BEST BETS: Little person bringing big fun to Tom’s Bullpen

Although he’s technically a dwarf, it’s OK to call Stevie “Puppet” Lee a midget. He won’t get offended. Political correctness is not his bag. Never has been.

Stevie Lee

Stevie Lee

That’s why he terms his Half Pint Brawlers a group of midget wrestlers. During his Small Stature, Huge Laughter comedy routine, he jokingly talks about his life as a person who has always been different from the rest.

The Chicago-area resident will be in town next weekend at Tom’s Bullpen in Dover for two nights. On Aug 4, he’ll bring his standup comedy routine. The following night, he’ll join the Half Pint Brawlers for a night of wrestling and hijinks.

“The Little People of America tried to ban me from using the word ‘midget.’ But it’s a marketing tool for me. Nobody is coming out to see little people wrestling. There’s no shame to the word ‘midget.’ It came from the early days of the circus. You know exactly what you’re getting,” said Mr. Lee, who stands 4 feet, 4 inches tall.

In 2011, his “Half Pint Brawlers” television show on the Spike TV network ran into controversy from the LPA due to its use of the word.

“I’ve never belonged to the LPA. I don’t feel like people need a support group taking advantage of a situation. Do you really need that? I always tell people ‘Prove yourself like everyone else has to.’ They don’t even want little people to play little people (movie or TV) parts,” he said.

“I get on radio debates and say I’m sorry you’re offended. I want to put myself out there and use what I’m able.”

In addition to starting the first midget wrestling organization 25 years ago, Mr. Lee has appeared in films such “The Babe,” “Jackass 3” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” the TV show “American Horror Story: Freak Show” and been featured on the Howard Stern and Mancow radio shows.

He’s also been a stunt man and has appeared all across the country doing his comedy, wrestling and much more, including stripping and bungee jumping. The only state he hasn’t appeared in is Maine and he’ll be crossing that one off the list later this year.

“America’s a great place. If you’ve got something, create something out of it. I love to be able to develop, build and create,” he said.

“I remember 25 years ago being the first person to bring midget wrestling to bars. Now there are tons of copycats but we were the first to do it. Before that, midgets were just biting wrestlers on the ankles, being clowns. We bring fun to it but also show we can be real athletes.”

As the television show portrayed, Half Pint Brawlers can get serious, having used razor blades, barbed wire, staple guns and an eight-foot steel cage in the past.

“We’ve always used a regular ring. We just fall farther when we jump off of it,” he joked.

The crowd at Tom’s Bullpen on Aug. 5 can expect to see wrestling in the ring. But don’t be surprised to see it elsewhere.

“We’ll be all over the place. We jump off the bar. I always say ‘if you see a midget flying by your ankles, don’t kick him,’” he said.

His full comedy act is pretty new, having been developed in the last few months. Previously he would tell some jokes prior to a wrestling gig, but now he’s spending a whole night doing it on Aug. 4.

Although he’ll still be wrestling, he knows that won’t last forever.

“After 25 years, the body can only take so much in the wrestling world. Even though you love it and you feel like you were born to do it, the body might be telling you to stop eventually. I’ve been in those eight-foot steel cages and been thrown through a table. It’s been interesting,” said the 48-year-old Mr. Lee.

His comedy consists mostly of making fun of himself. For instance, he talks about how little people can always be employed.

“Around the holidays, we’re elves. Come January we are the New Year’s baby. In February we can be Cupid and it goes from there,” he said.

Along with the jokes, he’ll likely be limbo dancing and doing whatever he can think of to provide the laughs.

He says his fun-loving attitude was instilled at an early age by having a supportive family as he was the only one living with dwarfism.

He remembers his older brother taking him to school on his first day of kindergarten and standing close by as the other kids surrounded and taunted him.

“My brother always taught me to be a fighter. I was always a physical kid. I punched my way out of that circle and impressed the other kids so much that by the end of the day, they were over at my house playing,” he said.

