People and dummies

Comment: I took a Mortimer type figure to show my Mom at the rest home. She and another lady are roommates. I had finished with Morty and out of necessity sat him in a wheel chair next to my chair - the one chair in this room. Then a staff lady all of 35 to 40 years old comes in, asks to touch his nose. "No, " I said, explaining dummies cost LOTS of money, are irreplaceable and people who never use a dummy could break them. While I was saying that she had to fulfill her compulsion and touched his nose. Then she asked if his mouth worked, but before I could even reply she opened the mouth by moving the jaw. Why is it that people can't keep their hands off the figure? Larry
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From Mr D: To some people, "hands off" becomes a challenge. I'll bet every vent reading this has a story to tell. Am I right?


  1. Desmond Bradley4/30/2011

    OK Mr.D. You win your bet. I've had children wanting to put a hand into the controls. And a large dog puppet always gets patting and strokes from adults. They like it so the dog says he likes it too. It makes them happy, so why not.

  2. Anonymous4/30/2011

    some people are just plain rude / disrespectful.......

  3. Anonymous4/30/2011

    Sounds like an adult's thorough lack of respect for other peoples property to me. I always wondered what it is they think they'll accomplish by touching the vent figure. Do they think it's like aladin's lamp, & that some miracle will happen? Maybe they think a GENIE will emerge & grant 3 wishes! I wonder if these same people, when seeing a neighbor using a running chain saw, asks if they can touch the blade?! I've had kids want to actually PUNCH the figure! & these are kids who act like they thoroughly LOVE him, but for some reason, want to punch his little lights out! That's why, after i'm done using him in my act, he goes into the suitcase RIGHT away! & the few times i brought him into a nursing home, same thing. That way, no problem. I have him say he's tired & wants to go into his case & take a nap, so they don't think i'm doing something he doesn't want. Being that i work in the health care field, here's a suggestion. If this happens again, politely say "Please don't. You have germs on your hands from tending to these people's needs, & could transmit a disease to my little friend here". Nurse aides are about the LAST people you want touching your vent figure! I was one for 3 years, & KNOW what they handle & clean! Same with Nurses themselves, & housekeepers, which is what i am now, so can tell you, keep the figure clear of them as well! Not only because something on their hands could affect your figure's paint, but because of the even MORE important fact that by handling the figure afterwards, YOU could get something! The health care field is full of wonderful caring folks, but they deal with stuff you truly do NOT want to take home with you. Hope this helps. :)

  4. Anonymous4/30/2011

    There is a huge novelty shop in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. It is called the "Out House!" They sell all kinds of novelties and even a lot of soft puppets. As you enter the store there is a huge, I mean, a really big Bear's Head on a post with a sign on it that says, " Don't Touch my Nose!" So, what do you think happens? I'd say that six out of ten people, including myself, touch that bear's nose, and it roars out, " I said don't touch my nose!" It is funny and it is human nature!

    Okay, puppets are fragile but it's up to you to protect them. I've had a few school children try to beat up some of my little boy puppets. I keep them out of reach, but I let the children touch and pet the soft puppets while I hold them and can pull them to safety out of reach of aggressive grabbers.

    BTW Larry, you could purchase one of Clinton's padded suitcases and next time you visit your Mom you could place Mortimer in that case as soon as you finish with him.

    You could also just keep him on your lap or really near by. It would be fun to just walk in and out with Mortimer in talking mode and have him converse with nurses, doctors, staff, and clients. Here's another idea, why not offer to give the clients a show? You could even explain how delicate the puppets are to the folks. Just remember, you are your little pals, body guard!

    The Next time someone asks to touch a nose, pick up your puppet and hold it firmly and tell them, okay but do it lightly and you can have the puppet tell them that as well. Pull it away if they try to grab a jaw or eye or brow.

    How's that for some advice? Regards, Joe "Capt. Joe" Radle </:O)

  5. Andy M4/30/2011

    I just think, generally speaking, the public really doesn't know/understand how fragile our puppets are. To children, they look like the toys/dolls/stuffed animals stacked up on their beds. Those toys are designed to handle the unconditional "love" children place on them for years and years.

    I dont think its a disrespect thing so much as a lack of awareness. Its our job to protect our instruments, its the audience's job to be in awe and want to get more involved!

    just my two cents :-)


  6. From Jim Maurer:
    I have to agree with Joe that it is up to the figure owner to keep the little guys out of harm's way. Since I work with a lot of young people (and their curious parents) I have been in this situation many times. This is just me speaking for me, but I would never make a person feel uncomfortable about touching the figure, even if they hurt it in someway (which has happened). For me, the opportunity to brighten someone's day and life, rather than make them feel reprimanded is too important. I try to go overboard the other way: "Oh it's all right, I can fix it." to diffuse the tension. And the figures can always be fixed, not to mention it keeps ventriloquism positive, when there are so many who are un-nerved by it anyway. That's another reason I will try to choose a puppet with less animations for these (not up on stage) situations. For example, my Selberg and Alfaro figures have these extremely delicate eyebrows that seem as though they might snap right off. However, my Dan Payes and Montana Dan figures, are much less delicate. Perhaps a soft puppet is the safer choice in some of these informal situations. Of course they can rip too ... just thinking out loud.

  7. Anonymous4/30/2011

    Let's be real. Touching a figure's nose isn't going to break him or cause irreplaceable damage. "No" creates a challenge for most people. Telling them (touchy people or kids) what they CAN do goes much smoother--"You can tickle his ear but please be careful around his eyes...." A "touch magnet" spot like Mortimer's nose could simply be painted with a couple extra coats of varnish to make it touchable. I read where one builder takes extra care to paint and coat a figure's hands as kids always reach to hold hands. Then you have created an engaging situation rather than a negative "No you can't" atmosphere.


  8. Anonymous5/01/2011

    I've no problem with people touching the puppet if they have my permission (however if they damage it I really don't have the money or the time to waste getting it repaired). But, as Larry said, he specifically said "No" & it was totally ignored - people need to learn that No means No!
    I'm sure if a child touched something of value of hers, after she said no, I'd be very surprised if the child wasn't reprimanded & reminded of their manners!!

  9. I agre with many of the other vents who posted here, most of all I feel that its up to the individual vent to protect their property. I am fairly still new here and have found that by bringing a cheaper soft puppet with me satisfies the desires of the kids wanting to touch...I have also found out by experience that if I let the puppet tell the kids that he doesn't like to be touched but he has a friend who is in the case who likes to be so tells me to bring out any of my other cheaper soft puppets for the kids to handle, it works fine.
    If it was only the nose the kids want to touch, that would be fine, but they want to stick their hands in the mouth to see what makes he work.
    Or you can give them a feather and tell the kids he likes to be tickles and the brush the feather on his nose or ears or under the chin and of course at this point you get a big laugh causing the kids to laugh as well. These are just ideas i have experienced, whether it works for you or not is something you have to deal with...