Denise Mattingly, bringing smiles to others

The Courier-Journal: Snapshots of People at Work

With more than 30 costumes, singing telegram jester Denise Mattingly appears at children’s parties, corporate events and “everything in between,”

Talent: “I’ve always worked in some type of show business. I’ve been talent, bought talent, managed talent and have been a talent agent. I officially opened for business as a modeling agency and school. I had an actress that I booked as Marilyn Monroe, she flaked out on me and I had to do the gig myself. I never looked back!”

A messenger: “While I’m a LLC, I’m really just a chick in the basement. Sometimes people book me directly but usually I’m booked through an agent or party planner. I have no shame and will do anything to get the laugh. I write the jokes, learn the songs, design the looks, I want that payoff. I’m not that great a singer but I’m a fantastic messenger!”

The work: “Some events are planned weeks in advance, other people call the day before they want a show. A telegram may only last five minutes but hours go into making it happen. I’m provided with facts (quirks, inside jokes, nicknames) on the lucky person, then take that info and put together my shtick. Getting to the right person can be a challenge: finding the location, the lucky person, who I have never met before, and bust out a show. The tricky part — the correct recipient. Descriptions can be a bit vague — at a nursing home, the contact person will tell me ‘the lady with gray hair in glasses’ or going to a business office, look for ‘the man in the suit.’ ”My roles: “Once I dressed up as an arrested, escaped, mental patient (inside joke). The telegram was for a police detective. His fellow officers put me in handcuffs and had me in an interrogation room! I really worked on that telegram; the detective thought I was real! Also, I once performed at a divorce hearing and dressed up as a fat lady and sang, because, well, it was over.”

Easter: “Soon I will be the Easter Bunny. I’ve played this role for several years at a country club. It’s so awesome because I’m watching the children grow up. I feel like I know them. I love those children; they are always thanking me for the gifts I left them the night before.”

3 is a Magic Number!
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