Wanted: Face lift

From Susan Vermaas:
"I am looking to give my little friend, Dusty, a face lift and maybe a new feature, such as raising eyebrows. We purhased an unfinished head and hands from William Andersen, and my husband finished the head and built the body back in 1994. We are missionaries through Good News For Little People and use Dusty in our meetings."

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Boley CD's

We're awarding two Col. Bill Boley gifts today. A classic 8x10 photograph will go to Nick Schols.

And a new copy of Boley's "Here's Ventriloquism" instructional CD will be held for Daniel Slozat. Congratulations. Contact Mr. D to claim your prizes.

Note: I still have a supply of this 60 minute CD by the master, Col. Bill Boley. Not only is it a collectible, but it is also a very practical set of basic instructions for anyone wanting to learn ventriloquism. A variety of voice types are demonstrated and some live performance is included as well. If you would like to purchase on of these CDs, they are $7.95 each (free shipping). Email me to purchase a copy: mahertalk@aol.com


From Desmond Bradley

Hi Clinton, your books arrived OK with the $5 token. I do thank you for that gift as it is a good memorial to the Maher name which crops up every time I read about ventriloquist Courses, as being one of the best. And a reminder of your good work in carrying it along. Again, thanks, as I probably wouldn’t have sent* for it.

I’m retired and now go to an aged care home on Fridays to give a short vent act. It’s good practice, and errors I make are amazingly covered in the Maher Course and books you sell. It goes to show past ventriloquists discovered these tips to pass along. I’m concluding the Maher Course lessons quickly now as I don’t intend to be a pro or try and get paid jobs. It’s enough to bring some laughter into the old lonely folk.

Hey, Clinton, I bet your retirement keeps you busier than ever. My retirement keep me fully occupied with needing to write up an act every week, and playing the harmonica when I fall short. But my life is satisfying when I see the acceptance of the old folk towards my puppets. They don’t laugh loudly but they show love towards the puppets. And I never thought elderly people would co-operate and talk to puppets as though they were alive. Ventriloquism has a place with Senior Citizens probably more so than with kids.

Well must go and think out another act.
* * * * *
From Clinton: You guessed it - I'm as busy in retirement as when I was working. But without the pressure. That's huge! You have set a retirement challenge for yourself, too, writing a new dialogue each week! Your creative skills will increase rapidly.

Enjoy the "Dummy Dollar Coin" and put it in a safe place. I wanted to be certain it would quickly become a *guaranteed collectible, so I had fewer minted than there are readers of this blog. That's why they're being distributed "first come first serve while the supply lasts." Enjoy!

Lisa Laird went to a local jeweler to have her "Mr. D's Collector Coin" made into a necklace. Very nice.
She wrote, "I have received many compliments on it - THANKS again for such a wonderful keepsake!"
My pleasure. Enjoy.

Thank you!

I'm overdue in awarding one of our duo-signed "World of Thanks" Maher Studios' plaques. This one is being held for today's winner to claim. And the winner is, Tom Dahl. Contact Mr. D to claim your gift.


Jim Burke's "Small, Small, World"

“…Serve one another through love” (Gal. 5:17)

By Jose Jimenez (photo right)

Jim and I had a recent conversation. To the best of my recollection it went something like this.
“What? I was made to perform. I don’t understand why I have to hold the computer in this back pack. It is not so comfortable being doubled up, you know. And travelling in a small compartment on a plane for 10 hours to Paris, and another five hours to Cairo? You’ve got to be kidding. Then, you want me to be hauled around on a bus for who knows how long inside an even more cramped space? Thanks but no thanks. I don’t think I’ll do it.”
“Your call, Jose, but Sharon and I are really looking forward to this trip to the Holy Land. We will be taking the Exodus route from Egypt to Israel, and if you want to go there is no other way.”
“Give me one good reason why I should do so,” I responded.
‘How about, you never know when you might be needed to serve others?” Jim replied.
“But, it will be uncomfortable,” I tried to explain.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” Jim said tongue- in -cheek. “After all, that’s what the Master said. We should serve others when it is comfortable for us.”
“What if you don’t even need me?” I wanted to know. “I might go all that way and you won’t even need me around.”
“I may not need you,” Jim answered. At least he was being truthful. “But, I don’t know what I don’t know. If I didn’t think there was a possibility that some people might need a laugh or two, I wouldn’t ask you to go.”
“Can you give me any guarantees that people will appreciate us if I do make an appearance?” I asked.
“Well, Jose, if you are dependent on affirmation from others, it would be best to go ahead and stay. Being a servant is never about our personal affirmation.” Jim started to put me back into the room with the other buddies in our small, small world.
“Wait, wait, wait…” I exclaimed. I have to admit I was feeling a little guilty. “Let’s not be too hasty here. You did say that there was a possibility that I might be of use?”
“Okay, pack me up. I’ll give this servant bit a whirl.”

(16 days later—after returning from the Holy Land)

“What do you think now?” Jim asked.
“Wow! How was I to know that our plane would be delayed four hours in Atlanta, and that we would need to spend an extra night in Paris before going to Cairo since we missed the connection? When you had me entertain that family from Syria at the dining table, and those two sisters going to India, we all had a ball. Even the waitress asked me for my food waiver before it was said and done! Who would have known that she would have entered into the time of jocularity?

And, man, oh man, oh, man. Did you hear the laughter of the group that evening around the dining tables after a day of visiting the incredible sites around Jerusalem? I’m so glad I began horsing around. Everyone was tired, but what a time! All of a sudden they weren’t so tired any longer. No wonder Jesus wanted us to be servants. That’s where the greatest joy is found!

“So, are you ready to ‘take up the towel’ again?” Jim asked. I knew he had in mind another trip. Admittedly, the jet lag was not my friend.
“Yep. Only one question” I responded.
“What’s that?” Jim wanted to know.
“Would you consider getting a bigger back pack or a smaller computer?” I started to do some bending and stretching exercises. Somehow, I already knew what the answer would be.
Jose Jimenez


No dummies here!

Daniel Slozat was the winner of the recent Photo Caption Contest. He chose the "Bush" puppet as his prize and yesterday sent me the above photo with his newest puppet on the far left.

Daniel's cast of characters seen above are (L-R): Herman P. McCoy (a hundred-something year old WWII vet), Jr. (your classic boy), (Otis (a British dog), Fred (a match with a phobia against water), Woody (uncompleted), Luella (a rare bird), and Tex (a cowboy that is a few fries short of a happy meal).
I thanked Daniel for sharing this photo of his "wise guys" - they can't be called "dummies" as I see they've all gathered around the laptop to read the daily blog post on Mr. D's Ventriloquist Journal!


Copyright 1996 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Card collection

From my collection of business cards I've pulled a random set of 25+ for today's give-away. A few autographed. As a bonus, I threw in one of my "Collector Cards", signed. This is a different sort of prize, I know, but if you would like to have them, Manole Pascalide, they're yours! Contact me to claim this set of memorabilia.


Huey Ukuleel progress

When Ted Nunes asked me for some advice on how he could create a "talking" ukulele, a gave a general response. But I'll be honest, his creative work is resulting in a character far superior to anything I would have imagined!

The jaw slides up and down with rubber band for tension. The string feeds through the head stock and down the back of the neck where it will connect to the body under some tension. The string will be knotted in several places so Ted can work the mouth with his thumb wherever his hand might be positioned along the fretboard. Eyes will move side to side. Raising eyebrows are being considered. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product! Excellent job, Ted!



I'm closing my shop to new orders (and repairs) Jul/Aug, so this will be one of my last new figures until Sept. For sale now as a "Buy It Now" item on eBay. One-of-a-kind and price lowered, too:

Stick-out tongue question

Question: "How is the sticking out tongue effect accomplished and can it be added to a figure?" Cleve

* * * * * *
From Mr. D: The stick-out tongue is arguably the most difficult of all extra effects . Whether it could be added to a figure would depend on the design of the mechanics and would likely require a major rebuild of inner mechanics and the controls. Personally, I would not accept a stick-out tongue order. new or add-on, (and I've probably built 50 figures with a stick-out tongue!). The book by Andersen, Make Your Own Dummy, does have one figuremaker's diagram for building the stick-out tongue. I do sell the book for $10.00 PP.

From the pages of the Smithsonian

The many faces (including one with the tongue extended) of a rare McElroy figure were shown on a full photo page of the Smithsonian magazine. I cut out and framed the page with this amazing collage for today's prize which has been awarded by drawing to Dennis Lynn. Lucky you! (Contact Mr. D to confirm your address and claim this large 11x14" wall hanging.)



From James: I received the13 Nutshell books and am very pleased with speedy delivery! Ventriloquism in a Nutshell is very good. Even though I have taken the Maher 30 Lesson Course, there are things you say in the Nutshell book differently. And there are some clever routines. Thank you so much for you patience.
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Ventriloquism in a Nutshell was, and continues to be, the best selling book of all titles published by Maher Studios. $5.00 each, postpaid. Today I have drawn the name of Elisabeth Bacon to received a free signed copy of Ventriloquism In A Nutshell.
Contact Mr. D
to confirm your address, Elisabeth, and claim your book.

