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School assemblies don’t have to be either educational or fun — they can be both, which is why Joe Gandelman & Friends visit schools year after year offering entertainment for kids. Kids and teachers LOVE Joe’s shows and they’ll be thanking you again for inviting him to your school — and asking you to bring him back again and again. All of Joe Gandelman’s school shows feature a big cast of characters, interactions, and his famous Learning Through Laughter(TM) technique, which seamlessly mixes entertainment and information, so kids can laugh, learn, and retain everything. (See the school testimonials at the bottom of the page.)

Joe, John Raven & Kids

Joe and his pal John Raven entertain some kids

More Than 33 Years of School Shows

For more than 33 years, Joe Gandelman & Friends have performed at schools throughout the country, which included two special tours of schools throughout the US and in Canada. All of the shows are carefully adjusted to each age group. Some schools have used the show for a mixed K – 12 audience.

Just Pick, Mix, or Customize (for Free) Your School’s Theme

There are several themes to choose from; however, schools can also request mixed themes, or Joe can adopt a school’s customized requested theme at no extra cost. The most popular assemblies are:

Secrets of Ventriloquism: Students enjoy a highly educational and entertaining fast-paced show mixing comedy, interactions, and information about ventriloquism and puppetry “secrets.” Some students can get up and try a dummy themselves.

Joel the Troll talks to kids

Joel the Troll talks to kids

Respect = No Teasing/No Bullying: The most popular theme. It defines teasing and bullying, explains their impact on the victim and aggressor, stresses the importance of making good choices, emphasizes the meaning and fact of consequences, and underscores zero tolerance for bullying — and for cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is also covered — read more here.

Antidrug Show: Good decisions, actions, choices, and the importance of making healthy choices are covered. Schools differ on how to approach the theme, so each school is consulted, which allows Joe to include any of its preferred points. Content varies with each grade level. It’s often combined (at school request) with anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol.

Anti-Tobacco Show: Developed at the request of a Northern California school district, this program is crammed with memorable anecdotal and statistical anti-tobacco (cigars, pipes, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and updated to include electronic cigarettes) information, all neatly framed within the context of a fun show.

Joe, John and an audience member chat at a school assembly

All of Joe Gandelman’s shows feature a BIG cast of characters, interaction, and his famous Learning Through Laughter® technique.
Click here to learn more about Joe and the work he does.

Pro-Reading: The joy and importance of reading books (and on computers) are emphasized throughout. Joe Gandelman is an avid reader and writer, and his lifelong love for books and reading comes across — which is why this program is booked heavily at libraries and schools throughout California. This show is often combined with the Family Nights show for an amazing, one-of-a-kind event.

Cultural Diversity: Joe draws on his experience working and living as a reporter in Asia and Europe, and as a US-Mexico, border reporter to stress the importance, beauty, and cultural enrichment aspects of diversity. He will touch on his visits to numerous countries, including India, Bangladesh, Iran, Spain, Italy, Greece, England, Israel, Mexico, France, Israel, and Afghanistan. Anecdotal and statistical information is included. All of the elements of the Secrets of Ventriloquism are included in this popular show as well.

Canadian school kids loved Joe's virtual anti-bullying show

11,563 Canadian school kids can’t be wrong:
They loved Joe’s virtual anti-bullying show on Pink Shirt Day carried by Joyful Learning.

Endangered Species: Explains the concept, dangers, and what students can do to help out.

It’s Cool To Stay in School: The importance of staying in school is stressed throughout.

Water Conservation and Protection: Specific ways students can help conserve water, how water is wasted, and how it is protected are covered.

Be Careful of Strangers: A safety message is inserted throughout the show. Internet safety is touched on, with a stronger message for middle-school students and a warning about cyberbullying.

Pretest Assembly: A show that helps prepare kids for important state testing. Topics include the importance of following directions, getting to bed early, having a good breakfast, realizing you already know the material and will do well, and not getting stuck on trying to answer one problem. School can also mix in its own suggested tips. (Joe Gandelman has a BA degree from Colgate University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.)

Joe voices Axtell Expressions' Little Tree puppet

Joe was brought in by Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy in Beverly Hills to voice Axtell Expressions’ Little Tree puppet in a special day of programs celebrating TuVishvat, New Year of the Trees.

