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Answer: That's a difficult question because it would not be possible to replace the figure you have with an exact duplicate at any price. That figure is no longer being made. A similar size figure with same animations would cost $1,000 or more I'd estimate. But it would be a different character built by a different figure maker. In nearly 40 years of shipping literally thousands of figures, I've only had one lost in transit, so the risk of loss is low. However, insuring a parcel (for even a low amount), or adding "Delivery Confirmation" does add an element security and handling care, I believe. Use a sturdy carton, plenty of bubble wrap (or other cushioning material), seal all edges and flaps well, and make certain the address on the package or label is clearly legible, with label secured and protected with clear sealing tape. It is more likely a parcel will be damaged or lost as a result of poor packaging/labeling than improper handling.
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Answer: "Randy" was built by Craig Lovik in his California workshop. It was the most popular character from the early line of "Storyteller" characters featuring the "living mouth". I don't know the actual amount built, but they would be numbered in the dozens if not hundreds. Many of these were sold through other retailers (Disneyland, and numerous Magic stores) in addition to Maher Studios. In 1973 two new Storyteller figures (Billy and Brian - see photos below)
V: Do birds ever wear tennis shoes?
F: Yes, but they're pigeon toed.
Bird Words From The Word is always available from the Maher Bookstore and is also available now through one of my eBay auctions ending tomorrow (Monday) morning. Click here to see them all.
Adelia has always wanted a Harley. Santa brought her one for Christmas last year.
I've been waiting to sneak this picture in ... all that snow yesterday sorta put me in the Winter holiday spirit for a moment, I guess.
This animated musical Santa on his red bike has now taken up permanent residence at the end of our kitchen counter where before breakfast most mornings his recorded voice will be heard throughout our house singing a song with words that include:
"....need to get out on the highway -
gonna do things my way,
Born to be wild..."
When I hear him singing I know Santa and Adelia are telling me two things. 1) Adelia is ready to go down to the local coffee shop for our usual morning coffee and breakfast visit with the other regulars that gather there, but first, 2) It's time for me to drop whatever I'm doing at the moment and go help make the bed. (Yep - that's us - "Born to be wild!" :-)
"My buzzard puppet has been the most popular in my troupe for more than a dozen years. Though a lot of it is "attitude", I'd be lost without much of the material here. I've collected these lines from many sources - some are actually original! - and put them together in routines that have worked well for me. Feel free to pick, choose, and compile your own combinations." Steve Engle 09/2000
Feather Features is always available from the Maher Bookstore and is also available as one of my current eBay auctions (ending Monday). Click here to see them all.
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Comment from Clinton: That's true when the same person who made the head made the hands. However, it is very common for hands to be changed on a vent figure. Some figure makers even purchase hands from another figure maker. Col. Bill Boley and I had a running joke going between ourselves for years, each trying to get the other to make our needed hands. Making a head is enjoyable. But a pair of hands can take as much time as making the head and can become tedious. Who looks at the figure's hands closely anyway (other than Ron)?
These are photos of a vintage Madeline Maher body upon which I recently replaced the hands. The new hands were made by Braylu; painted by myself.
Not only is the ventriloquist community "graying" (my opinion), but those ventriloquists who do exist under the age of 40 are more likely to be found on Internet inter-active sites such as Facebook. Blogs such as this are also passe' in the minds of some. However, in spite of the many other ways you could be spending your valuable time today, YOU took the time to visit me on this blog. Not only does that prove you are smarter than the average vent :), but your visit also is a great encouragement to me...Thank you!
"The work on the nose is amazing.....you matched everything *perfectly*. I can't see where she was damaged at all. 1001 Thanks...." Tom Ladshaw
"Great! Kevin put in a winker and blinkers. He also made the mouth open wider and replaced all of my pathetic attempts at mechanics. It was a wonderful job and I thank you for recommending him to me.
John Wayne Peel
After being employed in the printing business for 10 years, I had the opportunity to open up my own shop in 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia. With my skills and salesmanship I was able to succeed and within a few years I had 15 employees, 10 printing presses and did over 2 million dollars in sales. To maintain my business I never stopped working, when my employees went home I would run the presses at night to make more money. My company became more successful but I was not really happy.