And if any reader would like to purchase a copy, also signed, they are $5.00 each postpaid. mahertalk@aol.com


Question of Sound

From David:

As someone who is slowly trying to learn ventriloquism, I'm beginning to see that it can be a much bigger investment than I ever imagined. I foolishly thought that with a couple of figures, I was all set, aside from constantly practicing and picking up some type of stand when I was finally ready to perform.

I now realize that if I start small, which seems the logical way to go, I could very well end up in activity or recreation centers or other venues without sound. The nebulous area seems to be an audience of between 50 and maybe 150 people; the last is too big for an unassisted voice to be heard easily, and the first is too small to probably have some kind of sound system.

So that makes me wonder at what point a beginning ventriloquist should start thinking about a portable sound system? And that seems to be the tip of the iceberg. You need stands to elevate the amplifiers, a microphone and stand and probably things I'm not even aware of.

* * * * * *
Answer From Mr. D: Your questions stem from very valid observations. So I have asked two hard working and very busy pros who do multiple weekly shows for their thoughts and advice. See the following posts by Mark Wade and Bob Abdou. Others will likely chime in with their comments. Ultimately, the final decision is yours, but I hope this helps.

Here's My Advice for David

By Mark Wade

I always use sound no matter what the size of the audience may be. I found it's too hard on your voice to try and carry the show without it...you end up trying to speak over any crowd noise or distractions and you can strain your voice doing this, and if you wreck your voice you may have to wait for a few days before being able to perform again. I definitely would recommend a good quality small sound system.

For shows the size of 50-150, I like the small system put out by Anchor Sound Systems called the Anchor Explorer. Its relatively light weight (compared to the bigger systems), puts out about 70 watts and works well. You can buy a battery and A/C version or just an A/C (plug in) version. Also MiPro has a small unit that is light weight and rather inexpensive as sound systems go. I would figure on spending somewhere around $750-$1000 for a better quality system. I know there are others on the market that are much less expensive, but I'm talking about a system you could use everyday and not wear it out. This would be your call. I would not buy a system under 40 watts of power. My philosophy is that more sound is better than less sound...you can always turn your sound system down. But if it's underpowered, you can't turn it up any louder if you need it.

I use "On-Stage " brand speaker stands, available from most music or sound stores. As for mics, I am not a fan of wireless, although I have heard the Countryman wireless head set does a nice job. I am more of a traditionalist and use the Shure SM-58 mic and hard wire (a mic cable plugged into the system). Why do I prefer a regular mic? With an SM-58 you have a broader surface to speak into and it is more durable. Wireless systems tend to be less durable and things have a tendency to happen to the mic during shows. That's not scientific reasoning I am referring to...it's just from my own personal point of view and comes from observing all types of performers who use them. You will probably have others who will rave over the wireless mics and I say "good for them!". Everybody has an opinion. You have to find out what's right for you!

Look up these companies to get ideas on sound: Sound Projections ; Anchor Sound Systems : MiPro Sound Systems. Hope I've helped. Good Luck!

The Beginner and Sound Systems

By Bob Abdou

Good Question, "when should a beginner vent invest in a sound system?"
Here is what I thought would be the definitive answer...once a beginner vent stops performing for family/friends in their living room and start performing outside the home. It's that simple.

Should a beginner vent use a sound system when it is a very small crowd at a senior home or other facility? My answer is, YES.

No matter the size of the audience, a vent should use a sound system. Why? Both voices come from the speaker box making it much easier to create a believable illusion from the audience's view. If no sound system is used, a beginner vent will wind up speaking louder than normal and both sounds will come from the throat area. When that happens, the audience will also hear the dummy's voice coming from the vent's throat area and that will break the appearance of a true ventriloquist act.

So once a beginner buys a dummy, the investments just start to snowball from there. Like a professional trunk, (not a suitcase), writing a script, the vent's appearance, a performing table (if you don't use your knee) and a sound system.

What sound system should a vent buy? If you ask 10 professional working vents you will get 10 different answers. The decision is based on what a beginner vent wants: a mic? a headset? a lapel mic? cordless? music? 2 speakers? one speaker? speaker poles? a mixing board? cassette tapes? Cd's? IPOD? remote control? foot petal? assistant? The choices are endless. The final decision all falls on the beginner's lap and what they are comfortable with.

Here is my final thought.. .a vent that can't be heard is a mime.

Bob Abdou



Needa 'nana*?

This is the first photo (Polaroid) taken of me in what was then my basement puppet storeroom with my newly completed Banana puppets. I believe the year was 1983 0r '84. Made of carved Styrofoam covered with yellow felt, they are great fun and have traveled several thousands of miles with me. And that's not always easy with the big fella - he takes nearly as much space as an adult passenger - although much quieter!

Now, however, it's time for them to move on, and I'm offering them for sale as a pair (if two bananas can be a "pear").

Glenn Pearce sent me a note saying I really needed to sell these two as a pair. To do otherwise would, in his words, "create a banana split"!

(*These have been sold.)

Today's winners...

I certainly hope Bert Lloyd and Doug Davidson are watching my blog this week because their names have been drawn today to each receive one complete set #2 of MA Denemark's "Great Ventriloquist" Collector Cards! Contact Mr. D to confirm your address and claim your prize.


Christian Ventriloquist Shows

Question: I am a Brazilian Student Ventriloquist, on lesson 14 of the Maher Course, Deluxe Edition. I want to provide Christian ventriloquists shows, but I have no reference since in my country it is a completely new kind of show. Can you help me to create this? I see that you have a lot of books about this theme. I think it's a good thing. How can I do this?

* * * * *
Suggestions: I assume you are a believing Christian. That is the first requirement. Then look ahead to Lesson 30. You will find a number of tips there for "gospel" shows.

A ventriloquist show in church is little different than any other show, except that most shows in churches will carry some sort of Bible theme or Christian living message. Yes, there are many such dialogue books available. (See the listings under "Dialogues For Ministry" at the Maher Bookstore )

I advise that you start by offering your services to various groups and activities within your own church.



Here's our Granddaughter, Faith, holding her Dad's (Kevin Detweiler) latest creation. This comical animal has the appearance of a soft puppet, but with the features of a hard puppet! A 30" donkey Kevin calls "Frito". A true Ventriloquist figure! He has a hollow body with a headstick, head turns full circle, tilts, nods, etc. A wonderful moving mouth controlled by a lever on the headstick from inside his body. He's ready to take some time and go fishing. He has a pole and a fish - he just needs a hand! Frito loves Taco Bell and Taco Johns, but would love to come to your home. See more photos on the eBay listing:
Click Here

"Baby Doll" figure by Kevin Detweiler

Oh! baby, what a beautiful hand crafted ventriloquist figure! Designed and created by Kevin Detweiler. A 36" ventriloquist figure, head is created from wood and hands and feet are molded. He has side to side self-centering eyes, blonde curls. So cute and lovable! He was built for Mrs. Nina Cooper in 2000 but after she developed illness, Kevin bought him back from her in 2008. However, Kevin is now ready to let this baby go again. Figure is in perfect condition! As with all figures that Kevin Detweiler creates, workmanship is 100% guarantee for life of the owner. If anything goes wrong he will fix at no cost! Don't let this work of art pass you by! See more photos with the eBay auction listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=130401803152

Just for Fun

This is fun. I promise you WILL laugh when you find your role model. NO CHEATING. I was really surprised to find out who my role model was. FIND OUT WHO TRULY IS YOUR ROLE MODEL..

DON'T SCROLL DOWN YET, DO THE SIMPLE MATH BELOW, THEN SCROLL DOWN TO FIND YOUR HERO. It is unreal at how accurate this is! No peeking! Ready, here we go.

1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3, then
3) Add 3
4) Then again Multiply by 3 (I'll wait while you get the calculator....)
5) You'll get a 2 or 3 digit number....
6) Add the digits together

Now Scroll down and with that number, see who your ROLE MODEL is from the list below:
1. Einstein
2. Oprah Winfrey
3. Snoopy
4. Bill Clinton
5. Bill Gates
6. Gandhi
7. Ronald Reagan
8. Babe Ruth
9. Mr. D
10. John F. Kennedy

P.S. Stop picking different numbers! You have your answer - just deal with it. :-)


Happy 89th Birthday!

Peter Rich turned 89 years young this week. Happy Birthday, friend! He's pictured here with one of Bob Abdou's "mini-me". It's Bob's newest show puppets. It's what I call a "portrait puppet" and the mini-Abdou is a great likeness! All wood carved. Made by Scott Bryte. Bob will operate this puppet with a foot pedal while his hands are full with other puppets! (How Peter can hold this character and retain his big bright beaming smile must be some sort of test!)

Photo Caption Winner

"Silencing terrorism, one dummy at a time." Daniel Slozat
(Bush puppet)
* * * * * *
Runner up:
"An Achmed in the hand is worth two in the bush." Glenn Pearce
(Talking Achmed doll)
* * * * * *
Honorable mention:
"His lips never move ... wait ... he has no lips" Barb Phoenix
"Oops! The jaw bone's DISconnected to the head bone!" Mark McClintock
"The new comedy duo of 'speaks no evil and thinks not at all.'" Andy Mrkvicka
"As you can see, this GRAVE situation is well under hand." Jim Burke
"Please don't talk when I'm interrupting" Joe Radle
THANK ALL OF YOU who sent entries. You certainly brightened my days!


