Cop dummies up as ventriloquist
- Last Updated: 4:41 AM, May 29, 2012
- Posted: 1:23 AM, May 29, 2012
He can read you your rights without moving his lips.
When NYPD K-9 Officer Vinnie Ewart isn’t protecting the public, he’s talking to puppets — or for them — as a ventriloquist.
Ewart, who performs in clubs, is a third-generation cop and former US Marine. He said joining the NYPD was a lifelong dream — but talking to dummies was not.
“I’m pretty reserved. Never in a million years did I think I’d like to talk in front of people at all,” said the father of three from Long Island, a cop since 1997.
He started to think about doing ventriloquism professionally when he couldn’t hold the attention of a classroom full of kids during a career-day talk.
“The kids asked if I ever shot someone, and I told them no. They asked if they could see my gun, and I told them no. They didn’t want to hear anything from me after that,” Ewart remembered.
Then he had an idea.
“I brought out a McGruff doll — did the whole take-a-bite-outta-crime thing — and the kids were just mesmerized. I thought, wow, this could work.
“It went really well, so I said, ‘I wonder if I can do this with adults?’ ”
He bought one puppet — an old man he named Gus — and worked on some jokes.
Soon, his cast of characters grew to include Earl, a hillbilly with a drinking problem; Miguel, a Mexican monkey with a libido problem (“He’s always hitting on the girls . . . He speaks Spanish and I always have to apologize because I don’t understand what he’s saying”); Roswell, an alien with a crush on Ellen DeGeneres; and soon to come are a pair of Siamese twins who share genitalia but not the same sexual orientation.
The Ching and Chang skit is one he won’t be taking back to the kiddies for career day.
“That’s strictly a club one,” Ewart insists.
Ewart has performed at the New York Comedy Club, and in 2010 auditioned for NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” He didn’t make the show, but appeared in three audition highlight clips.
His real claim to fame has come locally, at the NYPD Queens South Patrol Borough Talent show.
“He’s a favorite and a staple of the show. Every year, people come here looking for him,” said Assistant Chief James Secreto. “He changes his act every year, and every year it’s funnier than the year before.”
He admits he’s been tempted to use his gift to confuse drunken drivers at DUI checkpoints. But his ventriloquism comes in handy most often on his day job when he has to deal with kids and make them feel more at ease.
“Using it with suspects kind of takes away from your authoritativeness,” Ewart said.
“But if you have a kid that’s lost and you have a paper bag, all of a sudden, I just do a makeshift puppet and you have their attention.”
Ewart joined the Marines just after high school and stayed four years.
“I wasn’t going to be a lifer,” he said. “I always wanted to be a cop.”