Bennett was asked to speak before about 1,500 people in the auditorium of the Texas State Fair at the State Fairgrounds. (Texas State Fair, via YouTube)
And speaking of “speaking before,” there’s one less of a story to tell. In a move that surprised even his closest friends, Matt Bennett, a 17-year-old sophomore in South Texas, did not speak, but a microphone was raised for the event from the gallery behind the stage.
“What you’re about to hear is not in any way a speech. It’s a ventriloquist’s dummy!” the microphone said. “If you listen closely, we had Matt Bennett speak before you tonight.”
That’s the way it was. As the microphone began playing the opening verses of “I Want You Back,” it wasn’t Bennett, mind you, but an audience member from the audience, and in fact, the exact time the opening song ended. In true Matt Bennett style, he raised up, and the music stopped. (The audience didn’t know the timing the entire time, but they did see the silence.) Bennett spoke, and then the “I Want You Back” song came on.
But Bennett is not a ventriloquist. He’s a high school student from South Texas, who recently scored a spot on an English literature class at the University of Texas, in Austin, and who is studying to become a computer programmer. On Thursday, his mother, Stephanie, who is well-spoken and is Matt’s mother’s niece, was in the audience. Stephanie told HuffPost she didn’t even know that Matt had any kind of interest in ventriloquism until it began playing.
“When I heard him speak to the crowd, my mouth went dry,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my God! Is he going to ventriloquize tonight?’ If that’s what he was doing, that has to be great!”
Bennett did not speak; a ventriloquist spoke at his feet, giving the crowd a few cues to follow and guiding them in their own breathing techniques. (Matt told HuffPost that he’s always been a “lazy” person when it comes to ventriloquism.)
“I don’t know what to say to this,” Stephanie Bennett told us after the event. “I have no idea if he knows what he did, he has no idea how much attention that got. It was great.”
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