Recently some things developed in the ventriloquism community that were rather disturbing.

Several individuals became upset about the perceived success of others. This blew up on Facebook with people taking different sides.

The same day, an article written for administrative professionals popped up in my news feed. It provided an insight that fit exactly what was happening in our little world.

In the article, several admins (administrative professionals) felt they could not respect their managers.

This was because said managers were demanding respect, rather than earning it.

Like in the vent world, these managers would continually flaunt their “accomplishments” in front of others. They felt they deserved respect because of them.

At the same time, these managers dismissed the achievements of others. They were bitter when others were recognized over their own accomplishments.

The author of the article encouraged the admins to re-open their minds and acknowledge what their managers were doing well.

She asked them to give their managers an opportunity to earn their respect from here forward. At the same time, they were encouraged to work toward earning their manager’s respect.

Here are some tips toward earning respect that the author shared with both admins and managers:


The fastest way to lose respect and credibility is to say one thing and do another. People will believe in you until you give them a reason not to. Do what you say you will, when you say you will.


Respect comes naturally to those who are comfortable and confident enough to be themselves all the time. A genuine, true presence allows others to feel comfortable around you. If you feel you need to project a certain image of success, you probably haven’t achieved it.

Commit to education:

If you stop learning, you stop growing. You stagnate and begin to decay. You don’t have to know everything. It is important to surround yourself with others who can help contribute to your knowledge. And remember that we can learn from everyone. Even if it is what not to do.

Admit when you are wrong:

No one is right all the time. If you’re never wrong, you’re not trying as hard as you could be.

When you are wrong, admit it in a humble, confident manner. Share what you have learned from the experience and move on. Do not continue to dwell in the mistakes.

Allow others their dignity:

Disparaging others reflects poorly on you than it does your “victim.” It destroys the possibility for some to respect and trust you in the future.

Be Behind Others:

The best leaders are cheerleaders. They recognize the accomplishments of others and cheer them on. The success of individuals on the team inspires everyone to shine.

It is the same in our community. When one person succeeds it makes the art more visible to all. It isn’t a call to be jealous. It is a call to support their efforts.

Respected leaders are not recognition junkies.


Be supportive, not competitive:

Be quick to express gratitude for the efforts and contributions of everyone on your team. (Or in your profession.)

Take the time to understand and appreciate each person’s uniqueness. Help other enable their talent.

Someone else’s success does not discount you or your success.

Ultimately, respect will not be earned by your accomplishments, shows, or talent, but by the positive and personal impact you create – one person at a time.

Are You the “World’s Greatest Ventriloquist?

Are You the “World’s Greatest Ventriloquist?

By: Mark Wade

As you get out and perform you will find someone who attended your show may ask “Who is the “World’s Greatest Ventriloquist?” A very deep, and probing question, but not one easily answered.

The logical answer is “it depends upon the venue!”, and that is absolutely true.  To be the world’s greatest at anything you must wear many different hats, you must be at the top of your game in many different fields of vent performing. 

If a vent is good at working for adults, he or she may not be as good at performing for children.  Maybe a great Gospel vent is very successful, but can’t pull off doing a trade show or cruise ship. It once again depends upon the venue.

Another way to look at this might be “who is the funniest vent” or “who has the best lip control or mechanics” … the list goes on and on as to what the criteria may be.

I was once asked by a beginner vent where he could find a puppet “as funny as Jeff Dunham’s Peanut.”

I had to break the news to him that it was Jeff’s talent that made the puppets come to life.  Jeff could take the most meager puppet and breathe life into it. 

While an attractive puppet helps in the presentation of the act, it isn’t the total performance.  Many things go into a successful show like acting, voices, comedy material , in short, it’s a total package.

The real secret is hard work.  Working on all the things that makes a great performance is the key to success.

Professional vent Taylor Mason had the best answer to this question of “World’s Best” I think I have ever heard.  He said “You only have to be the BEST ventriloquist at that venue at that moment … period!”

There is no competition, no comparing, just be the absolute best vent at that moment giving your audience the BEST you have to offer  He is spot on with his advice.

Performing should be fun and not stressful.  YOU are the only ventriloquist at that venue, so let your vent light shine and show them you are the BEST.  You’ll be happy , and more importantly, your audience will be happy as well.. 

Now go out and be the “World’s Best” at your next show.

