It’s an ordinary fact that Chuck Field grew up in Illinois. What’s extraordinary is that he became a ventriloquist when he was 10. “I loved ‘Paul Winchell and The Jerry Mahoney Show’ on TV,” says Chuck. “One day, my mom opened up the Jewish Community Center program guide and [saw that] they were offering a class on ventriloquism. I took the class.” He’s been entertaining folks ever since.
He started his routines at the neighbor’s house. Word spread of his unique talent and he was soon doing shows every weekend. “People would pick me up and take me to parties,” says Chuck, because he was too young to drive. His mom would help him write his material. He was also attending a Hebrew day school and involved in the Jewish community.
When he was getting ready to go to college at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, he decided to leave his “dummies” at home. But soon there was a demand in college for his performance skills. After he graduated, he went on to work in the field of his degree, developing advertising campaigns and producing radio commercials. Throughout different jobs, ventriloquism was always his go-to.
In 1982, he went to work for his family’s business, H. Feld & Sons, Inc. – an 83-year-old company that specializes in high-end, corrugated packaging – located in Arlington Heights, Illinois. More than a year ago, Chuck and his wife decided to move to Phoenix to be closer to their daughters and grandchildren. He continues to work for the family business from there. “I juggle my day between selling boxes and talking to the guy in the box!” jokes Chuck.
His cast of stage partners – “wooden Americans is the politically correct term,” says Chuck – includes Ziggy and Dr. Sol Finkelstein. “Dr. Sol reminds me of my father and other relatives,” says Chuck. “Ziggy is my alter ego. He represents the kid in me. He says what I am thinking, but it’s funnier coming out of him.” He uses Ziggy when he is entertaining kids as well as in shows for adults.
Chuck most enjoys putting on family shows, whether it’s a 4th birthday or a 40th anniversary. “I love a mixture of the generations in the audience,” says Chuck. “I like to bring adults up on stage and let their family see them be goofy.”
Chuck performs about 150 shows a year in locations like Miami, San Diego, the Catskills, and the Bahamas. Venues include schools, senior centers, comedy clubs and resorts. He has also performed at about a dozen Pesach vacation spots in the last 12 years. “The Jewish community is my glue,” says Chuck.
He enjoys traveling to the International Ventriloquist Convention, where he first connected to others “who were like me” and where he says he can hone his craft. “People are there to learn. There are vendors and educational sessions. You learn how to develop characters and how to split yourself between being a good technician and being likeable and relatable to any audience.”
Chuck credits Jeff Dunham with bringing ventriloquism to mainstream entertainment. “People used to watch variety shows and then that kind of entertainment went away,” says Chuck. “Then Jeff Dunham became popular and Paul Zerdin was on ‘America’s Got Talent.’” Suddenly, ventriloquism became mainstream again.
As things come full circle and ventriloquism gains popularity, Chuck enjoys keeping busy with his hobby. He also appreciates that his parents, who live in San Diego, are still supportive and encouraging. “My mom sends me jokes,” he says with a chuckle.
If you’re looking for unique entertainment for your next simcha that is suitable for all ages, consider calling Chuck and his wooden American friends. You won’t be disappointed.
Contact Chuck at 847-814-5120 or visit whatsupchuck.com.