Other Requested Themes Include: Internet safety, nutrition, the importance of doing homework, Optimism, and help with fundraisers are covered.

Family Nights (Recommended): Includes the 60-minute program with the show and 15 minutes on how to do ventriloquism, using student volunteers.

Special Motivational Program: Joe will mix parts of his show with a presentation about goal setting and the importance of education, persistence, research, reading, and networking — drawing on and pointing to his experiences as a college student, graduate student, freelance journalist overseas on two continents, staff reporter on two American newspapers, entertainer, and prominent “blogger” on the internet. The program is used by some middle schools and high schools.


“Joe was hilarious. He came to our school to perform in front of our First, Second and Third Grade classrooms. He kept them well entertained while sharing information about empathy and kindness to people and to animals. Joe really kept all the students’ attention from the beginning to the end. They were laughing so hard that many of the students couldn’t stay seated. Thank you Joe for such a fantastic 45 minute show.”

– Lou Henry Hoover School of Fine Arts, Whittier, CA

“Hold on to your hats, folks, because Joe Gandelman and his puppet posse just blew the roof off of 112th Street Elementary School. If you’re looking for a ventriloquist who can captivate a room full of wiggly, giggle-prone kiddos, look no further than this charismatic performer and his hilarious cast of characters!

Forget boring old lectures and dry textbooks. Joe’s got a menagerie of mayhem-makers that’ll have your little ones hooked from the get-go. From the Elephant to the quick-witted Dragon, to the loveably bumbling dog, each puppet boasts a distinct personality and a side-splitting sense of humor. The kids were roaring with laughter at the elephant’s sassy one-liners, gasping in mock fear at Dragon’s threats, and howling with delight at The Dog’s clumsiness. I have never seen our students more engaged! Joe Gandelman and Friends came to our school and brought such JOY! He performed two shows, one for Kinder through 2nd Grade and another for 3rd grade through 5th grade. He tailored each performance for the level of the audience!

Interactive Extravaganza:

But Joe doesn’t just stand there and throw his voice. He weaves the puppets into a whirlwind of interactive skits and silly challenges. He had the kids guessing riddles thrown out by the puppets and even volunteering to be part of the show! Seeing their faces light up as they interacted with their favorite furry (or feathered) friends was pure magic.

Master of Mirth:

The real star of the show, though, is Joe himself. His energy is infectious, his timing impeccable, and his improvisational skills on point. He seamlessly switches between characters, throws in witty asides, and even manages to keep the teachers and parents chuckling in the back. He’s clearly passionate about his craft and has a genuine knack for connecting with kids, making the whole experience feel warm, inclusive, and side-splittingly funny.

Final Verdict:

If you’re looking for an educational and entertaining experience that’ll have your elementary schoolers begging for more, Joe Gandelman and Friends are the puppet power team you need! With their hilarious characters, interactive antics, and genuine love for kids, they’re guaranteed to bring laughter, smiles, and maybe even a few drool-worthy giggles to your next school event.

Five out of five stars! (And a whole lot of high-fives from the kiddos!)

P.S. If you’re lucky enough to catch Joe’s show, keep an eye out for Elephant’s water trick. It’s a laugh riot (and possibly a wet experience)!

I hope this review captures the magic of Joe Gandelman and Friends’ performance. Remember, these are just my two cents, so be sure to check them out for yourself and see what all the fuss is about!”

-112th Street Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA

“Joe performed at our School assembly last March 30, 2023. He didn’t just entertain both incoming 6th graders and middle schoolers who go to our School District, but he also entertained our staff and teachers. It really showed in his performance that he is very passionate about his craft and he always makes sure that he engages everybody in the gym. He was very prompt and came two hours early before the scheduled show which showed his work ethic and professionalism. Overall, it was a wonderful and successful performance.”

– Whiteriver Middle School, Whiteriver, AZ.