Today’s guest blogger is Mark Wade. For more information or to contact Mark, you may email him at: kidshowvent@gmail.com
CHUCK LYONS, the life of the party

CHUCK LYONS, the life of the party


Ventriloquist Chuck Lyons happily spends his semi-retirement performing.

“I truly love this art, and enjoyed many benefits from it. The people I’ve met, lifelong friendships I’ve made, but most of all smiles I’ve been able to give to my audiences. It is truly been a journey of love.”

Born in 1956 in Channahon Illinois, and immersed in children’s programming and puppetry early via television and his mother taking him to see the Cole Marionettes.

At age 7 he received a Danny O’Day figure and Jimmy Nelson’s Learn Ventriloquism album. Chuck practiced daily.

At age 12 his father took him to a Lions Club dinner where he saw Danny Ford perform. Afterwards, Mr Ford told him of the Maher course and how to find a professional figure from Finis, a maker of ventriloquist dummies. Chuck names Danny Ford as his first mentor.

Taking the Maher correspondence course, by age 16 Church earned enough doing shows to buy his first professional dummy. Chuck still owns the Finis figure named Larry the Second.

Chuck eagerly awaited the monthly Newsy Vents, beloved newsletter that it was, and longed to attend the ConVENTion.

Chuck gained his second mentor when he met Clinton Detweiler at a Fellowship of Christian Magicians Convention.

Attending Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois, Chuck earned a BA in Theater and Public Speaking. This was a wonderful time of honing his skills as a Ventriloquist, and writing, producing and performing stage shows for college credit.

 Upon graduation, Chuck performed at any event to showcase his art and support his young family.

 Working for Robotronics, Chuck sold robots and educational materials to fire, EMS, and police departments country wide. He introduced the use of magic and puppetry to spread fire and police safety education to children, often using his ventriloquist skills.

Chuck spent 20 years as a Fire Prevention Officer, using ventriloquism to spread the message of fire safety with his local fire department, and winning several awards for his excellent work.

Leaving marketing, Chuck returned to college and became a licensed embalmer and funeral director and in 2013 attended his first ConVENTion.

At the ConVENTion he met Jimmy Nelson, Mark Wade, Ken Groves, and Tom Crowl, and many many other ventriloquists he had admired for many years and he gained lifelong friends.

The sale of the funeral home where he worked propelled him into semi- retirement and back into his beloved ventriloquism.


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

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15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism

15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism

I was challenged to write 15 things I love about ventriloquism. So, here is my list!

1. Ventriloquism is fun.

Anyone who does it can attest to that!

2. Ventriloquism is a challenge.

To perform ventriloquism correctly is challenging.

I remember the countless hours I spent practicing the labials, puppet movement and routines. And that was just yesterday …

Every day it is a challenge to maintain my skills.

3. Ventriloquism makes me think.

I get to exercise my brain.

  • I think of ways to split or separate myself from the character.
  • I think about comedy material.
  • I need to remember voices, scripts and lines.
  • And so much more …

4. Ventriloquism has an amazing community.

Some of my best friends are ventriloquists.

I get to interact with vents from around the world.

Other than the few odd balls that are in any artform, ventriloquists are kind, friendly and all around great folks!

5. Ventriloquism makes me laugh.

When I get to talk to other ventriloquists, I usually end up laughing.

When I do shows, I usually laugh right along with the audience. Laughter is infectous.

6. Ventriloquism allows me to get paid for doing what I love.

Doing shows puts food on my table and money in my bank account.

In today’s world, so many people just exist.

It is wonderful to have a passion I have managed to turn into a career.

7. People appreciate me.

Very few jobs exist where, when finished, people will stand up and applaud you.

Or come over and tell you how amazing you are.

The audiences appreciate the feeling I give them onstage. Just as I am sure your audiences appreciate you.

8. Clients appreciate me.

When the audience is happy, the client is usually happy.

There is nothing like doing a job and getting an amazing reference quote (and a nice check) from your client. (Except for when they actually reach out to their collegues about hiring you.)

9. Ventriloquism is popular.

Right now we are riding a wave of popularity thanks to artists like Darci Lynne, Terry Fator & Jeff Dunham.

By keeping ventriloquism in the public eye, it is a boost for all of us.

10. Ventriloquism allows me to be creative.

From designing a character to creating materials and building shows, being creative is one of my favorite things.

It is an adrenaline rush when you are creating something from nothing!

