Long or Short Ventriloquist Arms

Steve and I were having a heated discussion the other night about the arms on ventriloquist figures. I myself like seeing figures in which the arms and legs are proportionally correct. Steve though, likes the short arms more commonly referred to as dwarf.

Edgar Bergen used the short arms on Charlie McCarthy but not always. Early on Charlie’s arms were the correct length for his body but later Bergen had them shortened up. This causes them to hang and not be in the way, so to speak (the reason why Steve likes the smaller arms).

When the figure has arms that are in proportion they do tend to fall and can be in the way. I feel that they just look better but that is just my opinion.

If the figure has arm rods then they certainly can be a short arm because you are controlling the movement. It works the same even if the arm is natural looking. I just look at a figure sitting and when the arms are short it looks wrong to me.

I just purchased a superb figure (keep watching the blog to see this figure) and when it arrived the one thing that bothered me about it was that it has the short arms.

I don’t know which is correct or wrong, actually neither, I just like the natural look as to the dwarf look.



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: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com

Copyright 2012 by Dan Willinger

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3 Responses to Long or Short Ventriloquist Arms

  1. Ony Carcamo says:

    As a performer here’s how I decide:

    If I perform with the figure sitting on my knee or lap (which is my preferred way), I like the arms to be long and dangling.

    If I perform with my figure sitting on a vent stand or a suitcase, I would rather have short arms for my figure.

  2. Dave Showler says:

    I have seen old photo’s & film of early vents & there figures body & the arms are ‘real life’ length, the heads are smaller too,I prefer shorter arms (though not quite as short as Mr. Bergen’s figures) & heads bigger in proportion to the body,In the old days arms would swing about all over, well that’s just my humble opinion.

  3. Bill Matthews says:

    Remember, the goal of ventriloquism, at least in near ventriloquism, is reality and believability. I like the proportionate look. It looks much better and is more realistic. It just doesn’t look “wrong.” I’ve used Larry on my knee and on my stand (which is most of the time) and have never had a problem. When I sit him on his stand, I just make sure his arms are hanging freely and not hung up on the table top. I’ve seen short armed and legged figures and they just don’t look right, but then, with good manipulation and a good routine, you tend to forget the short arms and legs. If the figure is just sitting there, the proportionate look is much better, in my opinion. Just my two cents. . .

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