Terry Fator was a busy singing ventriloquist long before he won Season 2 of America’s Got Talent in 2007. On the road clocking stage time and perfecting his performances, he was no stranger to the hard work involved with showcasing and enhancing talent. But it was Fator’s primetime exposure on AGT and his subsequent win that dramatically changed everything for him. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’ll happily be returning to the AGT stage as one of the celebrity performers on the September 20, 2017 finale/results show.
I caught up with the Las Vegas-based superstar ventriloquist last week to talk about the AGT phenomenon, his thoughts on Season 12’s ventriloquist finalist Darci Lynne and how a million dollars changes your life.
Listen to the conversation with Terry Fator.
Winning America’s Got Talent means headlining your own show in Vegas. But Fator took that moment and ran with it. Of course soaring success has meant touring the globe, but Fator planted his feet in Vegas, snagging entertainment kudos and setting audience records. Ten years later, he is one of the busiest entertainers on the Las Vegas Strip, performing four to five nights a week at the Mirage-based theater bearing his name.
I wasn’t surprised to see Fator on social media cheering for AGT finalist Darci Lynne. Always supportive of other ventriloquists, Fator often attends the Vent Haven Ventriloquism Convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky. That’s where he met the young singing ventriloquist in 2016 and where he enjoys meeting fellow artists—both accomplished and new to game. In fact, Fator sponsors a youth scholarship for the convention, an effort he hopes encourages even more young artists to learn the craft.
Watch Terry Fator perform on AGT Season Finale Results Show, September 20, 2017 8/7c.
This season has been America’s Got Talent’s most watched season yet, with the show averaging 16 million viewers per episode. That, coupled with the show’s impressive social media statistics (videos of Season 12 acts have yielded more than two billion views across social media platforms), means that this year’s finalists and winner already have plenty of star power.
Is Fator excited about the possibility of the younger singing ventriloquist winning AGT this year? “I tell you what, she’s (Darci Lynne) gonna get all of my votes,” says Fator.
He believes Darci Lynne’s blend of comedy, music and puppet-generating magic offers up the kind of variety show people love to watch—all factors he believes are part of the success equation. Fator admits he’s recently shared a few tips with her, which couldn’t hurt given his skills and box office track record.
I couldn’t help but corner the guy with my burning question. Does a million dollars really change your life? “Oh, yes. It totally changes your life,” laughs Fator, who acknowledges that the cash can help you set your career up in a great way, and for younger winners like Darci, cover those astronomical higher education costs.
“It’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing how it can really genuinely change your life. What it did for me was, I was able to completely pay off all my bills. I was able to invest in getting some new characters and puppets.”
What advice would he give his friend Darci Lynne as she steps on the stage like he did in 2007? He’d remind her that, no matter what, she’s already made an impact and that the world loves her. “Relax and have the time of your life—just have fun. Because really, you know at the end of the day, this is going to be a memory she’s going to carry with her for the rest of her life.” And no matter what, it should be a great one.
Listen to another conversation with Terry Fator.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.