno are performing at his theater, Fator takes about 11 or 12 of the puppets.

Every year, he reviews and rewrites his show. He’ll determine which puppets to put in his shows and how based partially on which ones haven’t been done in a while.

“I’ve had some people see my show 11 to 12 times and they’ve never seen the same show twice,” he said.

For part of his act, he has someone come up to the stage and put on a mask with a working mouthpiece. Fator eventually puts a full costume on the person – which in the past was of Cher – and Fator performs with the masked audience member, singing a song. With “Cher,” it was the song “I’ve Got You Babe.” Videos of it can be found on YouTube.

Fator said that mask came from a dear friend of his, ventriloquist and stand-up comic Ronn Lucas. Lucas used to use the mask in his shows “way, way back,” Fator said. Fator paid Lucas for the rights to the mask.

He’s now got a new routine with the mask, which Fator said “is funnier than Cher. People literally wipe tears away from laughing so hard. It’s a great, fun routine.”

Even funnier still is the routine he does with the mask at his Las Vegas shows, he said.

“Anything I do is appropriate for families,” he said. Fator compared his routines to Pixar and Bugs Bunny comedy – kids will laugh at it, but adults will get the double entendre, but he won’t cross the line.

He does stay away from politics as “we live in such a toxic environment people would get angry.” He doesn’t worry anymore, however, if someone gets upset about something in his performance that’s not meant to offend.

And he can see himself performing well into his 80s like Tony Bennett, who is 93 and still sings.

“I love it. I just love it. It’s play for me. I’d rather be doing this than anything in the world. I get a thrill being on stage,” Fator said.