The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


September 28, 2012

Dave Woods: ‘Talking’ dog spills beans about longtime partner

BRANSON, Mo. — For more than 105 years -- dog years, that is -- canine comedian Irving (no last name available -- he’s kind of like Cher, I suppose) and Todd Oliver, his comedic partner, have been making Branson audiences laugh.

The two have sailed the high seas of Table Rock Lake aboard the Showboat Branson Belle, performed in theaters around Branson and have now landed at the New Americana Theatre on Highway 76. A large statue of Irving, the show’s star, sits obediently in front of the theater.

More recently the pair gained national acclaim by performing to standing ovations on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” The pooch and his partner didn’t take the top prize, but Irving -- obviously the brains of the operation -- said that it was a good experience.

Irving said that Todd wanted to spend more time with his family, so he was happy to accommodate his longtime stage partner. They work together like paw and glove.

The pair have performed on stage with David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jay Leno and even Chuck Norris. Irving took a few minutes to talk in between shows recently, catching me up on what life’s been like since the national exposure of “America’s Got Talent.”

One-on-one with the popular pooch

 Dave Woods: Tell me a little about your relationship with Todd.

Irving: I was in this show, and Todd came in and walked up to my cage. I told him, “Sorry pal, we’re full. You will have to come back when we have an opening.”

DW: How long did you have to put him off?

Irving : I could tell he needed a lot of help. He couldn’t even tell his own jokes, so I had to teach him. There’s nothing sadder than an out-of-work ventriloquist.

DW : You had to teach him the trade?

Irving : Before he met me, the way his lips moved he could fan a fire.

DW : What did you see in Todd that made you give him a break?

Irving : Money! He had a family to feed.

DW: That’s all it took?

Irving : I figured that if his family is eating better, then I’ll get the leftovers and it will all work out.

DW : How long have you and Todd been working together?

Irving : Fifteen years. It has been a good partnership the entire time. If I want anything I just jerk on Todd’s chain, and he gets right on it.

DW : Sounds like a marriage, working with the same person for that long of a time.

Irving : He talks for me and I think for him. It works out pretty well. The truth is that if it wasn’t for me, Todd wouldn’t work at all.

DW : Do you like working in Branson?

Irving : Yeah, Branson is kind of like Mayberry with a cover charge. We love it.

DW : What is the secret to your success?

Irving : Here’s how it works. I’m man’s best friend. If people are good to their dogs, man and dog can accomplish anything.

DW : Do you have to keep Todd on a short leash?

Irving : Now that I’ve got him potty trained it’s a lot better. His wife’s the one who keeps him on a short leash. I just sit back and watch. People can laugh at me and I can laugh at them, too.

DW : Is Todd appreciative of all you have done for him?

Irving : He is. He knows which side of the dog biscuit his success is buttered on. No question about it.

DW : You sound like the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis of Branson.

Irving : Yeah, but I make Todd wear the dress. I think it’s disgusting. He wears one of his wife’s. He won’t even get his own.

Text Only
  • 071814_whiskeydicks.jpg Stretching out: Whiskey Dick's can do more in a bigger downtown location

    For the Whiskey Dick's owners, it isn't a matter of what's in a name but more of a place where everybody knows your name.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 072514_LIVEWIREcar.jpg Livewire's new video debuts on Billboard (w/VIDEO)

    The song is currently on Billboard's Top 40 charts for Texas Music and Texas Regional Radio Report. It is the latest release since the band's first full-length album, "Livin'," which was released in 2012 with Way Out West Records.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Film-Hollywoods Ape M_Cast.jpg Benji Tunnell: Great CGI, solid writing make 'Apes' a near-perfect blockbuster

    A couple of weeks ago, we saw "Transformers 4," a big, computer-driven blockbuster film that was symbolic of all that is wrong with filmmaking today.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • polyphony.jpg Marta Churchwell: New Mexico marimba group returns for concert Sunday

    They're back. Polyphony Marimba, the Santa Fe, New Mexico, band that wowed the crowd with African music during a Downtown Joplin Third Thursday last summer, received such a response to that performance that they're coming back on Sunday.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • River Regatta 2013.jpg Dave Woods: Nevada regatta makes for a birthday escape

    In just three weeks, I'll spend my 50th birthday floating down the Colorado River with 35,000 of my closest friends.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow 1 Story

  • 071814_pickin trimmin.jpg New festival focuses on short independent films

    As Jack Truman saw his films play in festivals around the world, one lingering thought persisted: He wished that such festivals existed in his hometown area.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071614 Glory Days_72.jpg Glory Days Music to resume weekly in-store concerts

    The staff at Glory Days Music have been working their business as usual. Musicians demonstrate guitars, drums and other instruments. Music is sold; lessons are taught. But something has been missing.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: All the hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    I sincerely believe the "Word Crimes" video will become the most important song in history, and the most mandatory-to-watch video in schools across the country.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014