Visit a retirement home you have to see to believe!

From Jennifer Dawson
Curator, Vent Haven Museum

Last summer Vent Haven Museum was visited by a producer for  KET’s (Kentucky Educational Television) Bluegrass and Backroads television show.  They spotlight interesting places and people  in Kentucky that make it  special.  The crew shot here for a few hours and the result is an almost 8 minute segment about the museum which  is airing this week on KET channels throughout the state.  While I know most of you aren’t able to view it on television, you are able to see the segment online if you would like.  Their site is: http://www.bluegrassandbackroads.com/
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From Mr. D:  Be certain to check out this piece.  It is excellent, informative and most enjoyable.

Tips on writing funny material

By Lee Cornell

First, I think you really have to have some sort of a sense of humor, or a "funny bone" to be funny in your comedy.

2) You can purchase some pre-written comedy vent routines and the key here is to alter the routines to fit your personality and THE CHARACTER of the puppet.

3) There are also lots of comedy writers out there who you can hire to write custom routines for you. Be careful, though. Since these writers won't know you, your act, your personality, or the character of the puppets you are using, they may not write something that fits you and you'll end up with a routine that may be funny if the person who wrote it performed it, but not work for you.

4) If you are writing your own comedy and/or blending your own writings with jokes from other sources (joke books, the Internet, whatever) you want to have a "theme" in mind for the routine. There has to be a common thread to the various parts of the routine. And find a re-occurring call back hook/comment/bit you can return to from time to time during the act.
5) Use only material that sounds funny to you.

5) Good jokes have a set up and a "punch." The trick is to take the audience down a certain path with the set up (where they think they know where you are going with the joke) and then POW! go a different direction and catch them off guard with the punch.

7) Try to write from personal experiences.  People love personal experience comedy. It easy for an audience to laugh at things that probably may even have happened to them or someone they know.

8) Look at news stories and find topical subjects that you can put the setup/punch spin on.

Writing GOOD comedy is not easy. Anyone can string a bunch of corny jokes together and write a lame routine. Really push yourself to be unique in your comedy and work hard on crafting a truly funny routine.
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These excerpts were taken from Lee's blog post answers to the question, "How do I write funny material?" You can read his entire post here:  http://ventips.blogspot.com/


Jerry Keychains

From Tom Ladshaw

Saw your blog this morning featuring Fred Anderson's post.  I'm attaching a photo of some of my Jerry keychains along with some variants.
        The authorized Jerry keychains were produced in several different versions..."plain" - with red flocked hair - with brownish flocked hair.  For years I assumed that the ones with the brown flocked hair had simply darkened with time.  Several years ago, I found a wholesale toy catalog with the Jerry keychains listed. I don't have it right at hand or would send a copy of the page.  The keychains were sold two different ways. You could order them in "loose bulk" (for insertion in gum machine capsules, etc.) or carded.  The flocked head keychains were only available carded.  The carded keychains were sold in "assortments"....plain, brown hair, red hair.
        Gressett Novelty Company manufactured the Jerry heads.  On the back of the neck, the keychain has: Paul Winchell's Jerry Mahoney.
        Clearly the Archie Andrews keychains are from a nearly identical mold.  I suspect they were fully authorized by Winchell.... Peter Brough was too upstanding of a businessman to allow someone to pirate toys in his name.  The back of the Archie keychain has: "Archie" Palitoy - Made in England. Palitoy was a major British toy manufacturer of the time and, in fact, was one of the very first British companies post-war that went into manufacturing goods from plastic.
        In the photo are several different versions of the keychains from my collection. Interestingly enough, some of the Jerry cards don't have the "How to Be a Ventriloquist" instructions on the back, though most do.  The Archie card has instructions on the reverse.
        Notice the odd version with the hat.  That one was made in Mexico and the spring to operate it is on the outside of the head!  The "dark" version needs a good polish...it's actually cast from Sterling Silver and was one of an extremely limited number (only 12, I think)!  It works exactly like its plastic counterpart, though with the price of silver today, it's worth far more!

Mini-Figure Question:

From Fred Anderson:

In 1950 as a boy growing up in Troon, Scotland, I purchased a dummy key chain head with moving eyes and mouth. At the time it was being promoted as an Archie Andrews replica (dummy of Peter Brough in England.).  It was made by 'Palitoy' in England.

Jump ahead some years and across the Atlantic. This same head is shown in the Paul Winchell tribute on Youtube, (part 2 @ 14:25), and was being promoted as a Jerry Mahoney key chain.

Was it originally an Archie, or was it a Jerry ? Or was it just a cute
little dummy head with moving parts that could become any character the
purchaser decided? For example, if it had a top hat and monocle, could it not be a Charlie ?

Any comments?


Performance and Instruction

90 minute VHS by the master, Col. Bill Boley. 

Part 1 - Enjoy six fun-filled performances.  Bill's vent figures seen include Freddy, Aunt Fanny, Willie, Jose the Crow, Timex the dog, and two humans.

Part 2 - Detailed lessons.  How to be a ventriloquist.  Novelty vent puppets.  How your puppet sings as you drink.  How to combine ventriloquism and magic.  How to Create a Distant Voice.

I have one copy, for auction now:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260967593888


I have a very small collection of 5 misc. rare issues of the Grapevine News for sale.  This quality newsletter of the day (1940s) was the official publication of the IBV (International Brotherhood of Ventriloquists).  I've listed the specific issues with their photo on my eBay listing.  As a result of a renaming contest, the publication was issued as "Grapevine News" for only a short period.  It is better remembered by the name that followed,"The Oracle".    More details here:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260966802288

Here are a couple interesting photos from the pages of 1948 Grapevine News:
Spain's professional ventriloquist,
Senior Eugenio Balder (Balderrain) "dancing" with
the very true to life, Dona Canerias

Group photo taken at Bournemouth (UK) during the 1948 I.B.M.
Convention.  Unfortunately, no names were attached to the photo.



When a murder is committed, Edgar Bergen, with questionable "help" from Charlie, manages to solve the case in an entertaining manner! Mortimer adds his unique wisdom, too.   70 minutes, B/W.    (Movie released 1939 - I do not have the date this video was produced).  VHS Video For sale:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290676554009

Blind ventriloquist retires

Blind Japanese ventriloquist Masami Sasaki, 70, recently gave the last performance of his career here, after 23 years of entertaining and encouraging many young children, elderly people and more recently survivors of the March 11 disaster.

Sasaki created tragicomic original pieces meant to convey affection to children, give courage to the handicapped and encourage elderly people to live. He soon became popular and accepted many offers to perform at day care centers and elderly care facilities nationwide.

"Through performing ventriloquism, I met many people. I was very encouraged by them and learned the importance of living strongly from them," said Sasaki in tears. "I was full of anguish when I lost my eyesight but I overcame the feeling, so I hope disaster survivors have learned something from me."

Read the full story:  http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Showbiz/Story/A1Story20120225-330078.html


Change of plans

I know I wrote earlier that I would be listing the eight vintage Vol. 2 (1938-39) DOUBLE TALK ventriloquist newsletters for sale individually.   I'm thinking now it may have been wiser to have offered them for sale as a set since I have the complete set in hand.  But - it's too late to retract the three already listed for eBay auctions - I never do that once bids have been made.
So I'm going to hold off listing any of the remaining five issues (pictured below).   I'm going to wait to see if the same individual places winning the bids on all three of the Vol. 2 DOUBLETALK issues currently listed, and if so,  I'll send that person the other five issues no charge, so the set of 8 remains complete.

Ventriloquists pictured on the covers, clockwise, beginning with the upper left
The Great Jaxon, Paul Stadelman, Dorothy Jenkins,
Jeanne Windsor, and Ralph De Shong.


"Who goes there?"

A few days ago I read this post on the Worldvent list:

"We are looking for Ventriloquist Dummies,damaged dolls, Parts of any kinds (heads, arms, legs, etc.) and, and Scary, creepy, anything. Any age, any condition. We are a non profit 501c3 month long event, Idyllwild's Haunted Ghost Town, raising funds for Educational Programs, and Ida Wild (one of our best scenes) has a room full of these. Do you have anything, or know where we can find them? We are extremely low budget.   Idyllwild's Haunted Ghost Town, Idyllwild (CA) PTA."

