"What's going on in Te Maru? Te Maru, right?"
Dave Strassman's words. It's 2pm at his Hollywood hills home and his 11-year-old son is due home from school in 30 minutes.
On the phone we discuss the career of this ventriloquist-comedian and what Timaru can expect when he plays the Theatre Royal on November 30.
New Zealand, like Australia and the United Kingdom, has been good to him.
He is practically unknown in his home town of Los Angeles and he likes it that way. North America, in fact, is largely unaware of him.
"I have been successful in the anglicised world; England, Australia and New Zealand."
Television talk shows, fringe festivals and comedy clubs.
Why not America?
"There's three things: I do believe my show is a little bit more intelligent than what Americans want; Kiwis all love teddy bears; and you guys see more live shows than what Americans do."
He describes his job as "95 per cent hand-up-bum ventriloquism".
"I'm very fortunate that I play with dolls for a living. With Ted E Bare, I take him to children's hospitals and give back to communities; I'm able to give back and keep a foot in the real world."
Timaru can expect a brand new show.
Strassman says it's 10 years since he was here last.
"The show travels in a six tonne truck with a crew of six; unbelievable stage theatrics, robotics and six main characters."
And the characters occupy an alternate reality where they meet their doubles.
Strassman got started young, trained in ventriloquism and acting ... he says he started enjoying it when he started making money.
"Aged 14 and I'm making $50 for a half-hour show while my friends are making $10 for doing the lawns. It's been very good; I've innovated this art form into a realm of theatre."
In Hollywood there is total peace and quiet for him.
"No one knows me when I go to the store. The one benefit about Hollywood is I have good access to special effects ... I build most of the puppets and I have experts to do the sculpting and moulding."
- © Fairfax NZ News