How would you answer this?

Question:  I am a reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, New York, and I am doing a feature story on a talented 14-year-old ventriloquist in our area. Could you tell me a little something about the business right now?   Did it seem to fall off in the 1990s, and is it coming back, or is it something that works better in a live show than on TV. I know we no longer have the typical "variety" show, so perhaps there isn't much of an opportunity for ventriloquists to get on TV.  Anything you could offer as an expert in the field would be appreciated.   Thanks.  Bill Buell
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From Mr. D:  Briefly, I've been in this business for nearly 50 years, and ventriloquists have always complained there are too few ventriloquists seen on TV. And yet, the huge popularity today of Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator are a result, at least in part, of their numerous TV appearances.
As an entertainment form, I believe ventriloquism is more popular today than at any time I've been associated with the art - over 50 years. Yet the number of youth being inspired to take up the art is probably as low currently as I've seen it. The involvement of youth in the art began to taper off in the late 80's- early 90s, a disturbing trend that can be directly attributed (my opinion) to the entry of electronic technology. And this trend is not unique to ventriloquism.   I believe you will find this trend to be true with all the visual arts.
So, if you have found a talented 14 year old with enough confidence and foresight to lay his Smart Phone, I-Touch, and I-Pad aside, and take up a puppet through which to express his creativity, you have found a rarity...he deserves to be recognized!  Thank you for doing so!


  1. I agree with you Clinton regarding your comments to Bill Buell. I think that ventriloquism took a nose dive when Ed Sullivan passed away because he loved the world of puppetry. It started coming back when David Letterman had those 2 Ventriloquism Weeks followed by Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator. As for young people taking it up, I kind of disagree with you because at this past ventriloquist ConVENTion, there were a lot of young newbies there including my 2 grandkids who were blown away not only meeting me for the first time but the vendors and the friendship of everyone there. This year's ConVENTion had the highest attendance ever of 610 and ventriloquism isn't going to die even with TV and movies using CGI to do what we can without it and cheaper.

  2. Canon John Jordan.9/24/2012

    If children are impressed and intrigued by something or someone they see, the seed is planted, and they begin to think, "I'd like to do that", or "I'd like to perform like that". If they see ventriloquists performing, many will see themselves "up there", and start playing at it, or trying it out. Of the two popular ventriloquists mentioned, sadly only one offers a "family" show suitable for children, and isn't he great! We should be ever ready to spread the visability of the skill and art by offering performances where the children are. Libraries, schools, churches and everywhere else are all good. Don't always worry about being paid in cash. The laughter and joy of children can't be measured. The more we put ventriloquism before children, the more of them will want to try it. Clinton, you brought me up short when you said that it's over 50 years for you! It's over 60 years since a friend told me that all I had to practice was "gottle of geer".

  3. As a source of artistic expression I think ventriloquism is well and truly alive, but on the other hand I agree with Clinton that less younger people are taking it up. Probably because it's presents itself as too much of a challenge and doesn't seem as "relevant" as today's modern devices. Hopefully the handful of kids who are learning it will be enough to keep it moving onwards, there are a lot of talented kids out there.

  4. Anonymous9/25/2012

    Vent will continue to grow because it is so different to say "powerpoint" which anyone and everyone can do. Hands on stuff is becoming rarer everyday therefore vent will stand out more and more in the crowd. I have found this when I live storytell with "live" drawings people are absolutely fascinated by "low tech" stuff. Go vent go!!

  5. Anonymous9/25/2012

    & let us not forget. Right Before Dunham & Fator, there was Johnson {Jay} & Lucas {Ron}. They did so very much to keep this art before the public by THEIR frequent tv appearances, etc. in the 1970's, 80's, & 90's. But they don't seem to be remembered & recognized for it as i feel they should. I will always remember the first time i saw them on tv. With jay, it was in the 1970's on Sha-na-na {remember that music group??}, i believe before he was on "Soap", which i didn't care for, & didn't have "Bob" yet. He still had "Squeeky" as his main character, who i truly liked better {Sorry Bob}. With Ron, it was on my favorite saturday tv show, "The Magic of Mark Wilson" {also in the 70's}. OH how i miss those days! Bill Smith

  6. I agree, I too miss the great Vent T.V. days, I think there is a lot of talent these days and I have mentioned this idea to some producers, but I can't seem to find anyone who has time to do this! Bause many of them are doing the churches and Schools, Of which are very important. Mr. D. That sounds like a great retirement plan for you!

  7. I think with youtube, it is easier to do amateur performance online. your video might suddenly get viral. my friends around me knowing that my interest is in puppet and ventriloquism, they find this hobby is weird. Well, i just love the art of ventriloquism even though i havent tried to do any performance.