Sounds a bit like a description of my shop if visited in the twilight!  (Photo taken 2/20/12)


Jack Coats figure for sale

 Hopefully this won't offend my figuremaker friends, but I've always said if I had to pick a personal favorite figure maker, it would be Jack Coats. 

Jack was one of the first figuremakers I met in person and we talked frequently by phone over a period of several years up until his untimely passing in 1973.  In talking with Mark Wade earlier this week, Mark mentioned he was going to sell his Jack Coats figure, so I asked him to send me these pictures to post, giving blog readers an advance heads up, should there be a reader looking to purchase one of the rare Jack Coats carved figures.

This figure was made in 1972.  Mark used this figure called "Rudy" in the late 70's /early 80's, and also used him in the DVD "Successful Ventriloquism" for Maher Studios.  He was called "Jack" (after
his creator) in the film.  He has the original paint job on both head and
hands and has moving eyes and a hand shaker. 

For more information, contact Mark directly: markwade@kidshowvent.com


"Simplified Method" of writing dialogues?

The ventriloquist pictured on the cover of this issue of DOUBLE TALK is George W. Tizzard of Brooklyn NY.  According to the writer, Mr. Tizzard was "a monologist and a funny story teller for thirty years, who...after meeting W. S. Berger and receiving pointers on ventriloquism...is now doing very well with his offerings in and around Brooklyn."

And then the writer, who I assume was Revello Petee, continued, "After witnessing many ventriloquial acts and noting the lip movement of the ventriloquist when the figure was supposed to be talking, Mr. Tizzard started experimenting with dialogues to remove the cause of lip movement, and his 'Simplified Method' of writing dialogues was the outcome.  This 'Simplified Method' is the omission of all Bs Ps and Ms, thereby removing all cause of lip movement."

I did see an ad for 16 of Tizzard's Dialogues, written using his 'Simplified Method', in the following issue of Double Talk.  (I wish I could read a few of them).  Quite a different method than that used by today's better ventriloquists who purposely add words containing labials to raise the degree of difficulty in their dialogues!

I should mention this issue of DOUBLELAK (listed on eBay now) contains one of the most popular of routines written by Tommy Windsor: The Shutter Salesman.


Purple perfect...

From William "Bill" Warren

I have a beautiful Purple looking puppet (see pic)that I picked up from a lady that couldn't find a voice or a character for....I'm going to use him in a really funny but point making Puppet Ministry skit that I'm putting together.   It's a message about communicating with our Creator.

Shop Talk

#267 - 34"

#266 - 38"

Figures recently completed, now in stock and for sale:

Click Here.


Hoosier Sweetness

 From Bob Abdou, Mr. Puppet

Moving to a different state may have it's pitfalls but when a special gig comes a knock'n because of my new location, it's sweet!!  Such is the case with The Heartland Singers in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  Both shows were a success and they hired me again for 2013 before I left the building!!

After that great concert gig in Ft Wayne I had a senior show in
Lebanon, Indiana, just NW of indianapolis.   Met up with vents David Pendleton and
Fred Church to cap off a great trip.

Mark Wade Writes

I am an avid reader, a purveyor of book stores, a person who is always looking for the latest book on marketing, performing, jokes, whatever.  I have found that often what I am reading at the time makes good copy for my blog articles, and that's the stuff this one is made from.

I know one of the areas we, as entertainers, overlook is stagecraft.  I recently found a book on the subject written by a guy that was a personal stagecraft trainer.  He worked with people to make them more comfortable on stage, and in giving presentations.  The tips were great and I want to share a few with you.

•  Eye contact with your audience:  it is more than occasionally looking out at the crowd to make sure they are still with you.  This fellow recommends that instead of scanning the audience you give them eyeball to eyeball contact and establish a one-to-one intimacy.  Don't sweep the audience look a bit to the right, a bit to the center, and a bit to the left..but always with eye contact to the audience.

