Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doesn't Get Better
It is not a secret that show business is an illusion.  Nothing is really the way it seems in the movies or on television programs.  Even reality shows are not reality but unscripted soap operas.  The mere presence of a recording device combined with human action changes the perception and reality.  As Heisenburg said, "By observing an experiment you have substantially changed the outcome of that experiment."
Admired actors and celebrities can be completely different in "real" life than any of the characters they play. One can love the projected image of a performer and ultimately dislike the person they are.
That is why it is so rare to find a person in show business that is not only the same as their projected image, but even greater.  
Such is the case for ventriloquist hero Jimmy Nelson.
When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be Jimmy Nelson.  At the time he was my favorite ventriloquist on television. Along with his partner Danny O'Day and droopy dog Farfel,  Jimmy made me jones  for Nestlés Quick and long for the next installment of his famous, "Chaaaacolate" commercials.
Later,  while trying to pursue a career in ventriloquism myself, I had an occasion to meet Jimmy. He was instantly lovable and gracious to a young ventriloquist who admired his talents.  But he was that way to everyone.  I later made friends with his son Larry who was an actor in town.  Being a relatively small world community of ventriloquist, I got to interact with Jimmy on several occasions and each time found him to be exactly like you would hope your idol would be.
Over the years I was able to ask him questions that only a successful ventriloquist could answer for a fellow performer. He remained as gracious and humble as the first time I met him and  we became friends. It is not hard to be friends with such a man as Jimmy Nelson.
For the last two days I have been on the set of a video shoot documenting the career of my good friend.  His humility precluded him talking about his career unless asked and this was an in depth interview.  I found out  things I never knew about his life .  The more I listened the more I realized that I was right in wanting to be like him.
The producer/director of the film Bryan Simon is also an admirer of Jimmy Nelson.  Bryan says when he is  trying to make a critical decision his mantra is:  WWJD, Which in this case stands for "What would Jimmy Do?"
Great talent is rare in humans.  Graciousness and humility is rarer, and the number of talented people who deserve our admiration is the rarest quality of all.  That is why my friend Jimmy Nelson is so special. I have never heard him say an unkind word about anyone, even other ventriloquists who blatantly lifted his material for their own use.  I was correct in my early desire to be like Jimmy Nelson.  He is a true treasure to the art form and humanity itself.
Thanks for making it all happen Bryan and Marge. You are both treasures as well.
Pictures to come.
As you were,


Neale Bacon said...

Nice Jay. I am so thrilled that the Venthaven Convention will be a tribute to Jimmy.
I have said hi to him a few times but even at my age am still too shy to impose on his time to ask questions.

Roomie said...

You are a true gentleman and wonderful human being yourself....
Carry on,