Christine Barger is a ventriloquist, actress and improviser. She lives in Hollywood, California, United States.
DS: What are the most memorable years of your life and what happened to make them so memorable?
Christine Barger: My college years. That’s when I transitioned into adulthood. I got my first apartment. I had my first serious relationship. I got to travel to Europe and Costa Rica. I learned lessons and made friendships that last to this day.
I like to watch an entire TV series from pilot to finale as quickly as possible.
DS: Where were you born and where do you live now?
Christine Barger: I was born and raised in Northern Indiana surrounded by corn, cows and mint fields. I attended Ball State University where I was blessed with the opportunity to also study in London and Los Angeles. While on the exchange program in LA, I got cast in my first movie. It was a very small role in the film Along Came Polly, but it was enough to convince me that Los Angeles was the place for me. I've been living here ever since.
DS: How would you best describe yourself?
Christine Barger: I’m a sunflower standing tall in a field of roses.
DS: What are the must-haves in your daily wardrobe?
Christine Barger: I feel strange if I am not wearing a hat. My favorite one is a black pageboy hat that I bought from a street vendor in Toronto during a festival. Also, I prefer that my wardrobe is a combination of the colors purple and black. It’s rare to see me in any other color unless it’s wardrobe for a gig.
DS: Who do people tell you you look like?
Christine Barger: I used to get Janeane Garofalo all of the time, which I consider a compliment. She’s a very funny lady. I’ve also heard Thora Burch. Most people say, “You look like someone I went to high school with.” Apparently I have “one of those faces”.
DS: What is the compliment you most frequently get?
Christine Barger: “Wow! Your mouth doesn’t move at all!” Followed closely by, “You’re really funny.” Both are tremendous compliments in my field. However, my favorite compliment was from a group of kids, at a camp for children who had lost a loved one, and were learning to cope with loss. I performed ventriloquism and told my story. They found me inspirational, and I helped them slightly recover from the tremendous grief they were feeling. That to me is the best compliment.
DS: How did you end-up being a ventriloquist?
Christine Barger: When I was very young my amazing parents and I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago, while my baby brother was at Riley’s Hospital. When my brother passed away, I used my skill to cope. Then I went on to perform for other kids, as well as festivals and churches. My first time on stage I did ventriloquism in a local festival. I was only 7 years old. I got involved in plays and musicals at school and church, until I went off to college with a double major in theatre. In 1997 I performed at the convention in KY within the youth division. After the performance Jeff Dunham complimented me. Jeff and Sheri Lewis (Lambchops) had always been the two ventriloquists I looked up to most. He inspired me to try again at another event where I went home with an international title. My acting influences include Johnny Depp, Matthew Lillard, Will Smith and Dwayne Johnson. I aspire to be a good role model and a creative, fun, versatile actor with a solid family life outside of work.
DS: Can you tell us more about your job?
Christine Barger: As a ventriloquist, I book myself at private parties, corporate events, festivals, comedy clubs and so on. I write and perform my own material. I also use my improvisation skills in every show.
As an actress, I submit myself to casting offices for consideration for their upcoming projects, audition, take classes, watch a lot of TV and films, perform live shows and work on set. I also teach improvisation classes. I find teaching fulfilling because I can help others and learn from them while they learn from me.
I think the best advice I can give anyone on either path is to practice hard and keep your chin up. It can be very challenging to be an entertainer. You can often hear more no’s than you’d like when trying to book gigs. If you truly have a passion for it, then stick with it.
Photo by Bader Howar.
DS: Let's talk more about you and your tastes. Any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? Any thing you like and recommend?
Christine Barger: I love knitting. It’s so relaxing. I enjoy knitting for a charity called Stitches from the Heart. I had to cut back a little because I have carpal-tunnel syndrome. After all, I really need to have feeling in my hands to work my puppet “friends”.
I am the ultimate tourist. I go to museums, historical sites, attractions, whatever interesting thing I can find to do in a city, including the one I live in. In the past couple of weeks I have been to the Hollywood Museum, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the Museum of Psychiatry, ghost hunting in the Altadena park, rolled UPHILL at gravity hill in Pasadena and of course Disneyland. I am an annual pass holder at Disneyland and try to go at least every other Sunday after church. I recently discovered pin trading. Basically to become a pin trader you buy decorative lapel pins from the park, wear them on a lanyard and trade them with employees. I enjoy doing it because I get to meet interesting people all day long.
DS: What is a typical week for Christine Barger?
Christine Barger: A typical week for me includes writing material, going to comedy clubs, teaching improvisation classes, submitting myself for projects, going to auditions, booking myself, promoting, performing, spending time with my boyfriend, doing odd jobs for extra money, watching TV & movies, exploring the city and playing board games with friends. Did I mention I love board games? I do.
I don’t really party or go out on week nights. I am usually up late though. I’m either working or watching Netflix or both at the same time. I like to watch an entire TV series from pilot to finale as quickly as possible. There was one series in particular that kept me up a couple of days straight. What can I say? I got lost in LOST.
DS: Some quick questions: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Christine Barger: I hit the snooze button on my talking alarm. “Hello Sleepyhead, Rise and shine. Up, up, up, up, up, up…” SNOOZE!!!
DS: What is your favorite word?
Christine Barger: Unique.
DS: What it your favorite quotation? Or make your own for posterity...
Christine Barger: Never give up. It’s on a poster with a frog strangling a stork.
DS: What is your favorite "drug"?
Christine Barger: Laughter. I love to hear people laugh, especially if they haven’t for a long time, because of circumstances like being in the hospital or losing something or someone. Making people laugh is definitely my “drug” and I’m completely addicted to it.
The photo shoot
DS: What magic power would you like to have if you could choose one?
Christine Barger: The ability to grant wishes.
DS: If not yourself, who would you be?
Christine Barger: I wouldn’t want to be anyone else. I’m very happy being me.
DS: What is in store for you? Any key projects for the next months? Anything you want to share? Can our readers help you with anything?
Christine Barger: I am performing around the Los Angeles area as a ventriloquist and comic. I am working toward getting a more widespread reputation in the corporate world and festival circuit to obtain more bookings as a ventriloquist. I play a jaded waitress in an indie film, called Nesting, which will hopefully get distribution soon. I am in the process of writing my own webseries using ventriloquism to teach kids lessons. I am thrilled to be working on a project that my boyfriend and his writing partner are creating, in hopes of producing it ourselves in my hometown next summer. It will be my first time producing a feature, so I find it to be quite an exciting adventure.
DS: Anything you want to add to close this interview?
Christine Barger: Always remember to enjoy life and remind those you love how you feel about them every day.
Feel free to drop me a line through my website: www.christinebarger.com or check out my puppet “friends” at www.puppetgirl.net
DS: Thank you Christine Barger
Christine Barger: Thank you.