Be Conversational with your audience:  you want your audience to feel as if you are standing in their living room having a conversation with them.  As the author points out, "be human".

Develop "Stage Energy":  Learn how to psych yourself up before you go on stage to entertain or speak.  Be mentally alert and prepared and tell yourself good, confident things.  Let the electricity flow through your body.

This book called "The How To Of Great Speaking" by Hal Persons is one of the best books I have found.  I think it may be out of print..I found my copy in a second hand book store, but you might want to check on line.

Don't overlook the importance of EVERY aspect of performing if you are going to be your personal best!

You can contact me at: markwade@kidshowvent.com


Vol 2 No. 2, Arthur L. Dauer, Cover

The ventriloquist featured on the cover of this 1938 DOUBLE TALK newsletter, Arthur Dauer, was employed in law enforcement, performing ventriloquism as a profitable side line.  His home was Bradford PA at the time oif this publicaton. 

Here's a tip for remembering your lines from Freddie Lambert's article on page 12:  "For some of you voice tossers who forget your lines.  Get a two inch (wide) piece of adhesive tape, cut (a piece) about three to four inches long.  Write your ques on it and stick it on the palm of the left hand.  It is not seen and is much better than having a small card or slip of paper on the back of the dummy."

I listed the titles of all articles contained in this issue on the eBay listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260962176987

Anniversary Issue

This first anniversary issue of DOUBLE TALK ventriloquist newsletter (Oct or Nov 1938) contained some interesting comments by George McAthy:

"Well, I guess now even the skeptics will agree that DOUBLE TALK is here to stay...the last two to three issues of D.T. have been late, but through no fault of Revello's (Petee).  Due to warehouse strikes, he was unable to get paper and stencils for the Mimeograph machine.  He had to beg borrow and darn near steal to get out the Oct. issue.  He even traveled many miles to other towns to rustle up supplies.  Not many people would have gone to all that trouble, but Revello wasn't going to miss an issue at any cost.  If we want D.T. to build into the best little magazine going we will ALL have to do our part.  If we don't look after the art of Ventriloquism, nobody else will."

It's never been easy to keep a specialty newsletter in print for any length of time.  Revello Petee tried, but little did McAthy know when he wrote the above words for that first anniversary issue that the second year would be the final year of DOUBLE TALK  publication.  I will be listing most of those final year two issues for sale on eBay over the next week or so, beginning with this one.  Vol. 2 No. 1 1938.



Dr. Greg Pierce
I'm long overdue in saying thanks to you.  About 1982 or so I was traveling to Montana to preach a revival.  I was laid over in Denver for a day so my wife and I rented a car and drove to Maher Studio.  I think it was you who took time to walk us through your shop.  I took in as much as I could and when I returned to my church in Georgia I began experimenting with making composition figures (plastic wood).
I later became a missionary in Alaska and had a vent figure shop in my garage and made a dozen or so figures.  After 7 years I left Alaska and had to give my "children" away.  Now I've started making figures again using cast heads.  These make heirloom birthday presents for my grandchildren now...better than computer games.
Since Alaska I've been serving as a Southern Baptist director of missions, so far in three states, Virginia, Georgia and presently Arkansas...and still playing with dolls.
Thanks again, this unusual hobby all started with you taking time for me well over 20 years ago.
PS;  I still have my old expired NAAV certificate displayed on my office wall along with 3 Doctorates.  It makes interesting conversation.
Dr. Greg Pierce
Director of Missions
SE Arkansas


Requesting your vote

From Tom Crowl
I'm hoping you will help me out!  I have entered a video contest with 15 professional performers.  On March 30, the video with the most views on Youtube "wins" bragging rights.  Its the competitive nature in me that wants to get this out there.
and runs all of 32 seconds - it features Dangerous Duck doing a cooking segment. 
If you get a chance and want to watch, I'd appreciate it!    
Tom Crowl