I needed a hobby fast or I was on the brink of a heart attack. So in 1991 I got in contact with a company called "Maher Studios". I received a catalog in the mail and I was able to order a ventriloquist dummy that had the features of me when I was young. Money was no object, I had lots of money because of my company, but to maintain this lavish lifestyle I had to continue working around the clock. I had to slow my life down and start enjoying the fruits of my labor and I thought having a "puppet" would be a fun thing to have.
I will never forget the day when a package from Maher Studios arrived. I opened it up and I could swear that I heard angels singing and a light beamed out of this box. It was like a miracle was being deliverd to my doorstep and my life was about to change forever. My very first ventriloquist dummy arrives and his name shall be "Woodie".
I remember taking Woodie on my sales calls to meet my clients and they loved him and they just gave me more work, the more I used the dummy the more work I would get for my business. But wait...that wasn't the point. I did not want more work, I wanted to take a break from that work and finally play, laugh and enjoy life. Having Woodie with me worked against me so I knew I had to find another venue to use him and I did.
I volunteered at the Center for Puppetry Arts on the weekend to be the house greeter. I had NO experience and this gave me the chance to see what kind of ventriloquist I could be. It worked, they loved me just as much as I loved working there. I volunteered for 3 years trying never to miss a weekend and polish my new found hobby "Ventriloquism".
One weekend I could not make it at the Center and a young boy asked about me saying "where is Mr.Puppet". When the front office told me this story, I realized that I had a positive impact on children so Mr.Puppet was born. Now life was good......until...... I received a letter from the IRS saying I owe 2 years of back taxes. My company was not paying their suppliers and money was being lost somewhere. To make a long story even longer it was my wife (now ex) that was embezzeling money and this contributed to the downfall of my business. The IRS closed down my business and all I had worked hard for was gone. I still did vent on the side but it could never equal in pay what I made in my company. Once my business was shut down, I went to work for a (so-called) friend who also owned a print shop. I went to work for him and brought all my clients with me, Ok, now I will make this story short. Within 2 months he had all my clients and he fired me and told me to GET OUT. Within a year I now have nothing, I lost my business, friends, clients, lifestyle, marriage, hair - but I still had vent.
When I got fired I got a call from a vent from Chicago named Chuck Field. I was crying on the phone to him about my problems and that I was about to be homeless. He told me not to worry, this was the best opportunity to become a full time vent because I had nothing to lose - I lost everything. He was right! That phone call from Chuck in 1996 was life changing for me. Looking at things now, I have a wonderful new marriage, great caring friends like Chuck, a successful business as Mr.Puppet and I look even better without my toupee (so I'm told). Being associated now with ventriloquism since 1991 has put me on this incredible path that I will always feel grateful for, this was what I was born to do.
Thanks, Clinton for being the one to start me on this wonderful life!
Newsy Vents 01/2009
By Ken Groves
Ventriloquism as a show stands on its own when performed correctly. When vent is done poorly, you’ll need something else to prop it up: magic, balloons, fireworks, or WMD. There’s nothing worse than a ventriloquist act where the "mystery" of vent is missing. What am I talking about? Consider a magician. What makes magic work? Everybody knows it is a trick; everybody knows it is not real. So why is the art of magic growing and expanding? It’s the "mystery" that is the foundation of magic that keeps people coming back for more.
VENT IS NO DIFFERENT. We must put "mystery" back into our shows. "How do they do that?" "How do they get the puppet to move like that?" "It looks so REAL!" "How do they get the puppet’s voice so loud and clear?" "It’s just like two people having a conversation!" "Your lips never move! Not once!" "That is amazing!" "When are you performing again?" THAT last question is the question you want to hear: "When are you performing again?" When vent is done correctly, the audience wants more. If you feel the need to ADD something to your vent show, maybe you should get back to the basics of vent and put the "MYSTERY" back into your performance.
Newsy Vents 10/2005
Make it a habit to always have your puppet animated the first instant he/she is seen by the audience...whether it's a fast entrance from "the wings," or merely being lifted from a case. If it's animal or bird, research some actions common to that species. For instance, I often bring out my buzzard with his beak pointed up and shaking his head back and forth - by just rotating my wrist. This activates the wings (which are attached to the head by fishing line) which gives the impression of him ruffling his feathers after just waking him up ... just like birds do!
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Reprinted from Puppets Props & Performance, just one of more than two dozen books I have listed now for eBay auctions ending Monday morning. See them all Here.