11. Ventriloquism allows me to play.

I can watch cartoons to come up with ideas for voices.

I can play with my puppets.

I can act goofy to spur my creativity.

12. Ventriloquism allows me to travel.

Although I sometimes get sick of being on the road, ventriloquism has taken me some pretty amazing places.

Sure, I see a lot of airports, hotel rooms and banquet rooms, but I still get to enjoy places when I can.

Plus the funds I earn from performing allow me to go places when I am not!

13. Ventriloquism is educational.

I love to learn. Maybe that goes with making me think, which I listed above, but I am constantly learning new things about this art.

Creating the Ventriloquist Hall of Fame taught me a lot about those masters.

Everytime I crack open the Maher Course of Ventriloquism I pick up a nugget of knowledge I missed, or had forgotten.

The I.V.S. has been as educational for me too. (And I hope you are a member and it will be on your list too!)

14. Ventriloquism offers opportunities.

I’ve had the blessing of working with some major stars and I’ve gotten to know some incredible people. All because I happen to play with a puppet.

15. Ventriloquism offered me a chance to be a part of something bigger.

I had no clue when I walked into my first Vent Haven ConVENTion that one day I would be one of Mark Wade’s trusted advisors.

Today, Mark bounces ideas off of me and we talk about the conVENTion almost daily.

The conVENTion is the marquee event of the ventriloquism world. It raises funds to help cover costs of operating the Vent Haven Museum.

And it touches the lives and careers of so many in the art.

Even though I am just one small cog in the wheel, I am proud to be a part of this amazing part of ventriloquism’s history.

So there you have it, 15 Things I Love About Ventriloquism.

What are the things you love about ventriloquism?

Let me know in the comments below!

Polyphony, Imitations & Sound Effects

Polyphony, Imitations & Sound Effects

At one time, polyphony, imitations and sound effects were closely associated with the art of ventriloquism.

No doubt because like ventriloquism, they were an illusion of the voice. In fact, distant ventriloquism is a cross of imitation and sound effect.

Many entertainers lumped the three together under polyphony, but according to the official definition, that is not correct usage.

The Maher Course of Ventriloquism, Lesson 25, touched briefly upon this subject. It is worthy of a read, although the art truly needs a more indepth study.

I was first exposed to this art (and done properly, it is an art) in the late 1990’s. I was hired as a magician to work a banquet with two other acts: Ventriloquist Jim Teeter and Wes Harrison, known as Mr. Sound Effects.

Wes had appeared on every major talk and variety show on television. Both in the U.S. and overseas. His comedy act played the famous Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris. He even created sound effects for movies.

All using only his voice.

Wes had a hilarious act. He told stories with sound effects. I’m happy to be able to share some of these – take your time to listen/watch. You will be glad you did.

In 1984, the movie Police Academy featured comedian Michael Winslow who was also a master of the sound effect.

Winslow went on to have a successful career, appearing in all 7 Police Academy films, other movies, television and touring comedy clubs.

Today, you seldom see entertainers performing sound effects. Although a close relative is the Beatbox musician.

In the ventriloquism community, Philip Jones and Gary Owen are two of the only sound effects guys I know about.

Occasionally the Vent Haven ConVENTion would host a lecture on this topic, but it has been a few years. I’m not familiar with any other ways to learn, other than listen and mimic.

With the rarity of seeing this, it may be worthy of study by someone looking for a unique angle to their act.

Just a thought …

Do you do sound effects? Do you know a way to learn? Share your insights in the comments below:

Creating Your Trademark

Creating Your Trademark

For years, people would ask me, do you know that ventriloquist on TV with the purple puppet?

It wasn’t, do you know Jeff Dunham. No one could even remember his name. And he was pretty famous.

Now, you say his name and a large portion of the crowd shake their head with familiarity. This is because Jeff has created a trademark.

People don’t grab a soda. They buy a Coke. Or a Pepsi, a Mountain Dew, a Sprite or Dr. Pepper. (We could keep going … )

You don’t grab fast food. You get McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, White Castle, or Dominos.

You need to blow your nose? You probably use a Kleenex instead of a tissue. That is one brand that almost lost control of their name because it became so synonymous with the product.
Entertainers also have brands. You’ve got Madonna, Cher and Jlo. There are thousands of examples.

When you have a brand, you become a known commodity. People are familiar with you, and they tend to do business with brands they know and trust.