Dave and Linda Miller returned from an amazing trip to China last month. Among the photos Dave sent to me were these of a giant marionette and puppet that were a part of the Qin Dynasty Terra-Cotta Army Tour they took in Xi'an, China. I believe the incredible puppets were created as part of the 2008 Olympic spectacular. I guess when the world is your stage, size does make a difference! Dave (foreground of photo right) says he tried to make them talk but was unsuccessful due to the language barrier. :)

Friendly Freddy

It was in the early '70s when Dave Miller created a cute little cartoon character he dubbed, "Friendly Freddy". This little fellow with his now easily recognized smiling face has appeared in many Maher Publications, including the Maher Course, Newsy Vents, and throughout the pages of Ventriloquism In A Nutshell And elsewhere.

Now, in 2010, Dave has designed and handmade a handful of Friendly Freddy paper puppets to be given away exclusively by drawings on this blog! They'll be a rare prize, and if you are lucky enough to win one, you'll own a unique piece of Miller/Maher history. Today we've drawn the names of three individuals who will each be awarded a Friendly Freddy Paper Puppet. The winners are: Bill Bingham, Susan Mitchell, and Paul Zaloom. (Contact Mr. D to claim your prize.)


Customer Comment

Dear Clinton,

Eli and case have arrived, safe and sound! He's FANTASTIC and I love him!
I used to fool around with ventriloquism when I was 10 to 13 years of age. Because I was a fan of Paul Winchell & Jerry Mahoney, my Mother bought me a dummy to practice with.
When I was a child I had a terrible stutter. It has persisted but as I have grown older it diminished to a minimal difficulty. Surprisingly, when I did my little ventriloquism act as a kid, I didn't stutter. I attended a school then that required all students to give a 10 minute speech once a year. I did my little act and it was a big hit.

After I retired, my wife bought me a very rudimentary figure to fool around with. So I've practiced a little bit and when guests come over I pull old Danny out and have him talk.
The Country club here is putting on a charity talent show and I've been volunteered to give a five minute performance with my puppet who now has had his job taken by Eli. We'll knock 'em dead!
Thank you for all your help. You have been great!
Newell Falkenburg


Mark Wade Writes:

I am a person who tries to keep up with the latest things offered in the business world. Sometimes I am successful, often times it takes me a while to adopt something new. I eventually get things in place, but I am by no means what they call in business an "early adopter". This has helped me and at times put me at a disadvantage by having to catch up to new things, but I do get it done. I am working through Facebook, Twitter, etc., and am slowly adopting these things. But it will never replace the 'personal touch".

I was trained by my Dad. He was a master salesman who was trained in the old school of the "personal touch". He had sales training when he was a young man and the training stuck with him and he blossomed as a great salesman. I am very fortunate that he shared that knowledge with me and I will share a few gems with you.

The "personal touch" is absolutely the best way to go about selling yourself and your show. My Dad taught me that people buy often times because you take time for them, and because they like you. Likability is the key. It's much easier for someone to tell you "no" if they don't particularly care for you, so strive to be liked by your customer.. and LISTEN to them! If you try to monopolize the conversation all the time telling them how great your show is, they don't feel you had their needs in mind. The most important thing to your client is themselves! Listen, learn, and write down (not on spot when you are talking to them) info about them that can help you in later conversations. Learn about their likes, dislikes, favorite sports team, their family, and keep it on a Rolodex card or in your computer. Review the material before you make another contact with that person and you'll be surprised how they will respond to you.

Also, two of the biggest things is to be genuine and honest in your dealings. Do what you say you are going to do, and deliver more than they figured on getting. When you exceed their expectations you will keep them as a customer, and hopefully, a friend.

I'll continue to share some of my Dad's wisdom with you via this column. Keep at it and remember the "personal touch" is best in all dealings. Don't get totally sidetracked by social media. Use social media as a tool to help you with your own "personal touch".


