When you see a ventriloquist your initial thought might be: "Oh my god, this is going to really suck."
At least, that's what puppeteer David Strassman says. But the American comedian has proved his own words wrong time and time again.
Known for his comedy chat show, Strassman - which aired on TV2 in the early 2000s - the self-professed "grown man who plays with dolls for a living" has endeared himself to several generations of Kiwis over the years with his relatable cast of characters.
And now he has returned to do it again, live.
Starting tonight in Whangarei and working his way across the country, Strassman will "hold up a mirror to society" with his most beloved cast of puppet characters: Chuck, Ted E Bare, Grandpa Fred, Kevin the Alien and Sid the comic Beaver.
"Everybody is now online on their smartphones," he tells TimeOut.
"We are all stuck with our noses in our screen checking emails, text messages, Facebook, Instagram. The entire world is one click away - but is all that technology keeping us from using our imaginations?"
"That's the question I pose and with the help of my crazy puppets."
Ironically, Strassman wants to raise this question using the latest in technology. His brand new show, iTedE, will feature a device that allows him to operate all five of his puppets simultaneously as he throws his voice to each of them live on stage.
"I'm breaking the laws of puppet physics using the most advanced technology of robotics and wireless communication that you'll find on any stage," he says.
"I am lambasting technology while using the most advanced technology."
Of course, this is a comedy show after all and Strassman promises to bring "jaw-dropping, mind-blowing" hilarity to his New Zealand fans.
"There's nothing like live theatre to really take you away from your daily grind and troubles ... the message I give at the end is really fun and uplifting."
So what is the second thought that runs through your head when you see a ventriloquist?
Strassman says it's: "Is this guy sucking, or is it actually good and entertaining to watch? - Oh, look! It's good!"
He could very well be right.
What: David Strassman's new show, iTedE
Where and When: Touring nationally March 2-19, visit davidstrassman.com for more information.