If you are a follower of Looney Tune characters, then you know all about the soft spoken fictional resident of planet Mars, Marvin The Martian, and his comical attempts to destroy the earth (because it blocks his view of Venus). Of course, he shows up in locations other than his own planet and has had several memorable run-ins with Bugs Bunny and other fellow cartoon characters.

The actual Marvin the Martian character has no mouth (although he speaks), so you know what you see here is not intended to replicate the Looney Tune character itself. My puppet is a Ventrilo-ett, all decked out for a costume party in his brand new MTM2 costume. He may actually greet a few of the costumed youngsters who ring our doorbell tonight! One of these unique, limited edition ventrilo-etts can be delivered to your door as well.
Order: MTM2 - $49.95 Contact Mr. D

To quote Marvin: "Where's the kaboom?!"
See the entire current family of "Mr. D's Ventrilo-etts" HERE.


This original ventriloquist cartoon was published by Maher Studios in the NAAV "Ventrilopedia", Just For Fun, (Vol. 4) in 1977. Unfortunately, the artist's name is unknown. If someone reading this recognizes the work and knows the artist, please contact Mr. D.
As a result of today's drawing, I'm awarding a copy of this book to: Bert Lloyd.


Att: San Antonio

From Charles Prouty:

Hey Clinton, I just wanted to share with you an opportunity I had this past Wednesday. The one and only Pete Michaels is performing this week in San Antonio. Ian (Varella) invited me to join him in picking up Pete at the airport and then to have lunch. After dropping Pete off at the condo he is staying at, we went to pick up Peter Rich for the show. Pete is awesome on stage, and although it was a small audience, he had us laughing so hard we could hardly breathe.

I would strongly recommend anyone in the central Texas area to go see Pete's show. He is performing at the River City Comedy Club through Sunday night.

L-R: Ian Varella, Pete Michaels, Peter Rich, Charles Prouty


You may remember my writing about the three unfinished heads I purchased on eBay - heads I started myself over 25 years ago, gave to my son, and then bought back (still unfinished) from Kevin when he offered them for sale on eBay. Weird chain of events, I know, but true. Long story short, I have just this week completed one of those figures, and here he is, happy to be finished after waiting over two decades and eager to begin his performing career.

He is 36" tall, and has my standard offering of animations: turning head (360 degrees), with ball/socket neck, side to side moving eyes (self-centering), and raising eyebrows. The hands and ears were molded by Brose, but otherwise he is 100% my creation, signed and dated. $550.00.

Contact Mr. D to order or ask any questions.


Mr. & Mrs. November

S-8 (16" tall) $49.95; S-9 (14" tall) $44.95

Four weeks from today is Thanksgiving holiday (for US citizens - our neighbors to the North celebrated their Thanksgiving a few days ago.) With the festive celebrations in mind, I created this Ventrilo-ett pair. Some would call them Pilgrims; others Puritans. I just think of them as my seasonal puppets for the month. As with all my Ventrilo-etts, they are signed, dated, and numbered.

To order Contact Mr. D


Santa's Helper

This Elf Ventrilo-ett came into being as a result of a reader request. I had fun making him and am pleased with the results. I will make a limited number (due to my limited time with the holidays approaching). 16" tall. $49.95. If you would like to own one, please reserve it now; pay later when shipped. mahertalk@aol.com


Ho, Ho, Ho!

Here's the jolly Ventrilo-ett himself, ready to lend a hand with your holiday cheer. This one is spoken for, but I'm taking orders for shipment the first week of November. 18" tall. Traditional Ventilo-ett style puppet with mouth control lever mounted on head post hidden behind the legs.
Santa Ventrilo-ett: $49.95
Tomorrow: Santa's Helper

Henson's Fantastic World

"As children, we all live in a world

of imagination, of Fantasy,

and for some of us that world

of make-believe continues into


Jim Henson (1936-1990)

* * * * *
When the Jim Henson traveling museum, "Fantastic World" (organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Traveling Exibitition Service), made a stop in the Northeast, Al Getler picked up four copies of the colorful 12 page fold-out photo programs to be given away on this blog. Filled with photos, Henson facts and history, the pages give a glimpse into how a one-man enterprise, begun in the 1950's, grew into an internationally acclaimed phenomenon. Jim's work is known in dozens of languages in more than 100 countries.

