HBO Blockheads Ventriloquism Show – Part 4 – Jay Johnson


Jay Johnson (born July 11, 1949 in Lubbock, Texas…folks, he’s a West Texas boy….and cuz he’s from West Texas…I know him….cuz I’ll bet a dollar to a hole in a donut that he’s just like every other West Texas boy that I know….ie: Bone Daddy…..anyway, Johnson grew up in Richardson, Texas) is a ventriloquist and actor….best known for his role on the television show Soap….where he played Chuck Campbell….a ventriloquist who believed his puppet Bob was real….demanding everyone treat Bob as HUMAN.   Chuck never went anywhere (even on dates) without his puppet Bob….who basically said all the things that Chuck was too polite (or repressed) to say.  Jay also starred in Broken Badges (1990)….a Stephen Cannell CBS television production where he played a psychologically depressed police officer named Stanley Jones….who was also a ventriloquist.  He has also appeared as a celebrity guest on many game shows and hosted two series of his own, So You Think You Got Troubles (1983) and Celebrity Charades (1979). Jay’s television roles also include a guest appearance in an episode of Mrs. Columbo….where he played a ventriloquist who finds his dummy is acting independently of his will….and kills the man who carved it.  His post-Soap TV career included appearances on The Love Boat, Gimme a Break!, Simon & Simon, The Facts of Life, Empty Nest and Dave’s World.  

Jay Johnson: The Two and Only written and performed by Jay Johnson….opened on Broadway to rave reviews at the Helen Hayes Theater on September 28, 2006. This was preceded by an acclaimed off-Broadway run at the AtlanticTheatre Company in New York. The show also performed at the Zero Arrow Theatre, Cambridge, MA….and the Brentwood and Colony Theater Company in Los Angeles. The Cambridge performance garnered the New England Critics Award, and in Los Angeles Johnson received the 2006 Ovation Award for Best Solo Performance.

The Two and Only deconstructs and demonstrates Johnson’s lifelong obsession with the art of ventriloquism. The show is a Valentine…not only to the art….but also to his mentor and friend Arthur Sieving….who created Johnson’s first professional puppet.  The show is aided and abetted by a cast of ventriloquated characters….including his Soap alter ego, Bob.  Johnson won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event for the show.  He is the only ventriloquist to ever be nominated and win an American Theatre Wing Tony Award or an Ovation Award.  The Two and Only was filmed on September 15, 2012 in Thalian Hall in Wilmington, NC.   Johnson enlisted film and stage director Bryan W. Simon to direct the film adaptation of the performance.  Johnson first met Simon in 2009 when he starred in the comedy documentary I’m No Dummy…. directed by Bryan W. Simon.

The original Bob puppet featured on Soap was inducted into the Smithsonian Institutions collections of pop culture icons in May 2007. He currently uses a replica Bob for The Two and Only and other appearances.

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