Wedgwood is no dummyPublished 11:45am Tuesday, July 30, 2013
In 2003, James Wedgwood was diagnosed with a mass on his kidney and decided to undergo an alternative form of therapy. He took the therapy on the road with him, which he said made for some arduous months.
At least he had some friends with him along the way.
Wedgwood has been a professional ventriloquist since 1988, touring all over the country. Along the way, he has opened for country singer Glen Campbell and met fellow ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, who Wedgwood said has done a lot to bring attention to the craft. He also performed on the national television shows “The Statler Brothers Show” and “Crook and Chase.”
Wedgwood said the decision to undergo alternative therapy was influenced by his best friend’s experience facing kidney cancer some 10 years earlier.
“He died of kidney cancer in 1994, so I thought, ‘What have I got to lose?” Wedgwood said. “That was a tough decision, to eschew traditional healing methods.”
But Wedgwood survived his battle and continues to perform regularly. For years, he was based out of St. Paul but recently moved with his wife to a lake house in Clitherall.
Wedgwood has a stable of several characters, each with their own unique style and background. Stereotypical older man Uncle Ernie, leprechaun Patrick McWiggins and southern hunter Willard Twitsnoggle are a few of his live staples.
Wedgwood often works corporate events and also tours college campuses and state and county fairs. He said much of his success has come as a result of his style.
“People like that I work clean,” Wedgwood said. “So at their event they feel safe. They don’t have to worry that I’m going to cross a corporate culture line.”
Fergus Falls has been a popular stop for Wedgwood in the past and he said he has nothing but fond memories of his shows in the town. He said a show last year at the Bigwood Event Center required the building to supply 100 extra seats.
Wedgwood has written a book, “3,000 ‘Coffee Breaks,’” about his therapy experiences on the road. He has several performances throughout the rest of the summer, including several county and state fair dates.