Why should anyone go to the trouble of writing routines for themselves? There are probably plenty of good reasons. Sometimes the kind of routine one wants is not avalable in books and there is no one who knows enough about the subject to write one. Maybe the ventriloquuist cannot find a routine that says what he wants to say. It could be that a person does not want to, or cannot afford to pay someone else to write routines for him. There are also some of us who enjoy composing ventriloquist routines.
In my book, Write Your Own Scripts, we will explain several techniques you can use to write your own routines. We will also discuss what is funny because a good ventriloquist is expected to be funny. Finally we will put together a script which you can use in your performance.
Techniques explained will include:
Rewriting a routine, Talk a routine, Story routines, and Writing it out, plus seven was you can Learn to be funny!
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Note from Clinton: Write Your Own Scripts is one of more than two dozen books I have listed now for eBay auctions ending Monday morning. See them all Here.
THE ARTS OF VENTRILOQUISM & MAGIC COMBINED!
Contents: Johnny In The Bottle, Joann The Card Duck, Time To Change Clothes, The Talking Table, Dummy Levitation, The Appearing Vent Figure, Producing Figure From The Square Circle, Producing Figure From Tip Over Box (I built one of these used it many times), The Balloon Trick, Bare Bones Of The Story, The Wilting Flower, The Fortune Teller, plus Other Tricks.
(Above) Col. Bill Boley performs levitation of a dummy. 1958
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Note from Clinton: Ventrilo-Magic is one of more than two dozen books I have listed now for eBay auctions ending Monday morning. See them all Here.
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Answer: Although I've sold several Billy Baloney's on eBay, I've never considered upgrading one. I suppose it could be done, but their construction is unique. I'm not interested in attempting the job myself (I guess this is where my "retired" mindset does kick in). However, I did check with our son, Kevin, and he has done one before and he would be will to help you. Be forewarned: because they are a little different and take more work, the charge is $100.00. But Kevin tells me they turn out nice. Kevin's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the first and only major work designed to help ventriloquists enhance the ventriloquial illusion, manipulate the figure (even the most basic figure/puppet) so as to portray every facial expression with correct body language to express any and all feelings and attitudes! Both vocal speech and body language are described in detail. HUNDREDS of topics, attitudes, emotions, actions, attitudes, and mannerisms are listed alphabetically and cross-referenced. Priceless! Written by Cliff Taylor, professional ventriloquist and instructor.
Just one of more than two dozen books I have listed now for eBay auctions ending Monday morning. See them all Here.
Rumors of my demise were greatly exaggerated, but after 4 months in a coma, one year in various hospitals, and a lot of thearapy I am back on stage at the Palm Springs Flollies for the entire season. Truly a miracle, and I thank you for passing the word around.
After the upcoming convention, I'm going to retire to Colorado and enjoy my granddaughter. I'm still planning on coaching a few of my ongoing students, but my performing will be limited.
Hope to see you in Colorado.
"Hi Clinton, . . . I really enjoy your Blog and have it as an icon on my desktop and check it everyday. I recently worked a Renaissance Faire and did two shows on Saturday and two on Sunday. I and other performers were on an outside stage. It was hot. By second show my hand was sweating profusely and the inside of the soft puppet was wet. Is there any way to lessen this problem outside of wearing a glove? I stood my puppet on it's head with the back opening turned up to let the heat out and dry out the puppet. Any suggestions would be appreciated."
You can post your comments below (right) or email them to me: email@example.com
Answer: I've closed the gap on several of the Lovik basswood figures, yes. It requires removing the mouth, and reshaping both the underside of the mouth as well as the neck. Then the entire head is repainted. It does enhance the appearance of the figure significantly. Generally, the cost is about $100 total. Clinton
Taken from William Andersen's 111 Ways to Use Ventriloquism In Church Work. Added to his own experience, were ideas observed, read about, and even dreamed up - 111 ways to use the art of ventriloquism to teach in a fun and entertaining manner. Use this treasure trove of ideas to expand your own service in church and children’s ministries.
Just one of more than two dozen books I have listed now for eBay auctions ending tomorrow (Monday) morning. See them all Here.
Furthermore Luke approved a little name change: In Bavaria Luke is called 'Luggi'. After changing his clothes (now he wears the typical bavarian 'Lederhose') he now looks like a real Bavarian guy.
I am sure that we will keep you posted about the further approach. Kind Regards from Bavaria-Germany.
