Sometimes when you’re watching a comedian, you can kind of tell who their influences were.. or at least be able to name another comic as a reference point when describing their act. Occasionally you’ll see a young open mic’er “channeling” somebody famous so closely that you really can’t think of anything else the entire time they’re on stage.
“Rock and Roll ventriloquist” Carla Rhodes, on the other hand, is an act so unique that she’s really in a class all by herself. Here’s the best comparison I can think up: imagine if the lovechild of Shari Lewis and Mick Jagger was raised by David Bowie. Can you even wrap your head around that? Imagine that girl running around Nashville at night jumping onto stages in between bands.. bringing suitcases of puppets and a guitar up on stage at the stand-up open mics.. then driving back to Murfreesboro just in time to get enough sleep to make it thru her classes at MTSU.
If you were a regular at the local Nashville comedy shows from 2000-2004, you can probably remember Carla doing just that.. but since then she has called New York City home. We hear from and about her from time to time – doing shows at alternative performance establishments and rock clubs all over New York City (such as Joe’s Pub, Le Poisson Rouge, Arlene’s Grocery, Highline Ballroom and Issue Project Room to name a few), making videos, getting shout-outs in magazines & on Late Show with David Letterman, plus making appearances on FUSE, The Learning Channel and Canal+..
Even in a city full of very unique people doing extraordinary things, Rhodes stands out as a true original. Trav S.D. from The Villager made note of this when he recently plugged her new show, “The Continuing Story of Carla Rhodes,” which blasts off this Thursday, January 14th at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC:
“I would be remiss in my duty to humanity if I did not send you in the direction of Arlene’s Grocery on January 14, for that is the date one of my favorite neo-vaudevillians, ventriloquist Carla Rhodes is debuting her new full-length show, aptly named “The Continuing Story of Carla Rhodes.” In my view, Rhodes is the Savion Glover of vents, almost single-handedly injecting a notoriously uncool and backward-looking performance branch with a badly-needed kick in the ass. Don’t get me wrong; Carla is PLENTY old school — but she also has at least one of her dainty feet planted firmly in the current century, or at least the tail end of the last one (which is more than you can say about just about any other vent). Carla is, in short, a rock and roll ventriloquist.
The current piece purports to tell her life story, but we won’t be stinted on bits with her favorite “partners”, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and another dirty old Englishman, Cecil Sinclaire. She also promises to unveil her new rock band The Extravaganzas and a new character with the enticing name Herschel Ragbottoms. Unless I have pneumonia or a pulmonary embolism, I will be there.”
The show follows the thread of Carla’s intricate and dysfunctional (emphasis on fun!) life story. How did a lil’ ol’ ventriloquist from Kentucky befriend stuffed effigies of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards? How on earth did she tread through the corn fields to make it to New York City? Why is her hair so fabulous? And why does she hang with a cantankerous 1920′s gentleman named Cecil Sinclaire? Will she go against all odds, throw the naysayers aside and achieve ventriloquial superstardom?
Find out for yourself! If you’re anywhere near NYC, you should go. Maybe you’ll even get some of the FREE PRIZES – “Cecil’s Special Saltwater Taffy” and a limited edition “Enjoy Carla” button!
“The Continuing Story of Carla Rhodes”
January 14th, 2010, 9.00pm
95 Stanton Street
New York, NY
(here’s the Facebook event)
If you can’t make it, at least you can enjoy the promo video for the event, which features 9-year-old Carla Rhodes singing “I’ll Be Loving You Forever”: