Ventriloquist Figure Manipulation by Monsieur Brunard


I was looking through my old Oracles (Nov-Dec 1960) and found this great article by Monsieur Brunard (this was his stage name, real name Dick Bruno, for more see the Tribute to Ventriloquism). This is just an excerpt of the article, but he talks about manipulation and I thought I would share it with everyone.

Apart from good diction and clearness of tones in the ventriloquial voice plus a still lip of course, THE HANDLING OF┬ĚTHE FIGURE is next in importance. I might venture to state that it is fifty per cent of the act. Most beginners make the mistake of depending ENTIRELY upon the figure’s mouth action to create the illusion of the figure speaking.

It does, to some extent, but you can certainly HEIGHTEN the illusion by giving the figure MORE LIFE! To place your figure on your knee or upon the stand, causing the mouth to go, “CLACK-CLACK-CLACK” without moving the head or body about, is very poor form.

Another bad form is pulling the mouth lever all the way down, causing the mouth to open at its widest, using this action for talk. You don’t see a person speaking that way, only of course, when they are singing, and in the case of the figure too, when he is supposed to be ‘singing.’

Learn to control the mouth action so that the mouth opening is not exaggerated, but that the correct amount of mouth action is noticeable or that the correct lip-spacing of the mouth action is noticeable and, when the figure pronounces a two or three syllable word, or more, pull the mouth lever for each syllable. The more human the touch, the better your act will be.



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 2012 by Dan Willinger

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7 Responses to Ventriloquist Figure Manipulation by Monsieur Brunard

  1. Bill Smith says:

    Nuff said :)

  2. Bo Carroll says:

    I had the great opportunity to work with Dick Bruno many times. He was a great ventriloquist and friend. He taught me many important tips through the years!

    • Simone Campbell says:

      Hi Bo,
      Dick Bruno was my grandfather, and I am gathering research for a documentary on him. I would love to speak with you! Anyone else who has stories about him, please feel free to reach out to me!

  3. leedean says:

    This was Marshall’s masterpiece according to Frank Marshall himself, sold through a magic shop, and Dick Bruno, stage name Monsieur Brunard, the Faux Frenchman, purchased from there.

  4. Gary Koepke says:

    Saw him perform at the 1975 conVENTion with Joe Flip. A real priveledge to see him perform and a masterful performance. Johnny Main performed as well so it was a real education in manipulation.

    Gary Koepke

    • Simone Campbell says:

      Hi Gary,

      Dick Bruno was my grandfather. I am doing some research for a documentary I am making, and I would love to speak with you.

      Kind Regards,
      Simone Campbell

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