You don’t need a global brand. You can create a brand in your area.

A problem is, most people have no idea how to create a brand.

Some don’t even know what it is.

How did Jeff become memorable?

Simple – he was unique and different.

His name became well known because of a comedy bit he did with his character Peanut. Do you remember:

Jeff – fa – fa … DUN HAM dot Com!

A lot of people do. That was years back, and people still refer to it. It branded Jeff’s name and made him memorable.

This was followed up with Achmed the Dead Terrorist.

Again, different and memorable. Plus it helped that Jeff gave Achmed a catchphrase.

“I Keel You” was everywhere. And it made Jeff an international star.

Other ventriloquists have also achieved fame with trademarks. Who do you think of when you read or hear:

N – E – S – T – L – E – S, Nestles’ makes the very best …

You better have said Jimmy Nelson. If not, you have two options – turn in your vent card or go study your ventriloquism history.

Does anyone remember the cover band AC-DShee? No, but the band AC/DC has a following.

You can’t achieve anything by copying others.

If you want to be a ventriloquist – you need to become an entertainer. Audiences want to be entertained. And entertainers are creative people.

There is only one you. So be you. And be the best and most creative you that you can be.

Being different makes you memorable. Hopefully in a good way.

Becoming memorable builds your brand.

Use your creativity and find a way to stand apart from the crowd.

It isn’t easy, so get to work!

What Attracted You To Ventriloquism? – IVS Radio Episode

This podcast is an I.V.S. Member exclusive. Today, Ken Groves and I discuss what drew us to the art of ventriloquism. While we discovered it in different ways, there was one aspect that was the same. Today, we discuss how we were pulled in and our thoughts behind the art as a tool for comedy.

What Attracted You To Ventriloquism

by Maher I.V.S. Radio

Don’t have time to listen here? Download this episode to your computer, tablet or phone and listen on the go!


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Take a moment to leave a note and share your thoughts in the comment section below:
Ventriloquism – A Self Taught Art?

Ventriloquism – A Self Taught Art?

I’ve heard it said that ventriloquism is a self taught art.


Can you just sit in front of a mirror, practice and become a ventriloquist?

You mean there is no need for a course? No need for a book?

Sure, there are plenty of free online ventriloquism lessons.

Can you learn it all from one free source? Or even several free sources?

And if you do need a book or a course, can one really provide all the information you will need to be self-taught?

People have told me, Jeff Dunham was self-taught. He used the Jimmy Nelson album.

But Jeff also attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion. He learned first hand from the likes of Jimmy and other famous ventriloquists of the day.

Terry Fator was self taught. Yes, but even Terry had mentors in the world of ventriloquism. Plus he had coaches who worked with him on audience eye-contact and staging. (This is included in his interview at: Discussions On Showmanship.)

Darci Lynne was self taught according to America’s Got Talent. While Darci did learn the basics on her own, she also received coaching from both Gary Owen and Terry Fator.

So in reality, ventriloquism is NOT a self taught art.

While you can learn the basics from free tutorials, or books, videos or courses, it requires help if you want to perfect your technique.

I’m not talking about just lip control or labials either.

There is so much more to the art than just talking without moving your lips.

Each year, the Vent Haven ConVENTion gets approximately 100 first time attendees. Many of these folks have never hung out with other ventriloquists.

The conVENTion is an eye-opener. They quickly discover there are all levels of ventriloquists.

From the beginner who doesn’t even understand the basics to the pro who’s puppet comes to life.

Many discover they are not as good as they thought. Others discover they are higher on the scale than they imagined. Although they still have a way to go.

The problem with self-taught is, the student doesn’t know what they don’t know.

The student doesn’t know what to look for. They can’t see or hear themself as an audience does.

And before anyone cries, “what about video?” some people don’t know how to watch the performance to pick up on tiny things that can make major improvements.

All the knowledge in the world will not help if you do not put it into practice. Lots of practice.

Oh, and you have to practice too. Did I mention you have to practice?

See the pattern?

Practice is something you must do. No one can help you there.

But becoming a self-taught ventriloquist is closing yourself off to the infinite knowledge of those who went before you.

Don't learn in a vacuum

Don’t learn in a vacuum.

Quotes & Tips From Around The Web That Apply To This Subject:

One of the biggest frustrations I find working in the field of art is that everyone’s an expert.

