- Agro (puppet)
Agro is an
Australian puppetand media personality, operated by comedian Jamie Dunn.
The word 'agro' is Australian
slangfor 'aggravation', and may be used as an adjective to describe someone with a bad temperament. Agro is sometimes said to have the surname Vation, though the puppet is rarely formally credited with a surname.
Agro's humour was rather adult, with much sexual innuendo, cursing and disinhibition. He would often appear with an innocent-acting female offsider, who would be subjected to mocking and sexual behaviour. His pre-taped performances in those shows intended for a juvenile or family audience were obviously vetted before broadcast, but in the adult-oriented shows (and in the
Christmas tapes of " Agro's Cartoon Connection") his antics were well-received. Unlike many characters, particularly children's puppets, Agro often broke the fourth wall, making reference, for example, to the facts that he was a puppet, that his limbs did not move, and that a hand was up his back.
Agro was a fan of retired Australian
rugby leagueplayer Wally Lewis. Agro wrote and sung many songs about him.
The original Agro puppet was created by
BTQ-7employee Garry Rhodes. It was reputedly made from a bathmat, and Agro frequently described himself as a 'talking bathmat'.
The puppet is unusual in its construction. The puppeteer can open and close the mouth, and can also slide the 'eyebrows' back and forth. This allows Agro to make a sexually-suggestive 'leering' expression which he often uses. The eyes and limbs do not move.
Agro is similar to the
MuppetAnimal. The soft toy of Animal sold in the early 1980s may be trimmed to produce a puppet similar to the original Agro.
There was some squabbling between Rhodes and Jamie Dunn as Dunn attempted to claim creative ownership of the puppet. BTQ-7 and the parties involved reached a settlement that allowed Jamie Dunn to retain the rights.
In 2001 Channel Seven Productions enlisted puppeteer and puppet builder Warren Duxbury to rebuild Agro when the original Agro had deteriorated beyond repair. The new puppet was built for use on the revival of dating show "Perfect Match". The nose of the new puppet was noticeably different to the old one.
Agro hosted the following Australian television shows:
* "Wombat" (1983 - 1990)
Agro's Cartoon Connection" (1989 - 1997)
* "Super Sunday Show"
* "Perfect Match" (2002 revival)
Agro was a
guest hostfor " Tonight Live with Steve Vizard" on four occasions. He has also appeared as a guest on "Tonight Live" numerous other times.
He has also appeared on a number of Australian
telethons, particularly those that raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane.
Agro's radio credits include:
* "The Morning Crew" (1990-2005),
B105 FM's breakfast show. Agro performed prank telephone calls and also presented a segment "Agro to the Rescue", in which he would provide money or resources to a family or individual in trouble. Eventually the 'Agro' performances were credited to Jamie Dunn, and the 'Agro' character was marginalised.
* "The Zinc Morning Zoo" (2006-), with Ian Calder and Courtney Burns on Sunshine Coast FM
radio station"Zinc 96".
Agro has released four albums, a
Game Boygame, an arcade game ("Agro's Fantastic Arcade Game"), and a range of merchandise including action figures, stickers, lunchboxes, and children's clothing. He is patron of the Shandar Smith Foundation, a charity for children with cancer. [ [http://www.kidsintouch.org/moreaboutus.htm The Shandar Smith Foundation] ]
Dunn has never appeared "alongside" Agro, as a typical ventriloquist might. When Agro appears on camera or on stage, Dunn is always hidden, often by furniture.
Agro's on-camera roles became less frequent in the late 1990s as his radio commitments grew and the novelty of the character wore off. When Agro performed on radio, Jamie Dunn would sit in the studio and provide the Agro voice without actually operating the puppet. In time, these performances were credited to Dunn himself.
Dunn aspired to become a show-business personality in his own right, and so in time he appeared in promotional material for the B105 FM "Morning Crew" as himself. He used the 'Agro' character as a kind of alternative, more disinhibited personality (for example, when making prank telephone calls). The puppet itself was seldom seen during the 2000s. Dunn said at one point that Agro was 'in a suitcase somewhere'. More recently, Agro has appeared in promotional material for Zinc 96. [ [http://www.radiozinc.com.au/morning_zoo.html Zinc 96.1: Morning Zoo] ]
* 1987: Most Popular Children's Program: "Wombat"
* 1988: Most Popular Children's Program: "Wombat"
* 1989: Most Popular Children's Program: "Wombat"
* 1990: Most Popular Children's Program: "Wombat"
* 1991: Most Popular Children's Program: "
Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1992: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1993: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1994: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1995: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1996: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
* 1997: Most Popular Children's Program: "Agro's Cartoon Connection"
He also received a
Penguin Awardfor "Best Presenter of Light Entertainment".
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