Random Reflections No.1 – Ventriloquism

While reading from my collection of the “Grapevine” (a publication put out in the late 1940’s by W.S. Berger & The International Brotherbood of Ventriloquists, IBV), I found this interesting article. It’s from the May-June 1949 issue. Here are excerpts from the article by Fred Adkins:



Ventriloquism, one word, but it means so much.

Has any Ventriloquist, I wonder, stopped to reflect for a moment, just what is meant by the name?

To call oneself a Ventriloquist is to call oneself an Actor, a Mis-Directionist, a Comedian, a “Feed” and a Facial Contortionist. Let us enlarge this field by analyzing each in turn:

An Actor-He must be an actor, capable of acting two distinct parts equally well, and both parts must be acted simultaneously. They must be two distinct characters, each one having a holding power over the audience, and neither must relent for a second.

A Mis-Directionist — Our Artiste must hold attention by animating an inanimate figure. He must direct the attention of the audience at his will, by subtle suggestion without allowing anyone to suspect this direction for a moment.

The main object in doing this (from the point of view of the public) is that in addition to his ability to entertain, he has to prove that he can create a partner, also with power to entertain. His created partner must be amusing, not in appearance, but in word and deed. He must be natural, otherwise he would not be funny. He must have character, otherwise he would lose his audience, and he must have powers of entertainment at least equal to those of his feed, the Ventriloquist.

The Feed-As a feed, the versatile Ventriloquist must appear easy, sometimes surprised, amused, shocked and even angry, each expression being in direct contradiction to the created humor of his animated partner.

As Facial Contortionist—In addition to all the foregoing, he must be a facial contortionist, having all facial muscles under his entire control. He must frown facially whilst laughing vocally, he must look shocked and feel funny, look concerned and sound carefree. He must run the gamut of all emotions whilst showing opposing ones, and he must keep his lips still.

Ventriloquially and Fraternally yours,
Fred Atkins




Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. His collection of ventriloquist figures now numbers over 100 figures of which there are over 50 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 2009 by Dan Willinger

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One Response to Random Reflections No.1 – Ventriloquism

  1. Bob Conrad says:

    Very true. I enjoyed the article very much and completly agree.

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