WASHINGTON, D.C.—In an official ceremony held at the Justice Department Monday, ventriloquist Willie Tyler and his dummy, Lester, strongly condemned Una-bomber suspect Theodore Ka-czynski.
The news media, Clinton administration officials, FBI agents and numerous family members of Unabomber victims were present to observe the somber public censure, which took place as part of a double header with former Phyllis Diller joke-writer Mel Habusch.
In his first set, Tyler called the terrorist acts of the Unabomber “cold, senseless acts of terror, which wrought tragedy upon the entire nation.”
Tyler then turned to Lester to ask his opinion.
“Lester,” he said, “Do you think the Unabomber is a cold, senseless killer?”
“He is indeed,” Lester said. “He is a heartless monster.”
All in attendance were both touched by the ceremony and entertained by the amusing Lester, a diminutive, bespectacled replica of Tyler.
The Unabomber is suspected of mailing or planting at least 20 bombs since the late 1970s, killing three people and causing millions of dollars in damage. His Luddite manifesto revealed a misanthropic loner who resorted to anonymous acts of terrorism to further his political agenda.
Willie Tyler is a renowned ventriloquist who, with his dummy, Lester, has performed in venues nationwide, including the Stars Ballroom in Lake Tahoe and the Bahama Hotel in Atlantic City. He has also been a frequent guest on popular television programs such as The Merv Griffin Show, The Captain and Tenille Show, and Joe Franklin’s All Star Memories.
In a touching memorial to the victims of the Unabomber, Tyler employed skillful “rapid-fire” delivery between a ventriloquist and his dummy to list the names of the victims.
“Mary Watkins,” Tyler said.
“Mary Watkins?” Lester responded incredulously.
“Judge Thomas Whallen,” Tyler said.
“Judge Thomas Whallen?” Lester dutifully repeated.
“Lester,” Tyler said, breaking the rhythm momentarily. “I’m trying to read the list of Unabomber victims.”
“Oh, then go right ahead,” Lester said.
Lester then continued to quickly interrupt Tyler after each name, seemingly unhindered by Tyler’s polite request to stop the behavior. After a fast reading of the victims’ names, the audience applauded politely.
“I am pleased to add the voices of both Willie Tyler and Lester to the chorus of condemnation leveled at the Unabomber,” President Clinton said in a statement from the White House.
“It is important that we as a society condemn the Unabomber’s horrific acts of terrorism,” FBI director Bernard Whernan said. “And it is vital that both Willie Tyler and Lester be among the leading voices of that condemnation.”
In his second set, Tyler wowed the audience by censuring the Unabomber while drinking a glass of water.
As Tyler drank, Lester appeared to speak without difficulty, saying, “These heartless acts of terror perpetrated upon America have put a permanent black mark on our history as a nation.”
Attorneys for Kaczynski reacted strongly to the condemnation.
Said defense lawyer Albert Winnman: “My client has already been tried and convicted by the American media establishment. He cannot get a fair trial. A public condemnation from Willie Tyler and Lester only makes things that much worse.”
Willie Tyler and Lester plan to take their condemnation of the Unabomber on the road. They will headline at Shecky’s Joke Barn in Omaha, NE, on Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11. And they will appear at The Wacky Works Comedy Showcase in Des Moines, IA, Thursday, May 16, through Sunday, May 19.
The Unabomber trial date has not yet been set.