Movie: Magic

The movie, Magic, starring Anthony Hopkins  as a twisted, love-struck ventriloquist, certainly did the art of ventriloquism very few favors.  In fact, shortly after it was released in 1978 we even had a couple customers call Maher Ventriloquist Studios to cancel their orders for vent figures!  But the work is another piece of the screen-world history with ventriloquist connections.  With that in mind, I've listed this one VHS copy (106 minutes, rated R) for sale on eBay auction:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290672298198

Another new Vent

From Tom Rogers

I thought you might enjoy seeing the happy face in the attached photo.  The young man is Dalton Davidson, the grandson of a long-time friend.  Recently, she told me he was interested in ventriloquism and wanted a dummy.  I decided to help.  I found an old, well-used Mortimer Snerd vent doll that was ready for the scrap heap.  I refurbished it, did a conversion on it, dressed it in new clothes (from Goodwill Charities) and surprised Dalton with it.  He was crazy about it.  I seriously think we have a new vent in our community! I am going to suggest to his parents that they get him enrolled in the Maher Course as soon as they can.

Tom Rogers
Maher Graduate

No Bully Information

From Bob Abdou
I wanted to share my "No Bully Zone" video with you.   This is the edited version schools view when deciding on an assembly program that has vital information for the students.

It took me 6 months of deep research from school guildelines, talking to counselors and other sites to come up with my "No Bully Zone" show.  This is not a silly birthday party show that just throws in "don't be a bully" or "Be Kind" advice that most entertainers do when jumping from birthday party shows to school shows. Today's schools want updated vital information that students will remember for years to come, not just fluff sayings that are just said with no real foundation.
Today's schools are not the same as years past. Performing at schools today want a back ground check. They require pages of information filled out by entertainers just to be considered for a school program. Today's schools want real value for their budget dollar. The days of just walking into a school and getting hired are long gone.
For anyone that wants to succeed, we have to be up with the times and do what is required of us to market school shows.
Take it from me, someone that has moved to 3 major cities and started all over again 3 different times, if there is anyone that knows how to adapt, it's ME!!  What worked in Atlanta, didn't work in Philly, what eventually worked in Philly did not work in Texas, what finally worked in Texas is not what Ohio is looking for. My "No Bully Zone" show is just what Ohio is looking for and I'm ready.


Another Rare Double Talk

Vintage DOUBLE TALK ventriloquist newsletter.  June 1938.  Vol. 1 No. 8.  Fourteen age-yellowed 8.5 x 11 mimeographed pages.  Cover has slight tear and a few pencil markings, but otherwise this rare historical piece is in remarkably good condition in spite of its nearly 73 years. 

Contents:  The Fundamentals of the Ventriloquial Voice by John Ellwood and Ada Ripel; Honesty Is The Best Policy (adult vent dialogue by Leon); This N That (vent news and gossip of the day by Richard Haldene); A full page news/ad by Humme announcing the addition of a 42" girl figure, Jeanne, to his act;  Vich Vay Did He Vent?, a humours article by Baffles on his early efforts at venting; Nite Spot Ventriloquism by Leon; A biography introduction to 13 year old "Chucky" Koontz, the "World's Biggest Little Magician, Humorist, Ventriloquist" (including an actual copy of his advertising flyer with photo, an insert to this newsletter); An untitled article by Judge Frank Carter which turns out to be a mild tirade over Bergen's skills (or lack thereof); Dummy Talk (more than two full pages of brief shorts with news of the day's vents) by Oscar.  This is a rare piece - so much history.  Fascinating.  On eBay auction now:   http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290672013861

One of Haldene's comments that caught my eye: "Johnson Smith of Detroit are now selling a 10" vent figure and a book on vent for $1.45.  Well, we may as well give the kids a break.  I'll bet many of us wish we could have obtained a figure that cheap when the bug first bit us."  I wonder what Haldene would think if he could see the price of starter figures today, Goldberger dolls (without a vent book!) that cost more than the price of a wood carved professional figure of his day!