“Mr. Gandelman, family entertainer, is a seasoned ventriloquist. He made the trek from San Diego to the North San Francisco bay area to share his talent with our school. The kids roared with laughter and really enjoyed the show. Some of our younger kiddos were a little scared, but Mr. Gandelman took 5 minutes towards the end, took the time to share a bit about how he does what he does and showed them how the puppets work, that they are not real and it is all controlled by him for entertainment. This was a great way to share a deeper dive into his craft to the student body. Thank you, Joe, for visiting San Ramon Elementary in Novato, CA.”

– San Ramon Elementary, Novato, CA.

“Joe is a natural performer!!! I hired him for our second grade classes and he literally had them jumping in their chairs in excitement. He is so kind and such a pleasure to work with! He was able to customize our show around thanksgiving and with every puppet he brought out, he was able to somehow mention thanksgiving which was amazing. He had the kids engaged the entire hour. . I appreciated that he arrived early to check in, set up and make sure he was ready to go on time. Joe picked a few students to go up and learn how to be a ventriloquist. They absolutely LOVED that part and didn’t want the show to end. It was such a success that I’d love to hire him next year for tue 3rd grade classes!!!! Joe is amazing and I’m so glad I found him. True class act!”

– Rancho Christian School, Temecula, CA

“We had Joe and his friends visit our two school sites, TK-3rd and 4th-8th Grades. Our TK-3rd Grade site had an anti-bullying theme and our 4th-8th Grade site had an internet safety theme. Joe did a wonderful job building the theme into his shows. Students were incredibly engaged and of course there were many belly laughs!

Students came away with a bit more knowledge about each topic, how to be a ventriloquist, and great memories of when a ventriloquist visited their school. They are still talking about the show! Joe was very gracious and flexible. He worked around our schedule and he was so easy to work with. It is without any reservation that I recommend Joe Gandelman.”

– Dairyland and Alview Elementary schools, Chowchilla, CA

“Thank You Mr. Gandelman! We at New Hope Elementary were very fortunate to have witnessed the wonderful world of ventriloquism! Mr. Joe Gandelman, with the help of his many characters, amazed the students with his entertaining, funny and educational presentation. His audience participation and sharing the “tricks of the trade” was especially engaging for both students and staff.”

– New Hope Elementary School, Thornton, CA

“I had Joe and Friends come to my former school about a decade ago and was so pleased that not much had changed when I invited him to perform for my current 6th graders. His show is very funny and engaging, yet his sincere approach to anti-bullying and anti-substance abuse was not lost in the comedy. The teachers and students talked about his show for the rest of the day, many of whom started following him on Tik-Tok! He is a master at his craft of ventriloquism and is a true performance artist. I highly recommend it for any age group!”

– Melissa S., Emerald Middle School in El Cajon, CA

“ROCKSTAR AS USUAL! Joe was so flexible creating a custom show special for our needs. He was so outgoing, engaging, and fun! Thank you!”

– Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy, Beverly Hills, CA
Joe and friends pose at school

Joe’s friends pose for a picture.

“Awesome Performance! Joe did a virtual show for 400 elementary age students and the kids were so excited! They were entertained the entire time as Joe got everyone involved and we all participated and laughed and smiled at the witty jokes. We loved all the variety of puppets Joe had to offer and appreciated how he connected to the young audience.”

– Hollingworth Elementary School, West Covina, CA

“We loved the Joe Gandelman and Friends show from beginning to end. Joe kept the kids entertained the whole time. He was hilarious and kept us laughing the whole show. Highly recommend it!”

– The Winston School, New York, NY

“Joe has done an excellent job with our summer virtual camp and now our virtual after school program, Dash Camp Afterschool. Joe’s show is definitely a fan favorite.In addition to his awesome show, Joe has been very accommodating, honoring any requests we may have, and providing awesome feedback on how to make the overall experience better for our campers. Joe is a huge team player, a great talent and his show is just so fun!! Both kids and adults are guaranteed to laugh a lot during his show. I highly recommend Joe for virtual or in person shows. Huge thanks for everything Joe! -Dash Camp Afterschool Team

– Nhadya S. , Yulee, FL.

Reaction to a virtual show for a PTA in the Bronx:

“Joe was great! Everything about the show was fantastic. The kids and families were very engaged and entertained. Joe kept everyone involved and encouraged kids to participate. The characters kept coming out of his sleeve. He’s super friendly and reaches out to the kids in so many ways. You couldn’t tell it was a virtual show based on the kids’ reaction. At the end of the show he even taught the kids some secrets of the profession! Highly recommended!”

