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Profile: Gary Lare

Date: April 24, 2000

Look who's talking:
Gary Lare speaks out with a little help from his friends.

UC professor Gary Lare, head of the Curriculum Resources Center, plays it straight when in the classroom. But with a slip of the lip, he transforms into a skilled performer, a ventriloquist, when he steps away from the blackboard.

Gary Lare and 'dummy'

"I became interested in ventriloquism when I was working with a church children's progam," said Lare, who started practicing his art 20 years ago. "It really gives me a high to see people laugh, to do comedy. I recently performed at a nursing home, and one of the directors told me she hadn't seen those residents laugh in a long time. I got them to laugh."

Lare, who came to UC in 1975, performs not only at nursing homes but at churches, banquets, schools, senior centers and community events. He works with a variety of "vent figures," commonly called "dummies," but one, named Mildred, is a favorite. "Mildred's an older lady, but she's quite a swinger. She's never been married, but writes a lovelorn column. She's always receiving funny letters and offering funny advice."

Ventriloquism is a creative outlet that demands humor and skill. Explained Lare, you use lip control, manipulation (raising the figure's eyebrows or opening and closing the eyelids), and dialogue. In one program, the conversation switches back and forth so quickly, it's hard to keep track of who's saying what.

So far, Lare is saving the laughs for his performances only. He doesn't let "dummies" come to class.

Other interests
I also play several musical instruments and play with a community band. I collect old-time radio shows on tape and CD as well as books about old-time radio programs.

What makes UC distinctive for you
It's in a city, but not in the heart of the city. That way, I can take advantage of all that the city has to offer.

What makes teaching and learning here distinctive
UC is comprehensive. You can study just about any subject and prepare for just about any field of endeavor here. This is especially important for choosing elective courses or providing for ease in changing majors. The university library system at UC is very forward thinking in its approach to making knowledge available.

What will students find at UC that they won't find elsewhere
We have a very friendly campus. Every time I walk across campus, there are any number of people that I do not know who greet me with a verbal acknowledgment or at least a smile. One may find this friendliness at some universities, but I've been at many other universities and this friendly attitude just doesn't seem to be the case.

What's fun and challenging about living in the UC community
In my case, I work a lot with the newer technology as it applies to teaching. It's fun to be a part of new developments and to see what effect they have on students. It's also a challenge, however, to keep up with all of the changes.

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