Book with puppet

I once contacted the publishers of the "Klutz" books to see if they would consider publishing a "Klutz book of Ventriloquism."  With their strong marketing program and their proven track record of quality hands-on books, each coming with the items needed to perform the skills taught, I thought they would be a perfect match for the ventriloquist art.  I learned they were way ahead of me, having already considered ventriloquism.  But they made the decision not to move ahead because of the book by Dan Richard (shown here).  They felt since an instruction book with puppet included was already on the market, they would not produce a similar product. 

Ventriloquism For the Total Dummy is an excellent book (by Villard Books, 1987), but it's distribution numbers were limited.  This is a like new copy.  As nearly as I can tell, the puppet bag has never been opened.  In my opinion, this book by professional ventriloquist, Dan Ritchard , is one of the better books on the subject.  It covers so much more than just how to talk without moving your lips.  (It even has plans for building a vent figure.)  On stage tips touch on subjects as wide in variety as what to wear to handling hecklers.  Chapter 8 deals with novelty bits, including muffled speech, the drinking bit, the telephone voice, and distant voice.  Most helpful and fascinating information fill all the 90 pages.
For sale here:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290671215926


Humoring Your Dummy

TWELVE EASY WAYS TO BE A FUNNY VENTRILOQUIST!   Laugh as you learn!  Each principle taught is demonstrated by funny video clips of talented ventriloquists exemplifying their comical genius.  (Mark Wade, Mark Thompson, Gene Cordova, and Jim Adams, along with your host, comedy ventriloquist/magician, Steve Taylor.)  Steve says you can "train your dummy to be funny" if you watch this 60 minute video.  But I think Rudy O'Riley was delivered to Steve with some comical roots...(I may be a bit subjective since I am very close to his builder.)

This VHS video is now listed for auction:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290670877753


"Wood'n you be mine?"

Happy Valentine's Day


Cody Young

From Gary Ray Howell
The puppet is great.  I have named him Cody Young.  Cody, I thought is a good sounding western type name.  Cody told me that he likes to ride horses and sing old western songs.  He is not the best of singer of course, but good enough for a young cowboy who loves to ride horses and perform in front of children and their families. The State of Oklahoma is a great place for him to live and to perform.


Any flexagons left for sale?

Question:  My dad (Candu the magician) gave me a flexagon to play with that came from your store.  I have no idea how long it might have been in my Dad’s closet of magic tricks.  To make a long story short, the only one that I had (flexagon, that is) got trashed.  Are you still selling these?  If so I would dearly like to get a couple more of them from you.  Regards, Bill Oldham
*  *  *  *  *

From Mr. D:  Adelia's brother, Jay Yoder (photo right), made the Flexigons we sold through Maher Studios during the '70s and '80s.  But when his health declined, Jay had to give up his shop crafts, and that was the end of Flexigon production.  Now, having said that, I do think I still have several new and unused Flexigons.  They would be the Magician and/or Ventriloquist versions where the images change as the Flexigon is folded and unfolded.  Jay made a Flexigon that was color changing, but I no longer have any of that style.  $40 each, postpaid.  

The copy below is from a vintage Redoy Catalog the descriptions of the flexigons and their workings: 


Wood Carved figure by Detweiler?

I have never carved a figure from WOOD, but I have carved more than a few from FAUX wood.  This figure now listed on eBay is one of them.  The actual material used for making both head and hands was Dap brand wood filler mixed with powdered sawdust.  Once cured it works like wood in pretty much every way without being an actual plank cut from a tree. 


Hear this!

From Dale Brown

I've been busy with shows lately and had one of those unexpected moments when one of my dog puppet’s ears fell off during his routine.  I was performing for a group of 250 retail store employees. I was looking away when the ear fell off, but I heard the people in the audience gasp … proving that the dog was real to them (Ha!).

Anyway, I ad libbed my way through it with 4 or 5 lines. Each line got a bigger laugh than the previous one. I ended with, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.” The dog replied, “Well whatever you say, you’re going to have to say it louder.” The laugh was so big that I knew I wouldn’t be able to top it … so I just picked up the ear, put it in the case and said I’d fix it later. We went on.