– Ophir A. FROM BRONX, NY ON 6/3/2020

“Joe was awesome. We had him entertain a group of kids aged 1 – 6th grade and they loved him! I highly recommend Joe!”

– Marian G., Encinitas, CA
“Our elementary school enjoyed Joe’s ventriloquist/puppet show. He was funny and delivered a good red ribbon week message to our students.”  
– Newhope Elementary School, Santa Ana, CA
“A big heart with a focus on the students! Joe exceeded our expectations with meeting the needs of the students and being flexible to reschedule due to some inclement weather. A great communicator with administration and won the hearts of the students! I highly recommend him.”  
– Jamestown Elementary School, Jamestown, CA
“We’ve had Joe several times at our school to perform at our character assemblies. He is very professional, always arrives on time and always puts on a good show.”  
– Casa Blanca Community School, Bapchule, AZ
“Joe performed two outstanding shows to top off our Red Ribbon Week activities. Our students, many of whom had never seen a ventriloquist, loved him and his “friends”. A hit with our kindergartners was the spinning head! Joe infused the anti-drug theme into the program with personal messages that young students could understand. Joe, thank you for traveling hundreds of miles to bring laughter to hundreds of kids!”  
– Tuba City Boarding School, Tuba City, AZ
“The assembly was fantastic! One staff member said, ‘He should have an act in Vegas!’ The kids laughed the whole time—it was the perfect combination of teaching important concepts (diversity, tolerance, and respect) dashed with a good dose of humor. Thank you!”  
– Braly Elementary, Sunnyvale, CA
“Mr. Gandelman was entertaining for all groups including our teachers. He did an excellent job educating students with a clear message appropriate for each audience.”  
– PTA, Marie Curie Elementary School, San Diego, CA
“We’ve used Mr. Gandelman several times. Mr. Gandelman is a true professional with a strong affinity with his audiences.”  
– Caesar Chavez School. Coachella, CA. (Bilingual show for lower grades)
“I enjoyed watching some of our rougher students become involved with your performance. They began by laughing quietly in the rear of the room and slowly worked their way to the foot of the stage to be closer to your act. Your ability to successfully include both staff and students in your skits made the performance even more meaningful.”  
– Gavilan View Middle School, Salinas, CA
“Joe took our ‘Sticking our necks out for kids’ and used it in his message. Outstanding!”  
– Mill Stream Elementary School, Norridewock, ME
“The students were enthralled and entertained. Thank you for a fun morning and for incorporating our anti-bullying and reading messages into your program.”  
– Kenyon-Wanamingo Elementary School, Wanamingo, MN
“Our middle school students loved this assembly. The message about bullying is a very good one! He did the message with laugher and positivity. Thank you!”  
– Wind Gap Middle School, Pen Argyl, PA
“Very entertaining, engaging, timely and important message and literacy connected.”  
– Mother Teresa Catholic School, Russell, ON, CANADA
“Delivered a tailored message to our school. Joe took the “sticking our necks out for kids” and used it in his message. Outstanding!”  
– Mill Stream Elementary School, Norridgewock, ME
“The students were enthralled and entertained. Thank you for a fun morning and for incorporating our anti-bullying and reading messages into your program.”  
– Kenyon-Wanamingo Elementary School, Wanamingo, MN
“You and your “family” were a great hit with the kids AND staff. I especially want to thank you for your workshops throughout the day. Our students were so impressed, especially our Jr. High wing.”  
– Hayfork Elementary School, Hayfork, CA
“I recommend Joe Gandelman and his anti-drugs, building self-esteem program. Mr. Gandelman performed for our 310 7-12 graders an stayed all day and taught our 7th and 8th grade classes ventriloquism, and later our 11th and 12th grade Theater Arts students . He does an outstanding job of entertaining — and teaching — our kids.”  
– Ganado Jr. High-Senior High, Ganado, TX
“The show was a perfect fit! The wide variety of puppet characters and different voices had them laughing and entertained them the whole time.”  
– P.S. 276, Brooklyn, NY
Joe Speaks for a Young Volunteer at a School Assembly