For sale: Goldberger Doll Clothes - complete new sets

It's closet cleaning time. I have a good number of new complete sets of Goldberger Doll clothes (including shoes, and accessories) for sale. For the 30" dolls.
Charlie outfit: Suit, Shirt front w/bow tie, monocle, shoes, top hat: $12
Mortimer outfit: Jacket w/sewn in vest, pants, shirt front w/bow tie, shoes, straw hat: $12
Howdy Doody outfit: Shirt w/arm bands, pants, neckerchief, belt, boots: $10
Danny O'Day outfit: Jacket, pants, shirt front w/bow tie, shoes: $8
Groucho outfit: Suit jacket, pants, shirt front w/string tie, shoes, glasses, plastic cigar: $10
Slappy outfit: Suit jacket w/lapel flower, matching pants, shirt front w/bow tie, shoes $10
Plus cost of shipping. While they last.
Payment by Paypal preferred. Check or money order accepted.
20% quantity discount for 10 or more outfits (any combination).

Ah...it's all coming back...

Okay, now I remember why I never finished the heads I started some 25 years ago - the mouth axles were in the wrong position and needed to be rebuilt. Not easy! I'm determined not to give in to the urge to set them to one side again! But as long as I'm going to invest that amount of extra time and work, I might as well try to change and improve the character shape of the face, too. That's what I'm doing here on the first one (maybe if I tackle them one at a time my completion record will improve!).


The right time and place

From Bob Abdou
Willie the werewolf works for Santa,
Gutters is drunk but does not drink.
Rusty is just lost in his head,
Roofus is a singing cowboy.
Me, I'm the straight man.

Even though I got into vent at mid-life age, (30 years old), I am very grateful that I got in when I did. I met some incredible vents in their prime; I hung out with the best and I saw the best. I did have to learn the ropes, keeping my mouth (not lips) shut and just listen. And listen I did.

I am glad I made a career (so far) as being a vent/puppeteer. My life is so rich - money could not out weigh it. I will always say, it's not the age but the mileage, even though I have been in this biz for almost 20 years. The past 14 years have been spent working as a professional (meaning, if I don't work, I don't eat). I am the pro today because of my desire to succeed and act like a real vent should on and off stage. I want peers to look at me and smile with approval.

I am glad I did all that I did when I did it, because vent today is not the same as it was 20 years ago. My world of vent opened up to me at the right time and place. I hope the same is true for you.


Keeping the figure clean

Question: What's the best way to keep the figure clean and fresh? Should it be kept in some kind of bag? And is it okay to leave the head in place, or should it be removed when the figure is stored? Lastly, what about the wig? How do you keep it clean and nice? David

* * * * *
The best way to keep a figure clean and safe is to keep it in a padded suitcase (with head in place) when not practicing or performing. Cover the face and head with a soft fabric material such as an old T-Shirt. (Many use towels, but terry cloth tends to muss the hair more than material with smoother nap.) Slip a pair of socks over the hands. It's probably obvious, but always wash your hands and dry thoroughly before handling the figure. Mr. D


I have three Achmed dog tags with chains to give away today. From http://www.jeffdunham.com/ And the winners are: Carleen Elliott, Tom Farrell, and Scott Flack.


Cutomer Comment

"Hi, Clinton. My coin in holder came in the mail yesterday. Boy, is it good looking. Thanks for offering it. I've put it with my NAAV collection. I really think anyone who doesn't take advantage of this item is missing out on a true collectible as they are very limited. Thanks, again." Ron Scherer

Outfits for smaller vent dolls

Question: Hi. I recently purchased a Lester figure on ebay. He is Sooo Cute! He is the basic figure 26 inches, string in the back of the neck. Do you know where I might purchase some outfits to dress him up in? Thanks.
* * * * * *
Answer: I do not know a source for outfits of the small size Lester would require.. I do know that I have seen artisans at arts and crafts fairs who specialize in doll clothes. If you can find someone in that business locally, that's where I would suggest you start. Ask at a local cloth store (JoAnns, etc.) to see if they know of a local seamstress who makes doll clothes. I'm also thinking some of the outfits sold by companies such as Build-a-Bear might work. And you look over the doll selection being sold in thrift stores and garage sales. You might find one similar in size wearing a costume you could transfer to Lester. Chances are you could purchase the entire doll just to get the clothes and still save money over the cost of a custom sewn outfit.


What was Maher Studios?

I correspond frequently with several aspiring vents ages 10-12. Recently one of them sent me this comment and question: "I read on your blog where Maher Studios closed in 2006. What was Maher Studios before 2006?"

Now, that's a question that doubles as a reality check! A reminder that while you may be a legend to one generation, to the next generation you're an unknown! Over the years I've observed this often. Now I have the pleasure of experiencing it! :-)

With that in mind, here's a very rare memento to remind some lucky blog reader of the past existence of Maher Studios, Littleton, Colorado (etched on the side of the knife). It's a nice multi-purpose pocket knife. By today's drawing it has been won by Brad Bosen. Contact Mr. D to claim this unique collectible.

Mostly personal...

