The Magical Phil Nichols!

The Magical Phil Nichols!

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Catch Phil Nichols performing at the Texas Renaissance Festival and Dickens on the Strand or through his web site at: http://www.texasvents.com
Born in Illinois in 1964, Phil Nichols’ showed an early aptitude for art and won his first art competition at age 5, the same year a gospel ventriloquist and missionary visiting church became Phil’s first exposure to Ventriloquism.

Christmas 1973, Phil’s mother put Horseman Willie Talk dolls on layaway for Phil and his sister Melissa. That first instruction sheet began his journey. Three years later, his mother gave him a Juro Charlie McCarthy doll and the Edgar Bergen album. Phil worked so hard he wore the album out in the process!

Phil and Melissa’s 1978 fan letter, addressed merely ‘Edgar Bergen Hollywood California’, resulted in a letter from Mr Bergen, a new copy of his album, and autographed photos for both children. Phil still has the album and photo and credits Edgar Bergen’s influence for the foundations of his act and, years later, Mark Wade for mentoring him in kids show work.

Phil completed the Maher course in 1982. This knowledge lit a fire under the young ventriloquist and he became determined to build his own puppets.

Derailed in 1990 by his father’s death and family need, Phil used his sculpting skills in the Haunted house, Texas film and TV, and Halloween industries for 20 years until health issues from the chemicals involved forced him to redirect his talents.

“It was like a welcome mat from the Universe.”
–Phil Nichols

Phil returned to ventriloquism. Pulling out his old Charlie doll, Bergen Album, books, and writings, he reviewed old skills and reconnected with Clinton Detweiler for coaching on figure building.

Phil builds all his own props and figures.

Phil worked as a ventriloquist on a TV program, Keys for Kiddos from 2012-2015. He became the first Ventriloquist to play the historic Numbers Night Club in Houston as well as Houston’s House of Blues. During those years Phil’s original character, Bosworth the talking crow, was joined by Corky a cheeky boy, Molasses the dumb bunny (2014) and Aunt Banny Hen (Christmas 2015).

2018, Phil is the King’s Ventriloquist at the Texas Renaissance Festival, adding a jester’s wand named Simon the Simple, and HAM- let the drunken pig. In December, he will jump from the 1500’s to the 1800’s and re-costume for Dickens on the Strand in Galveston TX.

Looking forward, Phil is working on his act for America’s Got Talent #14 and being guided by the same casting producer who helped Darci Farmer go all the way!

Phil Nichols has accomplished a great deal in his career. You can contact Mr. Nichols at his web site: http://www.texasvents.com

This article was written by I.V.S. Member and contributor Ann Seeton.

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by Dec 12, 2018 No Comments
The Multi Faceted David Weyrick!

The Multi Faceted David Weyrick!

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That fellow performing in a tuxedo (honoring Jimmy Nelson) is our own David Weyrick. David keeps his act relevant and family friendly. From the grieving goat Folkmanis, to the elderly and deaf Clyde, to the Library show on the history of puppetry, David blends education and fun.

A very young David received his first puppet at age four and by age eight had his own cardboard theater and a cast of puppet characters.

David (right – holding Mickey Mouse puppet) with his brothers – 1958

At age 10, he saw Vonda KayVan Dyke perform with Kurley Q. in the Miss America Pagent. Learning the word Ventriloquist for the first time, David fell in love with the craft. He still owns his first dummy, Joey!

David still owns and uses his first dummy, Joey.

David’s education in ventriloquism is broad: from Paul Winchell’s book, to Jimmy Nelson’s record, to a workshop by Gene Cordova at the 1990 One Way Street Puppet Festival, to the 2012 ConVENTion, and then on to the IVS and the Maher Interactive Course where he received one-on-one coaching from Ken Groves, Tom Crowl, and Mark Wade.

David with Ken Groves

Rounding out his skills, David worked on his use of arm rods with Dan Horn to bring greater life to his puppet Critter, a creation of Mary Ann Taylor. In 2015, David won second place in the Senior Open Mic People’s Choice at the ConVENTion.

David retired from full time ministry and now does shows for children, seniors, grief counseling, and the history of puppets. His various acts include stories about Critter’s home in Tennetucky and songs honoring Paul Winchell (We All Scream for Ice Cream) and Vonda Kay Van Dyke (Together Wherever We Go).