Joe Speaks for a Young Volunteer

“I told him that I wanted the kids excited about reading and have fun. Mr. Gandelman’s assemblies did that and more. If the assemblies could motivate one student to read and to do research, then I would have accomplished my objective. After he left, a student approached me and was so excited about what Gandelman did with his characters. The student wanted to learn about ventriloquism. He wanted to read! And that’s what I wanted!”  
– School Program facilitator, Bradley Elementary School, San Bernardino, CA
“It’s not easy to keep both parent and students entertained for an entire hour family night, but that’s exactly what Joe Gandelman did. He had an entire auditorium mesmerized . Every time he brought out a new puppet, the kids roared . He also stuck around after and talked to kids about the behind the scenes of puppetry.”  
– Clearview Elementary, Chula Vista, CA
“Terrific assembly. You taught, entertained and involved our 7th and 8th graders. Many teachers and students expressed their delight with your informative and humorous approach.”  
– Wilson Jr. High School, El Centro, CA
“My whole class and myself agree that you are our favorite performer/assembly/visitor of the whole year. Show makes us all laugh so hard, especially me! I laughed so hard I cried, for two years in a row now! As we walked out of the assembly today, I had at least 5 students come up to me and say they wish they could stay and listen to you all day(me too)!”  
– Fifth grade teacher, Oak Elementary, Huntington Beach, CA
“It s obvious that Joe has invested a great deal of time in perfecting his presentation and continues to adjust to meet his varied audiences needs.”  
– Mesa Verde Middle School, Poway, CA
“By far the best show we have had at our school!”  
– John R. Lawrence Elementary School, Archdale, NC
“Good message. Enjoyed by students and faculty alike!”  
– Mt. Hall Elementary School, Bonners Ferry, ID
“Our students were absolutely delighted with the show. Teacher’s comments were “Best assembly we’ve had all year…I m ready to start bake sales, if I have to, so we can get him back next year!”  
– Mammoth Elementary School, San Manuel, AZ
“The students were so engaged and LOVED your jokes. [The] Head of the Lower School, was delighted with your program, too. The teachers loved watching their students become involved. Thanks again!”  
– The Alexander Dawson School, Las Vegas, NV 89135
“Everyone — students and teachers alike — thoroughly enjoyed it! Parents commented the following day that your program was the topic of conversation at the dinner table that night.”  
– St. Cornelius School, Long Beach, CA
“The students were completely enthralled (in your assemblies) to promote drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse prevention. By humorously weaving the theme throughout your presentation, students are more likely to retain.”  
– Luther Burbank School, Santa Rosa, CA
“I never HEARD such laughter! Your positive rapport with students is rare among visiting performers!”  
– Jack s Valley Elementary, Minden, NV
“Your act was very entertaining for all of the kids and the teachers. Many students and teachers have commented that yours was one of the best assemblies that we have had. We will be talking to teachers and parents at other school sites recommending you to their schools.”  
– Gardnerville Elementary, Gardnerville, NV

Student feedback from a special anti-tobacco  elementary school  program in Brumfield, Indiana:

“(Your program) was entertaining and I think you are a great influence on kids my age, younger and older. I truly believe you help stop the increase of tobacco (use) with kids my age and older.”  
– Mollie
“Thank you for telling us about tobacco. I told my brother about it. Then he told his friends. You did good with the puppets.”  
– Nick
“It wasn’t about the dummies or the jokes or the songs — it was showing us what smoking can do to your body. So I made a choice. Did I really want that to happen to me? I don t think so. One thing is for sure. I’ll never smoke.”  
– Dominic
“I liked how (Joe) informed us about how we can get sick and from using ANY kind of tobacco including chewing tobacco. From hearing that I will never use any of those. I also like how (Joe) incorporated the idea of ventriloquism into his act. He didn’t just use puppets and dummies he also used people. His act was educational and fun at the same time.”  
– Arik
“You taught us a lot of things. You’re a cool dude.”  
– Adam


Twinkl and their content team featured us on their Top Virtual Field Trips for Homeschoolers- you can read more here.

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