Growing up with Jimmy Nelson, Paul Winchell and Shari Lewis; Daniel took on ventriloquism at a very early age. At 12 he began performing and also became interested in magic.
He entertained for the first time while he was in 3rd grade in a Cub Scout Troup talent show. He had a hand puppet at the time that was a monkey and did a short skit that ended with “Tip Toe through the Tulips” with his best impersonation of Tiny Tim. Even though this was a pretty solid talent show he still took 3rd place (right behind a folk singer and a rock band).
Daniel Jay and his monkey puppet
As he got older he got interested in magic as well as ventriloquism and started practicing both. His parents bought him his first “professional” ventriloquist dummy when he was 14. This dummy was named Elmer and his father bought him from Abbott’s Magic Company. Daniel Jay only had him a short period of time when he had an accident and his face cracked (Elmer fell from the top of a hutch). His Dad fixed him as best he could and Daniel Jay got a wig from his neighbors to finish Elmer’s look. He performed with Elmer through most of High School and, in his junior year, ordered a new dummy from Alan Semok, a figure maker out of New Jersey.
Daniel Jay and Elmer
Throughout the rest of High School and up until the summer of 1980, Zifferino Loon Pablo Missello was the only puppet that Daniel Jay used. In the summer of 1980 he attended his first ventriloquist convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky and bought a cat puppet he named Fuzzball after his girlfriend’s (Sue Fabian) favorite cat. It took him years to come up with a routine for Fuzzball but now Fuzzball is a fan favorite.
Daniel Jay and Ziff