Check out this list of contents: A Basic Course, Dummy, Education, Entertainment, Figures, Grammar, Habits (Behavior), Habits (Clothing), Impromptu Ventriloquism, Jokes, Kindness, Lighting, Manipulation, Muffled Voice, Novelty, Old Man/Woman Figures, Polyphonism, Practice, Pasture, Publicity, Quench a dry throat, Routines, Religious Ventriloquism, Remuneration (How to charge), Speech, Style, Showmanship, Timing, Uses of Ventriloquism, Ventriloquist - All in a single 60 page book...A-V!
Just one of more than two dozen books I have listed for eBay auction ending Monday am. See them all Here.
I have had the privilege of attending 5 of Jeff's shows over the past 2 years, Jeff has joked about getting a restraining order against me, and he keeps getting better and better. He truly is at the top of his game. All my friends ask me why I am willing to travel to see the same show? My answer is always, its never the same show. True, he has his format and standard jokes, however that is just a small portion. Jeff never stops making his shows fresh and new.
Even though I know that vent is an illusion, when ever I see Jeff perform, I find myself buying into it. His manipulation skills reflect many years of dedication to his craft, and I am happy for Jeff that it is really paying off for him.
After the show, Jeff's stage manager escorted Peter, Ian, and myself backstage for a few minuets with Jeff. Ian and I were joking about being Jeff groupies. As we were walking down the hall (past a line of people already waiting to see Jeff) Peter managed to crack jokes and make everyone in the hall bust out laughing. Spending time with Peter is a great joy in and of itself, but that's another story. When we arrived, Jeff greeted us with a big smile and hand shake. We chatted for several minuets, I had a chance to ask a few questions I have been saving for him for awhile now. Again, Peter started with his jokes and had all of us doubled over with laughter (we can't take him anywhere, well we do, but he keeps coming back). Jeff told us that his European tour starts next month, and he is really excited about that. One of the questions I asked him, was why he took Melvin out of his act. His reply was that Melvin is very very popular in Europe, and we can expect to see more of him soon.
Sadly, our time with Jeff had to come to and end, we said our good buys and that we will all meet up again soon at the convention.
I encourage everybody to check out Jeff's show. Tell all your friends and family, they will not be disappointed.
L-R: Charles Prouty, Dunham, Peter Rich, Ian Varella
IT'S JUST SMART BUSINESS!
By Mark Wade
I am a firm believer of starting and ending shows with a vent puppet or figure. I like to think of these as the pillars of the program...the strong beams holding the show together. And afterall, isn't it the allure of the puppet that says "ventriloquist" to the audience? The distant voice and baby cry are important but not the pillars of the show.
Using a strong animal character at the end of a kidshow is just smart business. It's the last thing the kids remember about your show, and leaves that lasting impression. In other writings I have mentioned that kids like puppets in this order: 1. animal puppets; 2. people puppets; 3. object puppets (like a talking globe, soccer ball,etc.) . I am closing my current school show with an alligator puppet and he "kills" with the young audience. Do yourself a favor, leave the kind of impression that you want with the audience by closing with one of our animal friends (as long as the puppet is friendly and not scarey). You'll make a lot of kid friends if you do! I guarantee it!
Newsy Vents 10/2005
When performing for large groups of kids either in a school or library be sure to position your show for success. I NEVER set up with a doorway or entry way on the same end that I am setting up. I always want the doorway to be in the back of the room so the kids will have their backs to anyone coming in late or having to leave early. Why? If the doorway is in the same end or up front close to where you set up anything or anyone coming or going is a distraction. You may have the audience in the palm of your hand and suddenly lose them when someone comes in. It doesn't take too much to make a young audience lose their attention, so make sure you don't set up where traffic flow can effect you.
Newsy Vents 10/2005
With the greatest of ease;
But not any more,
He missed the trapeze!
Just one of the comedy poems from Col. Bill Boley's Fractured Nursery Rhymes, one of Boley’s most requested books and one of my favorites as well! Packed with laughs. 35 fractured nursery rhymes, 32 funny poems, 13 comedy song titles, and 14 funny songs. Add several to your favorite routine. One of more than two dozen books I have listed for eBay auctions ending Monday am. See them all Here.
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Doug: The Newsy Vents archives have been deleted. They (or a portion of them) may be revived in some manner at some future date, but that is yet to be determined. It is my blog policy that any contribution to my blog will be used on the blog only and the rights will always remain the property of the contributor. This will, of course, be a factor in any decision regarding the archives future fate. Thank you for your comments. Clinton