Practice Your Art Everyday In Some Way

Find Teachers/Mentors/Study Programs To Help You Master Your Skills

Professional Puppets & Ventriloquist Figures

Professional Puppets & Ventriloquist Figures

Professional Puppets & Ventriloquist Figures

Today I want to answer some questions I get from beginners regarding professional puppets & ventriloquist figures:

“Do I need a professional puppet?”

“I want a really funny puppet, where can I get one?”

“What type of puppet should I use?”

“Where can I buy a professional puppet?”

These are not dumb questions. A lot of beginners stress over selecting their first puppet.

Some of you may know the answers.

Some of you may think your know the answers.

Others of you may be curious.

And some who should know better, still have no clue.

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Let’s start with:

“Do I need a professional puppet?”


If you are starting, you need to learn the skills. You need to learn how to entertain an audience. But you do not need a professional puppet.

I’ve seen Ronn Lucas pull a sock off his foot and entertain an audience for 15 to 20 minutes with it.

I’ve seen other ventriloquists pull out a tennis ball and have their audience laughing hysterically.

The quality of your puppet has nothing to do with the entertainment value of your act.

A professional puppet doesn’t improve your skill.

Just because you have a professional puppet doesn’t mean you are good.

And if you aren’t good – you’ve wasted your money unless you like dust collectors.

This brings us to:

“I want a really funny puppet, where can I get one?”

No puppet is funny.

I’ve never had a puppet tell me a joke.

They just sit there until you put them on your hand and manipulate them.

Just because you have a funny looking puppet, doesn’t mean it will be funny.

Just as:

A Professional Puppet Will Not Improve Your Skill
A Funny Puppet Will Not Improve Your Comedy.

I have a professional ventriloquist friend who is constantly looking for his next figure. The character that will take his career through the roof.

He’s bought a bunch. They don’t work out, and he sells them. Usually for less than he paid for them.

Why? It wasn’t the right character.

I’ve told this friend time and again, it is NOT the puppet.

“I know that!” he replies, “but when I get the right puppet the audiences will go wild. Look what Achmed did for Jeff!”

Here is the problem with that my friends:

Achmed is a character – not just a puppet.

Jeff didn’t just see a skeleton puppet and it started saying funny things.

Jeff created Achmed. (Actually he started with Dead Osama.)

He started with an idea and built it into a character.

That character was tested in front of audiences for years before it appeared on his TV special.

And my friend KNOWS that. Still, he is infatuated with the idea that the next puppet may be his big break.

So I will say it again –

It Is Not The Puppet
It Is What You, As The Ventriloquist Do With It!

This leads us to:

“What type of puppet should I use?”

I have no idea.

That is a personal decision.

You can use:

  • A sock puppet. (Shari Lewis built a career with one.)
  • A tennis ball.
  • An oven mitt.
  • A toy puppet.
  • An animal puppet.
  • A person puppet.
  • A “thing” puppet.

It can be a hard figure – or a soft puppet.

Before you buy a puppet …

Create a character first.

Think about what type of character you want to create.

Will it be:

  • A smart aleck?
  • A tough guy?
  • A wimpy/nervous/scared personality?
  • A baby?
  • A senior?

Think about the voice. Think about what it will do. Think about what it likes or doesn’t like.

The International Ventriloquist Society has a free Character Profile WorkBook and lesson here on the website.

The time you put in creating your character BEFORE you make, shop for or purchase a puppet, will save you time, money and frustration.

Finally, if you go through the above steps:
You have learned the skill.
You have learned to entertain.
You have created a profile,
and you are still looking for a professional puppet or ventriloquist figure …

We have a page of links to some of the best ventriloquist puppet and figure makers around. Just click here to visit!

IVS Radio – The Backup Plan

IVS Radio – The Backup Plan

IVS Radio is exclusively for IVS Members!

Today my good friend Ken Groves is my guest and we have a very interesting discussion about backup plans. With the changing entertainment market, there are a bunch of entertainers who are having trouble finding work. Ken tells us about his backup plan and makes us think about having one of our own.

If you are a pro, this is a must listen episode. If you are a hobbyist, it is a very insight look into the world of professional entertainers.

The Backup Plan with guest Ken Groves

by Maher I.V.S. Radio

Don’t have time to listen now? Download this episode to your computer, tablet or phone and listen on the go!


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Take a moment to leave a note and share your thoughts in the comment section below: