The Buckwheat and Joe Show
By Joe Tyler
People often ask me, "Can your bird talk?" I always say,
"Well ask him...Buckwheat, can you talk?" He answers back, "Can YOU
Buckwheat has learned to associate what I say with what I want him to say, to
get a reward. And hes done it in front of hundreds of people at a time. Being a
comedian myself, Ive enjoyed writing, rehearsing and performing jokes. So I know
what goes into preparing a routine; and Buckwheat has taught me what it takes to get a
much more heartwarming response than I could ever get alone.
Im known as "the birdman" at local schools. Weve played
many bird clubs, shows, university student lounges, TV appearances, and even an
ornithology class along the way. Its a lot of fun, but its also a lot of work
to keep him in performing shape. In all, Buckwheat has about 30 responses in each show,
and he talks and does avian stunts for over 14 minutes during our dialogue portion of the
show. I also do one liner jokes, an introduction to the African Grey Parrot and a poem
called "Buckwheats Song."
Buckwheat of Kilimanjaro recently celebrated his seventh birthday, or I should
say "hatchday." That wasnt the day that he was laid (tongue in beak). That
was the day that he pecked and clawed and scratched and dug and tore his way out of his
egg shell!!! Every year his "hatchday" gets bigger and bigger....were
going to have to rent a convention center next year. We had 20 people pile into our house
for a private party this year. Buckwheat kept looking at me as if to ask, "Why are
all these people in my living room?" We celebrated by doing the performance for which
we are both well known, "The Buckwheat and Joe Show."
BUILDING A COMEDY ACT
"How do you build a comedy show for a Grey Parrot?" you may be
asking. Buckwheat and I build the punch lines first. Thats when he learns to say
things like "Say hello Joe!!!" And then I come up with the lead-ins like this
one, "When Buckwheat wants to get control and take command of me, he says....."
"Say Hello Joe!" And then I say "Hello." My wife and I repeat the
punch lines to get Buckwheat in the mood to say them, and sometimes, he even makes them up
himself. Its my job then to get him to say them enough times, so that the phrases
can be phased into the performance. When I catch him saying a bit for the routine, I jump
up and give him a reward through the cage bars, or wherever he may be. If I cant get
a reward to him, I can say "Good Bird." He has learned over the thousands of
times Ive said "Good Bird" that he must either be a good bird, or that
Ive got something for him. In the training world, "Good Bird" is the
"bridge" to the reward. That is, he hears it and knows I like it, and therefore,
he does it.
Im Buckwheats "straight man" in the "Buckwheat and
Joe Show." Buckwheat starts out the act by showing off his pretty red tail feathers.
He does pirouettes on his T-stand. Then he does what I proudly call the "funky
chicken" in which he bobs his head and lifts his wings at the same time. Next in the
show he gives me a "high five," by holding up one foot as I hold up my hand.
Then I explain that actually its a high four because Buckwheat only has four toes.
Then I get him onto my hand for his spoken parts.
Buckwheat gets a reward during the performance for saying, "JOE..JOE, BARK
LIKE DOG!!" He can interrupt at any point during the show and be rewarded. This way
he gets a big laugh from the audience when I go, "woof..woof." Then I say,
"See folks, hes got ME trained." Just prior to this response, I get him to
bark like a dog, so turn about is fair play. Besides, repetition is one of the principles
of good comedy. And hell repeat, "JOE...BARK LIKE DOG," a few times
throughout the performance.
"The Buckwheat and Joe Show" demonstrates the abilities and trust
that one exceptional African Grey Congo has when taught in a nurturing environment.
Buckwheat was brought up performing and his confidence exudes with every show. He is by
nature shy, but when he gets in front of a large receptive audience, he turns himself into
a hilarious hunk of humorous bones. The effect is spectacular.
Buckwheat is the only African Grey I know that travels any distance to perform.
We have been as far away as St. Louis from Reno, and he takes travel well. We will be
performing in Atlanta for the Grey Play Round Table Convention in September 2000. So, if
you have a need for truly unique entertainment, please give Buckwheat a call. As his agent
and straight human, Ill set you up with a date.
BUCKWHEAT OF KILIMANJARO CAN BE REACHED AT (775) 329-3260 OR HERE ON THE
INTERNET AT: Joeptyler@aol.com