Saturday, December 22, 2007
When Iwas a kid, ventriloquism (and magic) were both very popular. Lots of kids in those days wanted to be a ventriloquist. The Christmas toy catalogues back then always had vent puppets for sale. The first two vent dolls I ever had were from Santa, who I guess got a lot of his toys from Sears and JC Penny.
Vents were on TV a lot. Jimmy Nelson, Paul Winchell, Willie Tyler, even Edgar Bergen appeared on shows like The Tonight Show.
It was a fun time.
Then, as things always do, younger kids began to find other hobbies to occupy their time as technologies in toys began to advance.
Vent began to lose it's appeal as electronic games got more and more sophisticated in the 1970's and 1980's. Remember the Atari game system? Software based games became more and more popular. Then computers, Nintendo, X-Box, Game Cube, DS, and now Wii has captured the imagination and time of todays youth.
Ventriloquism seemed to be getting weaker and weaker as an option that young people would be interested in.
Sure, there is/was still a core of vents from my era and some professional ventriloquists. There has been a convention in Kentucky almost every year for over 30 years.
But the mainstream population was not aware of the world of ventriloquism any longer.
Ventriloquism was something "Kids used to do back in the old days."
But now, I think vent has made a big comeback over the past two years.
Vent is alive and strong. Why? There are many reasons:
Jeff Dunham has really brought ventriloquism back into the public eye in a big way. His two Comedy Central specials that broke all viewing records showed the world that when used the right way as a stand-up comedy vehicle, and not just as a novelty bit, people will take notice.
Jeff's two DVD's, "Arguing with Myself" and "Spark of Insanity" have been huge, and I mean huge runaway best sellers on DVD.
Right now, several months after Jeff's "Spark of Insanity" DVD was released, it is still #1 in comedy DVD sales on amazon.com and an unbelievable #10 in ALL DVD's!
I have friends and acquaintances come up to me and ask if I've heard of this great comedian named Jeff Dunham.
I used to tell people about Jeff all of the time and people would say, "who?"
Just the other day my mailman picked up some packages I was sending out and saw my "ventriloquism101.com" return address on my packages. He asked if I'd ever heard of Jeff and when I said yes, he told me he had watched his DVD at least 10 times.
Jeff's current "Spark of Insanity" tour has been selling out large venue theaters and auditoriums months in advanced. In many cases he has added second sell-out shows in the cities so more people can attend his performances.
I saw Jeff here in Indianapolis in November and I felt like I was at a rock concert. People in the audience were reciting Jeff's entire routine in unison as he performed. I kept waiting for people to raise a lighter in the air and wave them back and forth.
David Letterman's two Ventriloquist Weeks were smash hits, as he showcased a different ventriloquist each night.
Jay Johnson (of the "Soap" TV show) had his one man ventriloquism show on Broadway,
There are lots of full time pro vents working all around the country-Dan Horn, Todd Oliver, Ken Groves, Mark Wade, Tom Ladshaw, Jerry Layne, Pete Michaels and many more. You may not recognize all of their names, but they are all making a very good living as vents.
And, of course, who would have ever imagined that a ventriloquist would win $1 million on the hit television show "America's Got Talent?" Well, that's exactly what Terry Fator did.
My Ventriloquism 101 website had it's best year ever in sales. And, the overwhelming number of my courses were purchased for young kids. That's great news.
What does all of this mean to you? It means this is the time to be a part of the ride. There has never been a better time in the last 30 years to be a part of this renewed interest in ventriloquism.
Let me warn you, though. People are once again used to seeing really good and very entertaining ventriloquists. Please don't hurt the art by performing if, quite frankly, you shouldn't be.
You should have good technique, good manipulation skills, are comfortable on stage, and most importantly be funny and entertaining.
There are all kinds of resources on my website to help you achieve those goals.
Lets keep the tide of ventriloquism rising. This is a great time to be a vent and I'm loving every minute of it.
Have a Merry Christmas everyone, and an amazing 2008 with ventriloquism.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I just received a new puppet Saturday. It's made by a fairly new company selling in the U.S. called Pavlov's Puppets.
They are made by hand in the Czech Republic by Ivan and Maria Pavlov.
The puppet I received is an Einstein character that is listed in their website catalog as "Einstain."
I call him Dr. Noah Tall. Think about it.
I have had an idea for this type of character for a long time, so I knew right away I wanted this puppet when I saw it.
The quality is excellent. The puppets from Pavlov's are all hand made. Sculpted in foam and covered with a fleece material and then hand painted.
They are very lightweight and easy to use, There is a unique "knob" inside the head above the upper mouth that your hand rests comfortably on, and an elastic strap inside on the lower mouth to slip your thumb into. This gives the performer a very solid hold on the puppet and makes the mouth a joy to work.
As many of you know, I'm 6' 9" tall and have fairly large hands. My hand fits easily and comfortably into the puppet.
They make a large variety of characters - people, birds, animals.
I'm from the old school and have generally always performed with hard figures. I'm sure I've changed my mind to a degree now and will also be using this very nice Pavlov's soft puppet in my show from now on.
These are professional puppets all the way, and priced extremely competitively for a puppet of this quality.
Visit their website at