Woman becomes human puppet during Family Funfest

Luis Martinez and Mackenzie Freund

Before Mark Rubbén made his way to Eastern, he had a brief yet funny encounter while visiting a public restroom. Rubbén, who thought he was having conversation with the patron in the next stall, realized the man was on the phone the entire time.

Rubbén, the comedian ventriloquist and one of the three main events for Family Weekend’s Funfest Saturday, said he hid in the bathroom for more than an hour before making his way out.

The three main entertainers included a ventriloquist, game show and a comedy hypnotist.

Rubbén is known for incorporating different characters into his act and interacting with audience members.

Rubbén during the show, he called upon a man in the audience to stand still to have his portrait taken.

Rubbén drew the man’s portrait free hand and what was revealed was the first puppet of the show, a talking whiteboard named Art.

Art, formally known as Drew, came to life in a packed room of more than 70 in 7th Street Underground, following back and forth banter between himself and Rubbén.

Rubbén attempted to draw Art a body; however, after Rubbén erased the body, Art said he felt like he lost a bit of weight.

Following Art, Rubbén brought out his second puppet, a Jamaican puppet called Rasta Mon.

Rubbén asked Rasta Mon what it was like traveling to Eastern, which Rasta Mon replied that the airline lost his luggage and he could not say anything because his voice was sitting in first class.

Rubbén asked Rasta Mon if he could do impressions and Rasta Mon said he knew how to do Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

Nash the hippie was Rubbén’s third puppet to appear and talked about how he thought the Drug Enforcement Administration was after him.

After a few jokes about college students and uses of marijuana, Nash said goodbye to the audience and out came the Swami.

The Swami was a mystic and psychic puppet and after Rubbén pulled a member of the audience on stage with him, the Swami made “predictions” about the girl’s future love life, even suggesting himself a few times during the performance.

Cletus Calhoun, another puppet of Rubben’s got audience members laughing, but it was his last act of the night that stole the show.

Aimee Navarro was attending the show with her fiancé and daughter when she was called on to the stage to join Rubbén in his last act as his puppet.

Rubbén placed a half-mask on Navarro’s face representing a mouth and Navarro had to act along with what Rubbén was saying as he controlled his “ventriloquist puppet.”

Navarro said she had a lot of fun being on stage with Rubbén, but was embarrassed.

“I thought he was really funny,” Navarro said. “He’s good at what he does.”

Jared Bumgarner, a Charleston resident, said he thought Rubbén’s performance was really good and said the best part of the show was when Rubbén involved the audience with the show.

“I like having all the parents come out and seeing the town getting really busy,” Bumgarber said. “I try to participate in the shows they do, that way they keep bringing back big name people and all of the big entertainment.”

The comedian hypnotist Erick Kand, set up in the Grand Ballroom, was another of the Funfest performances.

Kand had all of the attendees participating in different activities before he chose the group of people who would be on stage.

Brock Kukman, a sophomore elementary education major and one of the group members, said this was the third time he had been hypnotized, but does not remember much.

“I remember that I had a dog that could play dead,” Brock Kukman said. “That’s one of the things I remember for sure.”

Terese Kukman, Brocks mother, said she liked watching him up on stage.

“I thought the dog was funny and when they had him be a space creature,” Terese Kukman said. “I couldn’t find him because he had fell on the ground.”

Different colored lights filled the room while families filled the seats in preparation for the ThinkFast game night.

Each family acted as their own team and they got a remote where they would punch in their answers so they could get points for their team.

Johnny C, the game show host, would go through the audience and pick different people to do their 30 second challenges.

Participants were selected to dance, sing, debate, or act in a quick scene.

Four people were chosen to go up to the front of the ballroom and dance to 30 second remixes of different songs. After the first 30 seconds, Johnny C had them dance for another 30 seconds so the audience could see more of their dancing.

The game show ended with the final round where representatives from the three top scoring teams and the winner of the trivia speed round answered questions for a $200 prize and a bag of goodies from the bookstore.

Isaiah Carter, a junior biological sciences major, was the overall winner of the game show.

“I knew about half of the trivia and my family knew the other half,” Carter said. “We just guessed on what didn’t actually work.”

Carter said his little brother was one of the reasons they went to the game show and that his brother was one of the contestants during the 30-second dance challenge.

Johnny C said he liked the enthusiasm from the audience and some of the surprises that come with the show.

“It’s always interesting to see what happens in these little challenges when we get the people up to sing and dance,” Johnny C said. “You get to see the individuality of people and you just never know what they’re going to say.”


Luis Martinez and Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected] and [email protected]