Carrying Ventriloquist Figures At All Times

A good question was posed to me and I thought I would write up a bit of a blog and then get all of your opinions on this question.

You will see at the ConVENTion that some people will carry a ventriloquist figure around with them all the time. Doing their vent shtick to any and everyone. The question is, is this cool and ok to do especially at the ConVENTion?

My take is that as a beginner in the vent field you will of course have your figure with you and will try you routines out for everyone who will listen but after a while it does become rather intense. Some folks will even find it annoying. I myself find kids to be the ones doing it most and for them I totally understand. Their folks just stepped up and spent a small fortune for a figure and so the child is using it. Would it be cool to take it around with them everywhere after ConVENTion? I think not.

Professional ventriloquists do not carry their figures with them at all times. In fact unless they are in a performance setting you will never see this. Even at Convention you see Terry Fator, Jeff Dunham, Jimmy Nelson, Bob Isaacson and even the Great Man himself Mark Wade walking around but they do not carry a figure with them.

So lets see your comments and find out how everyone else thinks.



Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to:

Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger

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8 Responses to Carrying Ventriloquist Figures At All Times

  1. Gary Koepke says:

    Back at the first (1975) conVENTion it seems that more people actually carried their figures… not all the time, but in the lobby of the hotel during free times there was a lot of interaction with the figures. And it wasn’t just the kids. I remember Bill Boley with his Marshall version of Freddy sitting on the couch holding court. Some of the cruise ship guys were interacting, etc. I learned a lot at that convention watching the others interacting, ad-libbing, etc. I was 18 and performing 6 days a week at Six Flags in those days and it was fun. They don’t do that as much anymore at the conventions… don’t know if it’s less free time or more done in rooms or no one gets out their figures except at the photo session, but personally I wish there was more opportunities to “play”. Still, carrying around the figure all the time, to the lectures, etc. was never done and would seem “creepy” if everyone did it.

    Just my opinion.


  2. bob abdou says:

    when I went to my first convention in 1993, the first thing I saw when I walked into the lobby was Johnny Main with Snuffy, dressed like a cowboy, I immediately took a photo. glad I did. That was the first impression of the convention that has lasted a lifetime. I too carried my dummy with me everywhere, I think as a rookie or newbie, it is ok, it is encouraged, it is allowed. The convention is probably the only place where a vent is accepted for who they are, not mocked, live and let live. My only concern now when I see someone walk around everywhere with a puppet is it must be a hassle. Not the performance part, just having 2 free hands to carry stuff if you buy things in the dealer room, if you eat at the restaurant a vent has to put the puppet in a place where it won’t get food on it, stuff like that. If you hear something and want to write it down, you can’t. I just look at it more of a hindrance. I will still walk around with a new puppet for all to see and get suggestions or comments but when the show starts or when we need to eat, back in the room it goes. As time goes on, a person might change their mind when reading this, I know in 93, I walked everywhere with my dummy, not now.

  3. It is always a fun thing to see the different Vents wandering around in the hall with their charactors. It is great fun to see the general excitement of all at the photo shoots, however, there is always one or two (names withheld since we all know who they are) who will walk up to you regardless of who you are talking with, and stick their charactors in your face so the charactor can butt in to your conversation and take over the topic of talk. This is more than irritating. Some of the younger kids do it, but that is not an annoyance because they move on just as quickly as they got there. It is only when a very small number of “adults” do it that it becomes problematic. Other than the minority of these types, it is part of what adds to the great fun of ConVENTion and it would seem empty if it ever went away.


  4. Well, I remember my first convention back in 1980 a lot of us brought out our figures for the late night gabfests and free for alls. We used to sit in the lobby on those cumfy couches or in The Cup And Chaucer (If you go back that far) and have a lot of fun.

    There was always the occasional person who would have their figure or puppet with them ALWAYS, like an appendage. With kids, it’s a given. They LOVE to learn and play. But sometimes, with adults, it can be a bit much.

    The only time I find myself carrying a figure or puppet is if it is NEW and I’m getting a “feel” for it. Just learning to work it, or throwing out ideas.

    But hey, I earn a living playing with puppets, so what do I know? LOL!

  5. Chuck Lyons says:

    I agree with Dan, boiling it down to there is a time and a place for everything. I come from the clowning side of Ventriloquism and at our conventions you have people walking around in clown makeup for the whole time. Same thing with the vents, I believe there is a time for this , open mike, photo shoot, ect but as Bob says it can become cumbersome when you need two hands. If you want to be a Pro vent than take a cue from the Pro’s perform when you can but don’t perform all the time. Just my humble opinion.

  6. leedean says:

    As Paul Winchell put it, paraphrasing, most of his most intimate conversations with Jerry were never spoken. That was how I remember the 1955 Pittsburgh convention. The Great Lester and Johnny Main, were there, and Lester passed on in about six months. I have heard it said that Johnny Main passed on simply holding a figure’s head in hand. W.S. Berger, Doc. Weiss (famous escape artist, probably kin to Houdini, also Weiss), Connie Shearer (Mrs. Roy Benson, both famous magicians), Stanley Burns, Jay Marshall and his wife, Frances Marshall, Tommy Atkins, and Frank Marshall, and other appreciators, were all there. They liked looking at the figures on display, rather than picking them up and making them talk, or strolling around with them like that.

  7. Bill Smith says:

    If i went to every conVENTion, as some have, was a pro, or a dealer, someone who’s seen so many puppets, etc that it actually makes them sick, then MAYBE i’d agree. But i doubt it. Although i doubt many dealers mind seeing their work being shown off, & getting free publicity, or they should close up shop. I for one LOVE seeing the different figures, puppets, etc everyone has, {especially when they’ve made them themselves!}, unless their owners are annoyances, as has happened. Hey. This is the only time vents get to get together & swap ideas, stories, & sometimes probably, puppets! One of my favorite things about the convention has been seeing all the puppets, & meeting great folks like Harold Crocker & “Butch”, & others of his ilk {of which there are VERY few}. Besides, the non vent families & their kids staying at the hotel really go ape over all the puppets. I’ve seen & experienced it. That also translates to good feelings from the hotel’s side towards having the vents there. If you go to a magic convention, the only ones you see not doing tricks for each other, other than mainly the pros, & then even THEY do often impromptu stuff, is the “stuffed shirts” who i can’t tollerate. PLEASE don’t let the VENT gathering be just a bunch of guys & gals standing around “lifeless”. It’s not the Republican/Democratic convention, it’s the VENTRILOQUIST convention. A time to have fun. Not discuss politics & the weather. Just my humble opinion.

  8. Ventfly says:

    I think Jay Johnson broke the ice for us all to carry a figure anywhere, anytime, anyplace and to involve people in real life situations:)

    Ok, so that was tv, but it is fun stuff at the convention!

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