Leslie was there and after the show she asked me if I was going to keep the ear bit in. I wrote everything down that I could remember saying and now the ear is reattached with Velcro so I can gently tug on it and have it fall to the floor. As I say in my ad libbing lectures … the best ad libs are not ad libs at all.


Student debut

From George Boosey

     My brother Fred Boosey is a drama teacher at an arts magnet high school in Little Rock and has been honored as teacher of the year and even won some international honors of his drama teaching.  For years, he has had a mime troupe, which has performed not only all over Arkansas but around the country.
    In recent years, he has expanded his student troupe to include unicycle riders and ball walkers and other variety arts so it seemed to me that it was a natural to move next into ventriloquism.  I gave him a Clinton Detweiler figure, which I had purchased from Dan Willinger to be a backup to my main cheeky boy character, Oscar.  Oscar, as both of you know, is a Marshall figure originally carved for our friend, Peter Rich.
     I also gave Fred the Maher Course booklets from the 1980s and a few other books on ventriloquism and script writing and he found a student who was interested in the art and who will make his debut in the high school production of Annie, playing a ventriloquist on the radio. 
Introducing Jamison Grandy, a new young ventriloquist
and student at Little Rock’s Parkview High School.


Las Vegas Guide April 2003

This issue of the Las Vegas Guide (192 pages - photo below), featured Bergen, Charlie, and Mortimer on the cover.  The timing was a result of the then upcoming 2003 Vegas Ventriloquist Festival which had two themes: Celebrating the Wonderful World of Edgar Bergen, and the Sunday wedding of Vegas Chairman, Valentine Vox and Eyvonne Carter.   According to the report in this magazine, all members of the wedding party as well as members of the audience, were accompanied by their dummies.  I also spotted an ad for the Ronn Lucas Show in this issue.  Bonus included: An oversize postcard (right) announcing the Vent Festival held at the Imperiel Palace (April 25-27, 2003) with the schedule of events.  eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290666648504


Forget your lines?

By Kolby King

Situation:  You're on stage ... in the middle of your script and suddenly ... you go blank.  You forget your line.  What do you do?  What can you do?

Solution:  Don't panic.  Your natural desire will be to freeze.  Don't go silent.  Don't say, "Oh no!  I forgot my line."  That's honest, but it's not very professional.  Don't say, "Ahhhh...I knew I should have practiced more."  Or, "Whoops, I forgot where I was."

Sometimes when you forget a line you can just skip over it or pass on to the next joke without sacrificing the theme or the quality of the script.  If so, then continue forward.  Remember, the audience doesn't know your script, and they don't know when you've forgotten a line, so the best solution is to keep it going without missing a beat.

But if you can't, then turn to an alternative.  Ad-lib.  To ad-lib means to keep talking, making the dialogue up as you go.  The audience will never know that you made a mistake, and, as you talk, you allow yourself time to remember your line and return to your original dialogue.

Another option is to have your figure interrupt you and say:
F: Hey, let's sing a song.
V: But we were talking.
F: Yeah, but I want to sing.  Please?  Please?
V: Well, okay, but let's make it quick.

(Following a short song) you can bring the conversation back to the original dialogue without anyone knowing you departed from it.

Most of all, if you forget your lines, keep talking: if silence falls, the audience will really know you made a mistake.  And don't let you figure go limp: keep him moving and don't let him die.  After all, it's not his fault.

Of course, rather than covering a mistake, the best method is avoiding making them.  It's the first and last rule of ventriloquism: practice, practice, practice.
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Condensed from chapter 16, Ventriloquism Made Easy, copyright 1997, Dover Publications.

For Sale

VENTRILOQUISM MADE EASY; Kolby King. 92 pgs. 1997, Dover Publications.  Some of the chapters: Ventriloquism: The Basics; The Secret: From A to Z; Speaking Without Lip Movement; Ventriloquist Dialogues; Line Delivery; Special Effects; Memorizing the Script; Props; The Audience; Publicity; Scheduling Shows; Record Keeping.  This is an unread copy, mint condition.  eBay:  http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290666629786

PS: The smiling vent figure on the cover of this book is a "Whiffle" (catalog name) Knee Pal character by Lovik, sold by Maher Studios.


