How would you answer this question?

Question: Am I wrong in saying "no" to people that want to look at my "little person". I feel that my little girl and I are one (and she is shy). I feel she is a very personal thing that should not be examined. Mary
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From Mr. D: In my opinion, you're not wrong to decline to let people handle your ventriloquist puppet. I hope you transport and store her in a carrying case. That's the best way to keep curious hands off. I always told people who wanted me to open the case that my pal was "sleeping" or some such excuse. They usually took the hint.

Relatives were the most insistent upon asking to see and handle the figure. On very rare occasion (when a person showed extra special interest in ventriloquism) I would let them do so, but otherwise I did not...handling of a figure distracts from and lessens the illusion of "life" you have worked so hard to create.
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I'd like to hear other comments and suggestions from you, the readers of this blog.


  1. Anonymous8/05/2011

    I did the same Clinton, saying he's sleeping, etc. & that usually worked, especially with kids {funny how the GROWN UPS are sometimes the hard ones to manage!}. Just had a thought though. If the case is in view, but the side you put the figure in is away from the audience, You could hang a "do not disturb sign" on the handle, or on a string hanging out of the case, & when they ask, just pretend to start to open the case to get them out, but then show the sign & say "sorry, he/she can't be disturbed right now" At least it would probably get a laugh or chuckle & smooth the matter over a bit. Just a thought. Bill Smith

  2. P.Grecian8/05/2011

    Do they ask a surgeon if they might play with his scalpels? Or Yoyo Ma for a quick shot at his cello? A vent figure is not a toy, it is a personal tool of art. In over fifty years of vent work, I've never let anyone play with Louie or any of his entourage.

  3. Winkle and Wags8/05/2011

    I agree with Mary and Mr. D. 100%. Winkle sleeps in his case and is VERY cranky when disturbed. One of the reasons he's such a smart-aleck with m-e, I guess. No sir, the only time I'm 'off' is when I'm gone. I want to keep the illusion to the last. Shouldn't we all? I mean, we've WORKED for it. Charlie, Jerry and Lamb Chop were real, while Danny O' Day, Walter and Peanut, and Winston, the turtle STILL are. The case of off-limits to civilians. Let a child believe in it as lonnnng as they can. They'll get enough of adult problems later on ...

  4. Anonymous8/06/2011

    Definately off limits to children - it really spoils the illusion for them (magicians don't reveal their secrets - their tricks are illusions, ventriloquism is an illusion as well).
    However, very seldom, I have shown the inner workings of my "self made" puppets to men of my age who like to create things - but with no children in sight (and usually in the privacy of my home).

  5. Scott Byrte8/07/2011

    I must be missing something.
    Whenever anyone asks to see my puppets after a performance, I always say "Yes". I gerenally hold the puppet, and allow people wo work the controls. I don't think that this in any way 'spoils the illusion'. give your audience some credit. It's nothing at al like a magician's trick, because people (children included) alreadsy know how this works. They know that your 'little person' is not a person at all, and that you do all the talking. But I found that after people examine the puppet and see all it's workings, (and even the inside of it's head), they still want to see it come to life, and will talk to it. If you are able to truly animate the character, then no harm whatsoever is done to the 'illusion of ventriloquism' by letting your audience in on a 'behind-the-scenes glimpse.
    By the way, I use one-of-a-kind, hand-carved basswood vent figures, and none of them were ever damaged or harmed in any way by well meaning and curious audience members

  6. Anonymous8/08/2011

    I like the "Do Not Disturb" sign idea. Great idea! It sets a boundary AND furthers the illusion of life! The tough part is that even your most ardent fan with the best of intentions might not understand how far they can push a trigger before it breaks. So, with another gig coming up soon, you could be in need of immediate repair. If a talented vent 'surgeon' lives next door it is no problem. If not, as 'Walter' says: "Oh well!" I hope no one is ever in that position. If you are ... try not to swear at the fan. They didn't know any better.

    Andrew J.
    Mentor, OH USA