The program includes excerpts for a 1982 interview with Jim. As a figure maker, I was drawn in particular to this exchange:
Q:" Once you create a puppet, isn't it that much easier to make a duplicate of it?"
Jim: "Strangely, no, with major characters in particular. Any time we have to duplicate Ernie and Bert, for instance, we all cringe because they're very, very difficult to duplicate. Much harder to do than the first ones. There's an incredible subtlety to the placement of the eyes and the planes of the shape that they're made of, and if any of those things are off just slightly, the character doesn't look the same."
How true!
All four of these Jim Henson Exhibit Programs are being awarded today, one each to: Rose Baggerly, Marcelo Melison, Johnnie Kelly, and M. M. Towne.


My favorites!

C-4 (left); C-5 (center); C-6 (right) $44.95 each

Well, not necessarily my absolute favorite ventrilo-ett characters, but I am a bit partial to the hair styles on these men. :-)


Speaking of Africa...

Major Wes Green recently returned from a trip to Kenya and he shared this picture with me of one of the places where he shared the smiley face "Pocket Puppets" with the children. He also took many of his late wife Sharon's puppets to Kenya where his friend is sharing them with the children. Wes says it's "Funny that the puppets who only spoke English are now chattering away in Swahili!" The smile on the pocket puppets communicate in all languages as well.

A Dummy Goes To Africa

I'm offering a vintage book for give-away today: "A Dummy Goes To Africa", by Rod Cameron. Published 1962. To explain the content of this book, I'm printing below an excerpt from the Introduction, "written" by Rod's dummy, "Gabby":
"This is Gabby, Rod's alter ego, speaking. I wanted to write the whole book, but Rod wouldn't let me. There have been many (at least two) requests for this book. It deals with Rod's early life (no requests for that), with my own beginnings (the best part of the book), and most of all, the missionary work of the Camerons with the Batonga tribe of the wild Zambezi Valley - the most primitive tribe in Central Africa.
"The Camerons have had some interesting, exciting, and never-to-be-repeated (thank heaven) experiences working among these people. So, in a sense, this is a 'missionary diary'. The name of the book may be misleading. It isn't named for me. You see, a dummy is one who does not speak for himself, but another speaks through him. Rod is trying to be a dummy for the Lord - 'determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, etc.' It's a good ambition.
"Lastly, this book is dedicated to the proposition that Christianity is fun, and that missionaries are people, too. The job's been hard, but we've had fun; and we hope you will have fun reading about it, too."
* * * * *
This is a hardcover book of nearly 300 pages and was provided as a gift for today's drawing by George Boosey. Knowing the theme of this book is of greater interest to some than others, I held a one day special drawing for this item. And the winner of that drawing is: Lisa Laird.


Under the chin improvement

Many of the Lovik basswood figures were constructed in such a way that a large gap was exposed under the chin when the mouth/jaw was opened. I've improved a number of these by removing the mouth and cutting a piece from the jaw and repositioning that piece to the neck. Hopefully these photos will provide a visual description of how this is done. This operation does not improve the mouth action at all - but it does greatly improve the appearance of the figure when it "speaks".

This modification does require a repainting of the head after the work has been completed.

Completed and repainted figure:


The Secret of Ventriloquism

"Try the experiment of having yourself blindfolded in the center of a room surrounded by a few friends. Have them make sounds or talk in imitation of a far-off sounding manner, You'll be surprised to find how difficult it is to determine the exact location from which the sound originates, without visual aid.

"In effect, the ventriloquist is doing the same thing. He is imitating another voice, concealing its real source by not moving his own lips, and then by giving his 'dummy' lip motion and movement, he misdirects you into believing the voice is actually coming from the 'dummy'".

* * * * *
The above is from the book, Secrets of Ventriloquism, "Calostro" author, copyright 1949. Thanks to George Boosey, I have reprint copy (by D. Robbins & Co.) of this vintage collectible 24 page book to give away in today's drawing. And the winner is: Daniel Carpenter.


