Too late?

Question: I have been practicing, but to be honest, not on a everyday basis and to this day still have not bought my first puppet. The reason I am telling you all this information is because I am saddened and frustrated and about too give up. I have heard that, "if you want to be successful in the ventriloquist field/art you should of started in the early years", or, " You're too old to start a business doing this art." Now, I will tell you that I don't expect to be famous like Terry Fater, or like Jeff Duham, but I would like to do small parties and/or church functions. I would love to continue studying and become better and do small jobs to make some money on the side and have fun too. I would take your opinion and words very seriously and respect them. Do you think its too late for me? Do you think I am to old at 41 to do this art and have fun and make money at it? I really need to know.
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Answer: It is NEVER TOO LATE to take up ventriloquism! You may never reach elite skill level, but you WILL be able to enjoy performing for yourself and friends. Many folks take up ventriloquism after retirement age. We had one student, Clinton White, who began his study of the Maher Course at age 85 and performed publicly for 10 years prior to his death at age 96. And just this week we received a letter from a gentleman in the UK who was going to purchase the Maher Course in order to refresh his ventriloquist skills at the age of 95! It's never too late! One more thing - I would encourage you to practice with a puppet in hand - it's much more FUN, you'll progress faster, and you will be less likely to become discouraged. I would suggest you begin with a soft puppet of some type, or even a Ventrilo-ett.


  1. I was in my 40's when I decided to make the switch from magic to ventriloquism. Best decision I ever made. You DO need to practice everyday, but following the examples in the Maher Course make it fun and easy. Don't give up!

  2. Anonymous5/20/2011

    At more than twice your age, I can say with assurance that Clinton's words are right on. Order a "Ventrilloette" before today is out to both practice and perform with. I have several full-sized figures, soft and with a head-stick, and I like the Ventrilloettes so much I have two of them. (One's a Leprechaun). Two fit nicely in an attache case. They're easy to carry with you, and children and adults of all ages love them. Move on this, and start enjoying a most rewarding hobby. The fun yo'll have and the pleasure and joy you'll give to others is far more rewarding than money. Money for performance and fees can come later, when you feel ready to charge for a performance. Canon John Jordan.

  3. Anonymous5/20/2011

    At 51, i'm just starting to get back into vent after several years away from performing it, & was a bit concerned too, but thought about it, & realized that the fear, i think, comes from the realization that we may be too old to be "the next big thing". But, i thought, "SO WHAT?!" I never was a "biggie", except, hopefully, to those who i performed for. But as far as age being a factor in being "the next big thing", let me relate this to it: a young boy from budapest, named Erich Weiss, took the last name of his idol in magic, a frenchman named Robert Houdin, & added an "i", which a friend told him would mean 'i'm like him', thereby becoming Houdini. Robert Houdin inspired Houdini, & countless others in magic, & is called "The father of modern magic" His age, when he STARTED into magic, was 40! So, there ya go! Just have FUN! Best of luck! Bill Smith

  4. Last year I got back into ventriloquism at age 45. It helped me a lot that I was already in a ukulele band (which I also didn't get into until after 40), which gave me a natural place to insert a short vent bit. I took a song I already played and turned it into a duet; adding just a few lines of dialogue (2 or 3 jokes) to set it up. I've also generally found it useful to practice both things at once--I'll often rehearse ALL our songs ventriloquistically. (I know, spell-check, that's NOT a real word.) This made a big difference for me, since I used to find it a deterrent to practicing ventriloquism when I didn't have a real act worked up yet.

    Another thing I'll do which gives me more practice while also being performance (of a sort), is to create "e-card" videos, posted on Facebook or youtube, for friends and family on birthday's, holidays, etc. It's fun to do; good practice and the pressure is lower. Plus it's always good to review video of yourself to work on your technique.

  5. I bought the Maher Course when I was 44 (three years ago) and it sat around my house for those 3 years. I decided that I too wanted to do small shows and church functions so I am really trying to stick with it. Practice is the key. Practice really took on a new meaning when I got my Mannequin American, Jimmie Ray (soft puppet). I purchased him on ebay for about $200. Keep plugging and don't give up. And don't turn down being famous in case that happens.

  6. P.Grecian5/21/2011

    I was a ventriloquist from the age of four up through my late teens, when I began to phase it out for other branches of show business, keeping my vent to one hospital show annually. With so little practice, my technique grew sloppy.
    Now, decades later, though I continue making my living in other parts of show business, I've started back into vent these last few years. I've learned some things about the fricatives and plosives that I never knew back in the day. It's never too late. Never. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous5/21/2011

    41 did you say? Lord Have Mercy that's quite young! Here is what you do, Get a soft puppet. Make it a cute animal like a dog, a rabbit, or a cat. Buy a small pocket mirror that will slip into your shirt or jacket pocket. Where ever you go, bring that puppet with you. If you see children in a restaurant, or a store, have the puppet say, hello, what's your name, and simple little things like that. If they are crying tell them it is not allowed. There you are! You are performing and most parents will be smiling at you. That is real practice, in front of people, and will give and build your confidence. Use the small pocket mirror to practice with any time you are waiting for an appointment etc. Finally, practice talking to yourself in your car, and places like that, simply holding a conversation with your puppet. Carry some cards in your pocket, if asked for them, hand them out. The money will come, in time. Fun + money = A GREAT TIME. You can volunteer at a Vet's hospital, local library, nursing home to gain even more experience. If they have a budget for entertainment, ask for travel and meal expenses to start with. Good Luck!
    Joe "Capt. Joe" Radle </:O)

  8. Anonymous5/21/2011

    I agree with what Mr Detweiler said that it is never too late to learn ventriloquism. I was in my 40s when I took the Maher Course and it was the best thing I've ever done. I have had so many wonderful experiences since then with shows I perform with my wife, Terri, as "R & T Puppets". Yes, there will be times when you might get discouraged, but I've found that you reach a point where God seems to know that your batteries need recharging, so to speak. Doing ventriloquism is wonderful because sometimes unexpected things happen during a show; wonderfully unexpected things. So, my advice to you is to hang in there; keep at it and it will pay off. It is for me!!

  9. I started at 49, when our Sunday School superintendent asked for a volunteer at the sign in table. Being shy as a child I knew how hard it is to go to a strange place. So I thought a puppet would help... and of course it would need a voice... Now nearly 10 years and 8 conventions later I'm still at it and having a blast.

  10. Anonymous5/26/2011

    I am 59 years old and just now getting back into ventroloquism. I have never performed publicly but I love to get my figure down and just have fun with it.I do hope to one day do public performances but that day is far from now.