Born and raised in Queens, New York, Michele LaFong has
been making headlines in the United States for years. Asked when she first realized she
was funny, Michele answered, "I've been clowning around since day one. I've been
thrown out of every school I ever went to. I just wasn't student material and could never
conform as an adult. I lost lots of jobs too, as a rock-n-roll drummer, a bartender and a
hairdresser. I lost jobs I didn't even have!"
In 1996, LaFong's career crossed paths with a childhood dream when she
was invited to appear on the Tribute to Señor Wences on his 100th
Birthday Tour. The 102 year old international treasure is most famous for his numerous
appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. The original characters Johnny, the lipstick hand
puppet, and Pedro, that head in a box, is what Wences created that became household names
during the 1960's. Michele recalls, "The first thing I thought of when I was asked to
perform for Señor Wences was, 'That's awesome, what a dream come true!'"
From the very beginning, she studied Señor Wences. She analyzed and
learned what set him apart from other comics and ventriloquists. "He was never
dependent on any punch line. He never relied on written material. He could make anything
funny. His timing, rhythm, speed, strong characters and voices did not interfere with what
I saw as his grace, his natural sense of formality and his style as a performer."
If not his formality, LaFong has definitely inherited Señor Wences
sense of style. A sense of style she filters through the voices of five different,
original characters simultaneously.
"I was completely self-taught, I became a ventriloquist when I was
five years old because no one else would talk to me. After I got my first puppet, I could
finally have an intelligent conversation with someone who had to agree with me on every
point. I rarely lost an argument."
A key to LaFong's continued appeal is found in the all-too-familiar and
believable relationship she has with her characters, which she claims are based, loosely,
on real people in her life. Paco, for instance is modeled after an old boyfriend.
"Paco is my single woman's answer to dating in the 90's. He is a smooth talking,
macho stud puppet, clad in black leather with gold chains dangling from his hairy
chest." But when she's asked if she will ever give up Paco for a real man, she
replies, "only when I find a real man who will let me pack him up in a suitcase when
I'm done with him."
Michele is an accomplished stand-up comedian and impressionist. Her
characters include Bette Midler, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason and renowned sex therapist Dr.
Ruth, along with many others.
Original puppets from the Wences vintage collection have been given to
Michele. She is using the original "Johnny" in the new Mercedes commercial.
Señor Wences puppets live on through Michele LaFong! She is living
a dream. S'allright? S'allright!
Michele LaFong may be available for your next special
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