Henny Frankenstein

From Dave Markham:

Here's a little video I made with my Ventrilo-ett ! He's perfect for a "Dummy's Dummy ", which is how he's being used here! I've only had him for 3 days, but he's so easy to swing into action, and so easy to work, I think you be hard pressed to find a better guy for the job ! Thanks ! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWuMg1giAVA

"Dummy On Board"

Here's a souvenir ventriloquist item designed to become a collectible. John Pizzi sent me one of his "talking Andy dolls" which comes with a key chain and is packed in a storage box designed to look like a travelling trunk. Press his tummy and he says 10 different phrases.
With John's permission, I'm awarding this unique item as a gift today and the winner is: Hunter Phelan II.



by Mark Wade

I'm always surprised when I am asked this question..."Why do shows for kids? Do they really get it?" My answer.."ABSOLUTELY!" Kids are brighter than ever before, and catch on to things much easier than adults. They are like little sponges ready to soak up everything in which they come in contact. They also have vivid imaginations and that makes it fun also to work with them. We can create some really wonderful shows that not only are a blast to do, but can educate them as well.
Besides the satisfaction of working with wonderful, imagination-driven audiences who appreciate what you do, there is also the stability factor. When 9/11 came around many corporate vents lost big time. Their work was cut to practically nothing. Now with the recession I find the corporate guys are still having trouble (that bothers me greatly as they deserve to work..). But the kidshow market..it's alive and well and was not hampered very much during either of these two terrible events. The shows went right on happening. Talk about stability! Kidshows are really where it's at.
I know the kidshow worker doesn't get as big a single paycheck as say a corporate vent, but our paydays come more frequently and with that we have some added advantages. By diversifying our shows over a broad area of children's performances we have staying power. Somebody's "down" time is somebody else's "up" time, and that's good. Also because we work more often we have the plus of honing our acts and adding new material as we go.
Does this sound like I am a big advocate of children's performing? Yes!! Yes!..and Yes again! Try it, I know once you get the "kidshow bug" it will be worth it to you.


Younger Audiences

From Geoffrey Moran (Australia)

Smaller kids often relate better to "stuffed animal" type puppets because it's often like the toy they play with or take to bed at night that they feel safe with. With little kids I always try to make my puppet "shy" at the start so as to help the kids that maybe feeling unsure about the puppet - if the puppet is "shy" they (the kids) want to help the puppet to be un-shy and so the unsure kids almost automatically join in.

I make the puppet shy by:
1/ Having him say he's shy/scared from his box BEFORE he comes out,
2/ Once he's out of his box I have him shaking nervously, and.
3/ hiding head under my arm till he's finally brave enough to come out.

From Dave Erskine:

Last week Ronny Darnay and I attended our 1960 high school class reunion. He was chosen as the least changed graduate.

Travel Size Practice Dummy

Question: I need a travel size dummy for practice. Any ideas?

* * * *

From Mr. D: How about one of the Axtell Birds? The Dodo (shown here) was my personal favorite. It packs very small; plays big, and is useful long term as a complimentary variety puppet to a full size traditional "hard" figure. A figure of this type is more than a "practice" figure. It can be used on future shows with great effectiveness. A wise $$ investment, in my opinion.
And then there are my own Ventrilo-etts. (hint, hint :-) Low cost "dummy" with hard figure type operation (headpost with lever for mouth operation), and also "plays big (you'll be surprised!) and packs small".


Customer comments:

"Thank you so much for the Ventrilo-ett. It certainly exceeds all my expectations. It is a mystery to me how you can put out such an excellent product at these prices." Larry Colombo
* * * * *
"My Frankenstein Ventrilo-ett arrived safe and sound today, and man is he fantastic! My head is swimming with ideas for him! Thanks!" Dave Markham

* * * * * *
Click Here to see the growing
family of Ventrilo-etts!

Trio Ethnic Ventrilo-etts

A-4 (left); A-5 (center); A-6 (right) $39.95 each

Note: I can make up any ventrilo-ett as Anglo, Hispanic, or African-American. I can also exchange clothes and hair colors and styles. Just ask.


Younger Audiences

Comment and Question: I did two small shows Saturday at a church camp. This day was a "Day Camp for beginners. For the ten o'clock skit I used my friend Burt. The children were rapt but did not respond much to the humor. I think it went over them. Still some were asking if I was to be there later in the day. On one show I used Choco my dog friend. He looks like a stuffed toy animal. He went over great! The children really got into the act - I wasn't sure who was in control. This experience caused me to think that I need more material for smaller ages. Any suggestions as to what works best for preschool to maybe fourth or fifth graders?
* * * * * *
From Mr. D: Young children respond to VISUAL humor, puppet antics & tricks, silliness, riddles, knock knock jokes, funny songs, mixed up nursery rhymes, etc.

With older children you can present more traditional conversational routines, dialogues, jokes, etc.