David is active in Scouting and serves as a summer chaplain using puppets at vespers and can be found in our own IVS Spotlight in his column, MORE THINGS I FIGURED OUT.

David Weyrick can be contacted at ventrildavid@gmail.com

by Nov 14, 2018 No Comments
Magical Eddie & His Puppets | Eddie Siller

Magical Eddie & His Puppets | Eddie Siller

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Eddie & Ozzie

Eddie Siller and his puppets make family friendly magic and ventriloquism in Arizona and are a hit at library shows.

Eddie began ventriloquism at around 8-10 years old with a Danny O’Day doll and Jimmy Nelson record; Christmas gifts he nearly wore out with endless practicing. Discovering the N.A.A.V. and Clinton Detweiler, Eddie enjoyed reading of the vent community in the Newsy Vents newsletter.

31 years from the Danny O’Day Christmas, Eddie’s magic shows kept him busy but his inner ventriloquist wanted stage time. The large rabbit puppet bombed hugely due to insufficient practice.

Deeply impressed by the work of Jeff Dunham, especially the strength and aliveness of his characters, Eddie avidly followed Jeff’s career. A 2010 Jeff Dunham live performance inspired Eddie and he told his wife it was time he got serious about learning ventriloquism.

This time Eddie looked up Clinton Detweiler and completed both the basic and advanced Maher Ventriloquism courses. In spite of copious practice, Eddie desired greater technique. Tom Crowl’s Learn- Ventriloquism course provided that breakthrough in technique. Eddie added a custom alien puppet for the class and soon Zek was delighting audiences.

Eddie & Zek at Vent Haven

Inspired, Eddie added more voices, scripts, and characters: blue horned monster-Ozzie, skunk-Scooch, baby dinosaur-Smudgey

Noodles, brown dog-Spike, and, the only hard figure, Eddie’s hispanic buddy Alonso.

In 2016 and 2018, Eddie attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion. The family atmosphere, where beginners and seasoned performers conversed as equals, touched him deeply.

“With Tom’s course, the help of other vents, and of course practice; I am having more fun than ever.”

— Eddie Siller

Eddie & Spike go for a ride

Contact Eddie Siller:
Phone: (928) 710-1080
Website: MagicalEddie.wix.com/idokidsmagic
Email: magicaleddie@gmail.com

Video of Eddie and Zek taken in 2017 at the Southwest Ventriloquist Club gathering.

This article was written by I.V.S. Member and contributor Ann Seeton.

by Oct 10, 2018 No Comments
Lisa Laird and Pockets Full of Fun!

Lisa Laird and Pockets Full of Fun!

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I like to say that my decision to become a ventriloquist is all my children’s fault!!“

Lisa Laird s a professional who, with her puppets, entertains, educates and encourages her young audiences and their parents as POCKETS FULL OF FUN!

In 2000, Lisa began using puppets in her preschool classroom and in 2005 she added ventriloquism to enhance the educational value of the puppets.. Retiring in 2008, She became a full time entertainer and she says that traveling the Midwest to perform has been a wonderful and unexpected adventure.

Lisa acquired her initial ventriloquial education via the Maher Ventriloquism Course. Refining her skills through three levels of the Ventriloquist in Training program offered by Creative Ministry Solutions, she further honed those skills with private training from Stephen Knowles, Ken Groves, and Mark Wade.

Lisa enjoys challenging herself. She has earned four Gold awards from Creative Ministry Solutions and a first place in the 2013 Axtel Video Contest. She was a featured performer at the Vent Haven Ventriloquist ConVENTion in 2014 and 2018.

The Iowa Public TV show PBS Kids Club featured her in an episode, and now she has the thrill of being recognized by children who have seen her on TV.

More recently, she branched out with programs for senior citizens and women’s groups. She works as a library’s children’s outreach director, using her puppets for story times in schools, preschools, day cares and a special intergenerational story time at a nursing home.

Lisa reports that some of the most joyful and heartwarming experiences she has had are when the children remember what her puppets have said in weeks past, and when parents of severely handicapped children share that their children respond to her puppets and how they are more open after those visits.

This article was written by I.V.S. Member and contributor Ann Seeton.

by Sep 12, 2018 1 Comment

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