Ken Raabe

Caricature by Noah Ginex


            After graduating from Valparaiso University in 1970, Ken returned to the VU/Coventry Cathedral drama program in England as a teaching assistant. Two years later, he was in Chicago, doing Commedia-style mime shows at Otto’s Beer Garden with Jane Raabe, his wife, and John Szostek. Their mime and movement instructor from Coventry, Geoff Buckley, was in the US touring universities with mime workshops, and he joined them in the summer, presenting the classic goofball 16th-century characters outside in a beer garden on Halsted St.

            In 1973, Ken enrolled at Governors State University in Popular Culture, focusing on the study of popular entertainment forms and their changes over time. One afternoon in 1975, he got a phone call from a college friend who, because of a sudden opportunity, needed someone to take over and perform an elementary school marionette route. The decision to leave the university and take over the route led to more and more work doing shows for the Cole Marionettes in the elementary schools of northern Indiana, and his interest in old popular entertainment forms became directed more toward performance than study. 

            Eventually, he left the marionette business and became part of the Artists-In-Residence Program in the late seventies, doing puppet shows for elementary schools in Chicago throughout the school year and operating puppets for trade shows and TV commercials. 

            He again worked with Rusty Steiger,  his puppeteer friend of the fortunate phone call, helping him with his touring show,  Hutsah Puppet Company’s rod-puppet production of ‘The Hobbit,’ and traveling throughout the US with it for several years.  Later, he and Rusty became puppeteers on CBS Chicago Ch. 2’s “Beyond The Magic Door.”

            In the middle ‘80’s s, he and John Szostek put together a clown theater act called the  Lump Bros, eventually writing, producing, and performing a Cablevision TV show called “Secret Circus.” They also played bars and opened for bands in the ’80s and ’90s.

            Currently, Ken is performing novelty songs for Cabaret shows in Chicago.

Jane & Ken Raabe with Karl Raack on a field trip to Gary, Indiana