Poor Lester. He's really a star, but because he's a wooden dummy he has to depend on a human, Willie Tyler. At least Tyler does his job perfectly: holding Lester steady, feeding him straight lines and keeping his own mouth shut when Lester is talking, which is most of the time. At The Door (formerly the Cellar Door), Willie and Lester are holding forth through tonight. Tyler has top billing, but there's little doubt the dummy is in charge.
Tyler and his afro-bedecked pal may be the best ventriloquist team working today. Their remarkably synchronized pacing and split-second timing had the crowd in stitches. Lester is a bit like Gary Coleman by way of Richard Pryor, street-sassy and wise beyond his years. "I could have been a lawn jockey, but I chose to be in show business," Lester proclaimed at one point. His expressive face revealed his only frustration to be sex; Lester has the will but not the way, and there are plenty of jokes built around that particular dilemma.
The show at The Door also included a rapid-fire recital of Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First" routine, a bit of duet singing and a lot of easy laughs. At one point, Lester surveyed the audience appreciatively and thanked them Las Vegas style: "You all make me feel real." Willie Tyler did a little double take, but Lester didn't pay any attention to it. He just went on with his show.