Friday, November 28, 2014

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How Otto and George Became a Team

    Once upon a time, I was a 7 year old boy called Otto Petersen living in place called Staten Island. I was watching my favorite daytime children’s show, Winchell Mahoney Time. Two puppets called Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff fascinated me. I knew there and then…That’s the job for me.

I got a Danny O’Day doll - the kind with a string sticking out of the back of his neck that opens his mouth.  He lives in a suitcase in my closet until this very day. But still something was wrong…I needed a real wooden boy like Geppedo…Not a boy with wood like Michael Jackson.There once was a really cool Magic store at 1540 Broadway in the middle of Times Square called Louis Tannen’s.  It was up on the 17th floor.  There was George, locked in a glass cabinet.  He was $350 and he had to be mine.It took about 5 months performing with the plastic doll which I now called Chester, to raise the loot (with some help from my mom and two uncles).  Finally, I got the first real puppet and never looked back. I have had 1 job in my life.  Three weeks I worked in the garment district in NYC.  Three weeks, that’s no lie.

George, the way he looks now is pretty similar to that doll I bought in 1974. Central Park, Wall Street, Staten Island Ferry, Greenwich Village and Broadway…I did outdoor shows and passed the hat for years.  In Central Park one Sunday, I had john Lennon in my audience.  He waited until the crowd dispersed to say to me ‘the puppet is funnier, here’s two dollars.  Give George $1.50…you keep the rest’.  What a thrill, making a Beatle laugh!  Those were fun times.From the street to clubs all over the USA and Canada, I’ve been everywhere, man.There’s also been lots of TV and radio.  Big radio – Stern,  Opie & Anthony – I like them both.  They are all funny guys and you can listen to both.  End of story.In the beginning, there were street shows.  I always felt that if all the comedy clubs closed down for some reason, I would go back to busking and pick up where I left off in 1980! Of course I would have to go G-Rated, and that would suck Rhino Cock!