A few books I carry ($5.00 each) that you might consider:
Ventriloquism For Young Children (Andersen)
Funny Stuff For Kid Shows (Wade)
Ventriloquism For Pre-Schoolers (Burks)
Silly Riddles & Funny Knock Knocks (Andersen)


Custom Ventrilo-ett

The Colonel

The diversity of Ventrilo-ett characters possible is almost limitless. I have a long list of my own. (Ideas are always much easier than actually bringing them into reality.)
But, I'd much rather be working to create YOUR custom character. The Ventrilo-ett you see here is the result of a customer request.
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, I have a Pilgrim in mind as one of next week's projects. Unless, of course, someone has their own idea as to a custom character they need for their show!
I'll also be working in the future on a Robot...

Thought for the Day

Always dream and shoot higher than you know how to. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.
Try to be better than yourself.
- William Faulkner


This is the latest figure from my shop, just finished yesterday. These photos are being posted primarily for customer approval. But since he is one-of-a-kind I thought I'd share him with you as well. The hands, by the way, are from Braylu.
And now I need to go finish some new Ventrilo-ett characters. They'll be introduced here soon.

Rare Prize!

Thanks to Jay Johnson, I have in hand this rare piece of ventriloquist memorabilia. Jay told me this is one of the few remaining cast scripts from the "SOAP" TV series. It is a 53 page original script (not a copy), autographed on the front cover by Jay and "Bob". This is script 31, dated September 7, 1978, with the lines for Chuck and Bob circled.
Knowing there are a number of avid Jay Johnson fans who visit this blog as well as serious collectors of vent memorabilia, I asked those who would like to have a chance to own this book to send me their name so I could hold a special drawing to name the winner.
Nearly 100 people responded! From that sizable number of entrants, however, only one could be selected as winner. And that very lucky person is .... Ron Schulz (KS). Congratulations Ron!
Thanks to all of you who responded. Oh, that it would be possible to declare you all winners!


1974 Maher Figure

From Mark Schrader: I recently acquired a 1974 figure that you may have built. I was hoping that you could tell me a little bit about him. He's in like new condition and came in the nice case with the Maher sticker.
* * * * * *
From Mr. D: How fortunate you are - that appears to be a well cared for figure! While it is quite likely that it was sold though Maher Studios, I did not personally build it. It is one of the Knee Pal series of characters built by Craig Lovik and sold by Maher Studios in 1974. It appears to be a composition "Archie". I did make the buttons he is wearing. We sold "Dummy Buttons" (many designs) for several years.

The carrying case was also purchased from Maher Studios. It is one of the early models made of vulcanized fibre. When the quality of the fibre board available became less than pristine, our case manufacturer advised that we switch to the poly materials still being used to construct the cases I sell today. The "bumper sticker" ("Support Your Local Ventriloquist") was produced by the NAAV. When placed on a vehicle bumper they weathered and faded after a few months. But here you have one that's still readable after 35+ years!
* * * * *
P.S. From Mr. D: The Archie character was one of the most popular from the Knee Pal line. It's conceivable that someone reading this has been searching for one of these as a backup, or even primary figure. Mark is offering this figure for sale. If you would like more details, contact me and I'll give you Mark's contact information.
One more comment about the custom carrying cases I'm selling today. I'm out 0f stock on the largest size #357 cases, but still have four of the #355 and two of #353 cases. You will find sizes and prices HERE .


Special Ventrilo-ett

Look alive, gang! Granny's in the house! The idea for a Granny ventrilo-ett came from a customer suggestion, but it took me a bit of time to work out the design. Over the weekend, however, she became a reality. Ventrilo-ett C-6 $49.95 PP


Peter Rich has a favorite joke he uses with his buddy, Rawhide (left), and he shares it here for your enjoyment and use:
Dummy: I decided to grow a mustache.

Vent: Why?

Dummy: That way when I am with my girlfriend, I can kiss her and brush her off at the same time!
(Ventrilo-ett shown is B-3)


Ventrilo-ett Comment

From Mike Palma:
"What a wonderful compact figure! I am a physical therapist by trade and when the patients hear I'm a ventriloquist they want a sample of what I do. The Ventrilo-ett is the perfect figure to have close by to give a improv little act. Plus it helps me book shows in the retirement communities!
(As you can see by his face, Eddie is very happy to have his very own ventrilo-ett figure!")
"Say . . . do you feel a draft?"


"Say aaahhh.."

My large fingers don't allow me to reach far enough into Jerry's mouth to install a new spring, but there's always a way! And at this moment, like any skillful dentist, I have a few questions I want to ask Jerry!