Question: As I looked through your photo galleries I noticed that your creations have gone out to a large number of people and so has your repair work. What is it like knowing that your work not only touched the lives of the ventriloquists themselves, but also that you helped give a countless number of people in audiences memories they will never forget? What's it feel like to in some form or fashion be a part of so many lives?
* * * * *
Answer: Your questions are humbling as well as encouraging. To sum up my thoughts up in a single phrase: I feel extremely blessed! Mr. D


Workshops on Ventriloquism

From Jim Burke:

I will be doing some workshops on ventriloquism at the Performing Arts weekend sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention in 2010. The basis of the workshops will be some topics covered in the Millennium Maher course. (I will promote that Course, by the way). I am toying with the idea of having available for sale a number of the books, "Ventriloquism in a Nutshell". I learned ventriloquism from this book about 35 years ago, and still say it is the best regarding beginning ventriloquism. Are the books still available from you, what is the cost for small bulk quantities? On the same line, Where is the best place that individuals can purchase the Millennium Course now? I guess inquiring minds simply need to know :-).

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Note from Mr. D: You can purchase the Millennium edition of the Maher Course here: http://mahercourse.blogspot.com/ And, yes, I do discount the price of the Nutshell book when purchased in quantity.


"Detweiler University"

From Steve Engle:


There are thousands of Detweiler University grads who have majored in many Detweiler-mentored subjects. Not only A to Z ventriloquial subjects but many life lessons as well.

Throw in Dean of the School of Encouragement, for starters.

In fact, I think you should be christened the "JOHN WOODEN OF VENTRILOQUISM." The ultimate coach.

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From Mr. D: Humbling words, posted here at Steve's request. I do so with my sincere appreciation, (and a bit of reluctance). I will say that I feel very blessed to be able to do what I do. Thank you Steve, and thanks to all of you for your support and friendship.

Detweiler University?

Periodically, when wearing my "Detweiler University" gear around town, someone will ask where the university is located. I tell them, "You're looking at it...the school of hard knocks and I'm a lifetime student!"

The lessons of life and living - you know what I mean. I'm now enjoying another such experience. You may remember the set of three unfinished "Clinton Detweiler heads" my son was selling on eBay. These were figures I started in the '80s but never finished. After gathering dust in my shop for several years, I gave them to Kevin to finish. But, like father, like son, he never finished them either. So, Kevin listed them for sale on eBay (with my permission). However, watching the auction progress, I found myself feeling a bit guilty, realizing someone else was going to finish my work...and perhaps a bit envious - just enough so that I placed my own bid to win the auction and redeem the heads! Maybe now that I have $255 invested in them, I'll be motivated to complete the jobs!

This week's lesson learned at "Detweiler University"? "It is less costly to complete a job when started, than to postpone completion for 25 years!"
Or, as someone else has famously expressed, "Better late than never!"
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(P.S. "Happy birthday, Doneta!"


Tight lipped

The "Box Car Bob" figure shown with Keith Lovik (see "Talking heads" 5/29) belongs to Bob Steininger and was recently delivered from Keith to Bob. Then when the interview was scheduled, Keith asked to borrow Box Car, so the figure was promptly repacked and returned to his maker for the interview.

I'm not surprised at this exchange, because as a figure maker myself, I know it is difficult to have groups of figures on hand for random photos. I normally finish a figure and pack it up the same day it is finished. There's about a 5 minute window of opportunity for photos which is why I keep my camera in my shop.

Bob said, "I heard it went well and Keith sent him back. Box Car Bob and I are working together, although Box Car is a little tight lipped about the interview."

Another unclaimed prize

Hard to believe this prize went unclaimed. I suspect someone was not watching this blog! Jimmy Nelson's "Instant Ventriloquism" and "Ventriloquism 2" album, both on two audio CDs. Brand new, still in the sealed package. With companion script book. Autographed! Wow! What a treasure. Provided for this blog give-away by Lee Cornell Productions
So today I drew the name of another winner for this "regift". Elizabeth Burry, if you contact me within 14 days, this gift is yours!


Talking Tie

I'm often asked if those unique neckties with moving mouths are still available. There's no question - this was the most popular novelty puppet created by Kevin Detweiler. The open and closing mouth was controlled by a string on back side of the tie.
Dozens of the original design were sold. Then a licensing agreement was made with Lovik World to handcraft a revised version of the ties (shown here) in quantity for distribution through dealers. Hundreds were sold. The comical "Talking Tie" was popular with both vents and non-vents. A booklet of dialogue and monologue material (Tie-Alogues) was produced as a result of this item.
The demise of the "Talking Tie" came when apparel manufacturers discontinued the clip on tie style made of a non-fraying material. And now, even neckties themselves are less popular than 20-25 years ago. Can "Tyler" ever make a comeback? I'd like to think so, but who knows...."knot I".