Taking a cue from that, he’s been writing a book about his life called “Outside the Circle.”

He said discrimination is based on fear and a lack of understanding.

“Every single day of my life I get stared at. A little child will come up to me and wonder what the heck I am. They don’t think I’m bad. They are just curious. He might say to his mother, ‘why is that guy so short?’ Seventy percent of the time, the parent will get embarrassed and sometimes spank the child,” Mr. Lee said.

“But what does that teach the child? ‘I can’t be curious or ask questions? Otherwise I’m going to get in trouble.’ So if I just go up to the child and say ‘God made me this way, buddy,’ the question is answered and he’ll start telling me about Minecraft and we start talking and interacting on his level. And the next time that child sees a little person, he’ll think ‘That guy’s like Puppet. He’s cool’ And it won’t even be an issue.”

A husband and father, Mr. Lee has a television pilot in the works and more films, as well as his comedy and wrestling tours. He said he’d love to have a career like a certain “Game of Thrones” actor.

“Peter Dinklage broke the mold. I have mad respect for him. To be an accomplished actor like him would be my dream,” he said.

If he doesn’t get his wish, he’s still happy about how life worked out.

“I’ve been all over the world — Europe, Belize. I’ve done movies and worked with the World Wrestling All-Stars and started my own successful business. I consider myself very lucky.”

Tickets for either night at Tom’s Bullpen are $15 or $25 for both nights. They can be picked up at the bar in the Hamlet Shopping Center on Walker Road in Dover or at the door the nights of the shows.

Patrons must be at least 21 years of age.

For more information on Mr. Lee and the Half Pint Brawlers, visit www.shortfuseradio.com.

Doody, played by Alex Ferree, and Frenchy, played by Lauren Mclane, perform in a dance number during a scene from the Second Street Players’ production of “Grease.” (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

‘Grease’ is the word

Second Street Players present the musical “Grease” today through Sunday and Aug 4-6. Friday and Saturday curtain is at 8 p.m. and Sunday is 3 p.m. All performances will be held at Riverfront Theater, 2 S. Walnut St., Milford.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006. Come dressed in your favorite 50’s attire and you can win prizes.

In the classic musical, Rydell High’s senior class of 1959 is made up of duck-tailed, hot-rodding “T-Birds” and their gum-snapping, hip-shaking “Pink Ladies” in bobby sox and pedal pushers, evoking the look and sound of the 1950s.

Head “greaser” Danny Zuko played by Danny Keenen and new girl Sandy Dumbrowski played by Emily Pearson try to relive the high romance of their “Summer Nights” as the rest of the gang sings and dances its way through such songs as “Greased Lightnin’,” “It’s Raining on Prom Night,” “Sandy” and others.

Music, comedy in Milton

A weekend of standup comedy and music is on tap at the Milton Theatre this weekend.

First up tonight, Corey Alexander will headline a comedy show at  with Dover’s own Keith Purnell.

Raised just outside Philadelphia, Mr. Alexander has taken his act country-wide to a multitude of clubs including Caroline’s, Comix, Gotham, Funny Bone, Catch a Rising Star, Comedy Zone, Comedy Works and more.

Tickets are $5 to $10.

Ted Vigil

On Saturday The Milton Theatre presents John Denver tribute artist Ted Vigil for two shows at 3 and 8 p.m.

Mr. Denver’s guitar accompanist Steve Weisberg accompanies Mr. Vigil to bring the compositions and hits of John Denver to audiences.

Mr. Denver recorded nearly 300 songs, 200 of which he composed, which led to 12 gold and four platinum albums.

Tickets are $20 to $30.

Tickets for both shows are available for purchase online at MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling (302) 684-3038, or at the event itself.

The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Charlize Theron action-adventure film “Atomic Blonde” and the animated “The Emoji Movie 3D.”

On DVD and download Tuesday is the comedy “Going in Style”; the Tom Hanks thriller “The Circle”; and the Anne Hathaway supernatural film “Colossal.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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