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Cordova mixes humor with message

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By Natasha Colbaugh

Gene Cordova, of Cordova Creative, is a ventriloquist by trade and an evangelist by calling.

In its 25th year of operation, Cordova Creative appeals to any kind of audience. Gene Cordova and his wife Fawn relocated to LaFollette six years ago from Seattle, Wash. They wanted to be more centrally located. They have since made the area a restful place to stay in between traveling the United States.

“I was never called to pastor a church,” said Cordova about his ministry. “We are all made for different things.”

Cordova specializes in ventriloquism, but he brings much more to each performance with comedy, magic and balloon art. Cordova’s right hand man is an orangutan named Bongo. And Bongo has been the star of the show ever since it began 25 years ago.

“At 25-years-old I discovered puppets and ventriloquism,” said Cordova. “Many people got their puppets when they were young but I didn’t get mine till I was 25.”

The artistry of ventriloquist interaction is observed as Bongo captures the eye with movement and witty locution.

It is apparent Cordova and Bongo are a duo meant to be together.

Cordova recently returned from Idaho. He is planning events in Wyoming and North Dakota. He performs at churches, schools, libraries and corporate events. While many youngsters may recognize him locally as “the Monkey Man”, Cordova has perfected the ability to change his message depending on the audience. When Cordova performed for Microsoft, Macy’s and Alaska Airlines he was able to capture the crowd the same as a room full of pre-school children.

However, Cordova enjoys performing for children, saying they are more accepting of the Christian message weaved throughout the playful production.

“Children have great faith,” said Cordova.

Among Cordova’s popular routines is a conversation with a puppet hidden beneath a paper bag. The mysterious puppet claims it will not show its face because it is so frightening.

But after a persuasive conversation, the puppet reveals itself to be a cute little puppy dog. The show builds suspense and brings enjoyment every time, said Cordova.

Each performance focuses on direct messages ranging from truth and honesty to respect and responsibility. A total of six messages have content directed at different age groups, but Cordova admits he does a lot of improv as well. The improv makes each show unique, and Cordova considers himself a messenger of the gospel whoever the audience is.

In schools and libraries he brings messages about bullying or adventures in reading. And he has also done anti-drug messages in New York and Long Island.

When Cordova is not traveling for shows he makes and sells puppets. The puppets he has created are all different. Ranging from pigs to cave men, they are each waiting for someone to develop their character and give them a voice.

Cordova also travels to conferences where he sells puppets. He also teaches puppetry and ventriloquism. As a teacher of ventriloquism, Cordova said technique is nothing without comedic ability and timing. This is evident when he uses Bongo to take charge of the room and demand attention.

Another character in Cordova’s performances is a duck named Philbert. The puppet has a self-conscience and neurotic behavior, which is fun for Cordova to develop in his messages.

“The more a character is developed the easier material is to write,” said Cordova.

The couple has a busy year full of performances and admits to traveling more than half the year around the nation. And after 25 years, Cordova Creative has significantly impacted many lives with its messages. But they plan to continue their efforts of making a difference in people’s lives for many more years to come. For more information about Cordova Creative visit www.cordovacreative.com