Want to be the next $1 million winner of “America’s Got Talent” or land your own $100-million, five-year contract as a headliner on the Las Vegas Strip? Here are the steps that Terry Fator took to achieve his dream. You can do it too — as long as you are born with an innate talent of flawlessly imitating famous singers without moving your lips, through the hilarious personalities of several different puppets. Well, maybe it’s not that easy, but here are the steps anyway:
1. Start speaking and imitating words when you are nine months old.
2. Realize your love for entertaining when you are three years old after singing in front of members of your church while standing on a table in the church’s dining room. From then on, do whatever you can to perform in front of an audience.
3. Discover comedians in your dad’s record collection when you are six years old and start imitating their voices.
4. Decide you want to be a magician when your dad shows you your fist magic trick when you are eight years old.
5. Accidentally discover the book “Ventriloquism for Fun & Profit” by Paul Winchell when you are 10 years old while in the library searching for a book on the subject of Valentine’s Day for a school report.
6. Get your mom to help you buy your first puppet with the money you raised from babysitting. Also have mom help you redesign the puppet so it can turn its head and be manipulated like a professional one.
7. Use the long hours you are forced to work for your family’s janitorial business that they start when you are 12 years old to practice saying the alphabet and singing without moving your lips.
8. Get your first real professional puppet from your mom as a gift for your eighteenth birthday. That same year, develop an undeniable desire to get on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
9. Start a band after college when you are about 22 years old where you sing and unknowingly imitate other entertainers’ voices and perform ventriloquism routines with one of your puppets. Realize years later, despite your growing success, that there are irreconcilable artistic differences between you and the band and it’s better for everyone if you embark on a solo career.
10. When you are almost 30 years old, watch another band cover famous songs where the singer does not sound like the original artist’s voice. Finally realize that it’s not normal to exactly replicate the original artist’s voice when you are performing their songs and that what you have been doing all these years is called impressions.
11. While performing as a solo act, make a stop in Vegas to watch another impressionist and get the idea to perform more impressions, all through the use of ventriloquism and your puppets.
12. Decide to go on “America’s Got Talent” after seeing another ventriloquist perform on two episodes of the show and later get on “Late Show with David Letterman.”
13. Master performing the Etta James’ hit “At Last” without moving you lips. Use a girl puppet named Emma Taylor for your debut appearance on “America’s Got Talent.”
14. Start working 10 hours a day to learn how to perform Roy Orbison’s “Crying” through one of your puppets for your final performance on the show.
15. Win “America’s Got Talent” and wait for the offers to start rolling in.