Rising star ventriloquist Max Fulham makes Bognor seaside variety return

Max Fulham by Jim Carey Photography
Max Fulham by Jim Carey Photography

If you saw him in Bognor Regis last year, you will be thrilled to know that he is coming back.

Max Fulham returns for this year’s Live at the Regis summer variety show at Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre.

“It was brilliant last year,” Max says. “I absolutely loved it. It was a proper variety show. It was something I was starting to think I was not going to get the opportunity to do, but (producer) Hazel (Latus who runs the venue) is fantastic. She put together this incredible bill last year with Joe Pasquale headlining and a live band, and we all just gelled really well, just as I am sure we will gel again together this year.

“And well, Bognor audiences are just wonderful. This year it is Bobby Davro, and I just can’t believe I am doing it!”, says 19-year-old Max.

So how did Max get into ventriloquism?

“Well, I am tempted to say that I was dropped on the head, but my parents bought me a puppet for Christmas one year. I was nine, and I had always been weirdly fascinated by puppets because I just think it is amazing what they are.”

As for his mentors: “Other generations would say that they saw such and such a fantastic star on such and such a fantastic stage, but actually I just saw something on YouTube. I taught myself. I just used to stand in front of my bedroom mirror. There was a little bit of worn carpet in front of the mirror. I just used to stand there and practise and practise and practise.

“It was just continuous practice really. I think it helped that the puppet was a plaything. It was very much a novelty. I did it as a form of play. If I had to start again now, I don’t think I would have the patience. At first I was doing children’s events and parties and I was probably pretty awful but encouraged by aunties being very kind and saying that it was very good, and that gave me the confidence to keep going until I was actually quite good.

“I am entirely self-taught all the way through. I did the odd school thing and performance, and I began to go on from that.

“I started doing children’s birthday parties even though I was only a child myself, and through that I ended up doing town events and things like carnivals, and now I am getting to perform alongside Bobby Davro in a summer show!

“Some of my recognition came about through social media. I am of that age. I would post stupid videos on Facebook and it led to some people noticing. One such person was putting on a variety show at Brighton’s Theatre Royal, and that was my first big theatre appearance in a star-studded bill.

“That was late 2017, and that was where my manager now was compere, Hilary O’Neil. She saw me and is now managing me. We did the Bognor show last year.”

Max comes equipped with an array of voices (oddly, the hardest voice to do as a ventriloquist is your own) and an array of puppets, some more surprising than others. One of them doesn’t have a head.

“I also have a few talking objects which is another tangent that I like to go off at! But what I am finding is that a lot of people have never seen a ventriloquist live. It is quite a special thing to see.”

Live at the Regis runs from Wednesday, August 21-Sunday, August 25, 7.30pm Weds-Sat; 2.30pm Weds, Sat and Sun. Tickets: www.alexandratheatre.co.uk.

8 Hotels offers fascinating evening in Chichester's Minerva Theatre

Summer holiday fun