Winner comment...

"Mr. D. I will be attending the 2010 Vent Haven Convention in July and as a new ventriloquist (In training) I am so excited that I won this DVD (Special drawing) Isaacson DVD). I have started late in life on this wonderful adventure but have always played around with hand puppets. I remember that last year we were at a store called MARDEL's and I found a rack of animal hand puppets. There were two young children sitting at a small table watching me as I took the small dog puppet and started talking to it. I then started having the "Dog" talk to the children and they started talking back to the puppet. The parents were smiling and laughing at the little dog as it talked and joked with their children. My wife had to finally pull me away and put the little fellow back. Later, as I walked by the rack I heard the little boy telling another little boy that the little "Dog" was sleeping and that he had been talking to him earlier .... I WAS HOOKED!! The fun I had and the enjoyment on the children and parent's faces was quite a Rush .. I AM HOOKED. I am now taking the MAHER course. Again, Thank You very much." Bob La Belle

Lightup Bow Tie

Question: I recently got one of your figures made in the early '70's. He is a work of art! How did the light up bow tie work? All that is left is two snipped wires. Did they go to a switch on the headstick? Thanks for any light you can shed on this (no pun intended!)

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Answer: The light up bow tie had two wires that went to an ordinary "D" battery. As I recall, the end of one wire was actually soldered to the bottom of the battery. The bare end of the other wire attached to a metal spring taped to the side of the battery. With your finger, you would bend the spring over to touch against the top (positive end) of the battery and the lights would light. Crude, but it worked! If you'll go to my Photo Album of Clinton Detweiler figures from 1969-1974 you will see several figures that are wearing a version of the lightup bow tie, including the one in this photo.


And the winner is...

Would you like to have a DVD* of Bob Isaacson's entertaining history story and performance recorded live at the 2009 Vent Haven International Convention? Autographed? I know some of you were at the convention and were privileged to hear the presentation first hand, and others of you already own the DVD. But this prize went unclaimed so I suggested readers who had not had the Isaacson experience and would appreciate owning this DVD to send me a note. Wow! Nearly 50 of you did! Thank You!
While you can purchase this DVD from Lee Cornell (link below), I only have this one to give away, so I held a mini-drawing from the names of those who contacted me. And the winner is: Bob La Belle.
*Produced by
LC Video Productions

One = More than One

One extra animation: many added additional visual emotions!
(Raising/lowering eyebrows)


Noisy and Inattentive audience

I have a question. Terri and I did one of our live shows last week at a restaurant in Fremont, Ohio. Usually, we do 2 sets. Unfortunately, during the second set, the majority of the people in the audience were sitting and talking rather loudly while we were performing. It was very noticeable. My question is: What is the best way to handle a loud talking audience of adults? This is something I have wondered about. Do you have any advice? Ron Butcher "R & T Puppets"

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Ron: Did the diners at the restaurant know in advance there would be entertainment during the time they dined? In other words, did they come to the restaurant with the idea they were going to eat and watch a show? Or did they come with the idea they would spend an evening sharing a meal and visiting with friends? Those are two totally different settings even though both would take place in the same venue.

Restaurants are a very difficult place to present a show. Diners can make it very difficult, especially when they'd rather visit than be entertained. I think the walkaround entertainer fares better in an informal restaurant setting. You soon learn who enjoys being entertained and who wants to be left alone.

Find those diners who are giving you their attention and focus your performance upon them. If you are being paid for your appearance, you owe management your best effort. But if there's no paycheck coming your way for the evening and you're under no other obligation, and diners are impolite and paying no heed, cut the show short and pack your bags. Clinton



Due to a very busy summer schedule I will be slowing my own personal shop production. But here's a smart fellow just completed and listed for "buy it now" reverse auction on eBay (sorry, sold).

Florida Ventriloquist Association

Top row (L-R): Al Stevens, Harry Schwab, Nita Padgett, Ed Thomas, and Tom Dahl

Bottom row (L-R): John Parisi, Malcolm Denmark, Donald Woodford, Jackie Manna, Margaret Davis, and Lee Wolfson.

It is extremely difficult to sustain a regional ventriloquist club or association, so "congratulations" to the grand group of vents in Central Florida who have managed to pull it off. Meeting every other month in someone's home, most of the time is spent socializing with a couple folk using the opportumity to perform, trying out new jokes and routines. Sharing and mentoring takes place as well. These photos are from the most recent get-together last week.