Vintage newsletter For Sale:

Here's another rare vintage issue of DOUBLE TALK  - The Ventriloquists' Guide newsletter for sale.  May 1938, Vol. 1 No. 7.  Original (not a copy).  14 pages (printed one side).  Someone made a note in small pencil print on cover "Good material" - I agree!  Published by figure maker, Revello Petee.  Some of the articles and features included in this issue:

This-N-That by Richard Haldane.  Several comments made me smile including this one: "Very busy during Easter season.  Oscar, my stooge, blew himself to a new Easter suit.  He looks very spify.  He told me it would be his after two more payments.  The other night he forgot his lines.  He must be getting absent minded - did that ever happen to you?"

Fresh Kid Dialogue by McAthy and Petee.  Full two page comedy dialogue.

A Chat With Ellwood and Ripel (about venues).  "The Vent must be ready at all times to anticipate the entertainment desires of each of his audiences and it is only one who has studied the art in all its branches who can at all times be prepared for any eventuality.  So don't let the boys and girls of ventriloquism fall for the Charlie McCarthy type of vent production to the exclusion of all other types as they will find use for all of them..."

Showmanship Pt. 2 by Revello. 

Keep Your Material Up To Date by Caryl S. Fleming.  "I really believe that a lesser accomplished vent with top notch material can easily walk away from the man who has sacrificed material for technique."

Mouth-Moving Mouthings by "Chucky" Koontz.  "The audience likes to think of your 'splinter' as human, but they also like you to refer to something to show that you know they are not fooled.  (Example: Figure to vent: 'If you want me to open my mouth wider, you need to pull the string a little harder.')  Also, if you ad lib a bit, it helps to make your act more entertaining. "

DUMMY TALK, a humorous comments by a vent figure on some of the vent happenings and gossip of the day.  Example: "'Sue Watt', who is more or less dependent on Dorothy Jenkins for any voice in the matter, wants to know why we don't form a ladies auxiliary for the girl members of the B.V.D.  Sue's brother, 'Gus', says, in his opinion, it is a screwy idea.  'A woman's place is in the suitcase.'"

May 1938
Vol.1 No. 7
The Ventriloquists' Guide

You may own and read for yourself the complete writings in this vintage issue of Double Talk by bidding here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290666325657 


"Happy New Year "

Split Personality?

From Dan Peters: 

Clinton:  We come home on furlough (from Hungary) in July. We will be home for ten months.  I will be reporting back to our church in Attica (KS), Faith Baptist Church which is right next to the hospital.   I have driven by your old farm many times thru the years and even landed in Harper in 1982 when I flew one of our church's airplanes. It sure beat driving all those miles, and I sure got home to Tulsa a lot faster.  

I can't bring the complete Wally home because of baggage restrictions.  I will bring his head and order a new body from you.   And then the extra body will be left in the States when we go back.  Does that mean that Wally has a split personality?
*  *  *  *  *
From Mr. D: Better Wally than you or me! 
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From Bill Matthews:  That is an EXCELLENT idea. Never thought of that. How much IS another body for a figure (though I could probably use one myself:-).
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From Mr. D: It depends on the figure, size, etc., but cost of a body alone will average $175 or so.  (Vent figures only - all else is beyond me.  :-)


Snow Day

Mr. D,   I hope you and yours, and all the Mannequin Americans, are safe with all this snow you've been getting!   Here in Cincinnati, Ohio it's just been rain, rain, rain.  Tom Farrell  (right)
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From Mr. D:  Well over two feet of the fluffy white covered our neighborhood (and surrounding) the last 36 hours.  Three times during the snowfall and following the neighbor boy shoveled our drive and walks.  Four times I shoveled my way from our back door to my shop door  (above). I need to teach those dummies to do more than hang around waiting for me!
Stephen And Other Dummies just wrapped up taping another National TV spot on The
General Jackson Showboat in Nashville.....will air in April on
RFD-TV........blessings...A Time to Laugh Mang and Stephen Prod