Leading up to the 40th edition of the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival, I had a chance to chat with Randy Feltface, one of the most unique performers at this year’s event. He is an Australian puppet comedian voiced and operated by Heath McIvor whose live shows will astound you with how much energy and enthusiasm the felt-skinned being has.
BR: You’re from Australia but where are you now?
Randy Feltface: I’m in Washington and instead of flying to Montreal, I’ll be driving for the first time. I’m looking forward to coming to Montreal and visiting Mount Royal. Taking a stroll up the hill gives me a little bit of a reset. The Just For Laughs festival is amazing and the city is incredible. I’m into bird watching so I also intend to visit Nuns Island. [BR: I also highly recommended the “Ile de Boucherville islands”]
BR: This is my first interview with a puppet. Although I actually own a puppet. Her name is Roxy. I made her at the Whatnot Workshop in New York. I’ve noticed that some friends are afraid of her! Are people afraid of you?
RF: Some people find me intimidating or disturbing. Although, the come to see me at my shows so they know what they are getting into. I don’t have great vision so I often won’t see if someone is offended or walking out. Some people have had bad experiences as a child such as with terrible children’s party entertainers and so they get scared as an adult. Not everything is for everybody.
BR: There’s only one Randy Feltface. This technically makes you a critically endangered species. Do you have a significant other?
RF: No plans for a significant other. I am riding the last days of my species in solitude. I am the end of my line. No children. This leaves me in a unique position.
BR: Your movements are so life-like. What was the inspiration to combine comedy which is already hard enough, with puppetry?
RF: That’s an existential question. What I’m made of doesn’t dictate how I move through the world. I am a sentient creature who has chosen comedy has a chosen form of expression. I love skit comedy and stand up. And I love the movement and physicality of it. You can get layer upon layer of jokes with physical movement.
BR: Are there topics you find easier to cover as a puppet than a human?
RF: I often get asked if I get away with more because of the way I look. If I do my job, it puts people at ease and they forget who is delivering it. But the jokes have to be good enough. The novelly of my face wears of pretty quickly. It certainly won’t carry the show for 60 minutes.
BR: Is there a name for your fans?
RF: While in Montreal, should we come up with one? Actually, it’s bad for the person to name their fans. At this stage, I haven’t reached the dizzying heights of fame to the point of having fans who name themselves. For now, I have given myself the tile of “World’s Most Entertaining Non-Human Comedian.”
BR: What can we expect at your JFL appearance?
RF: This might be the last time you ever see me at Just For Laughs so I’ll make it worth it.