Vanish Magic Magazine Vanish magazine 38 - Page 88

ALLIED ARTS ventriloquist TO BE OR NOT TO BE BY BOB ABDOU My name is Bob Abdou and I’m a ventriloquist. I’m also a puppeteer. I live in both worlds – the world of strings, hands, rods, and fine artistic expression and the world of dummies, lip control and funny jokes. To the outside world, puppeteers and ventriloquists do the same thing: we both make inanimate objects come to life. But to those of us in the field, there is a world of difference S ome years ago the Puppeteers of America asked me to promote their national festival in Atlanta to the ventriloquist community. I couldn’t do it. Why? The Puppeteers festival was scheduled on the same week as the Ventriloquist convention in Ft. Mitchell Kentucky! I wish I could attend both. I live in both worlds, but I have to admit that my heart is in the world of dummies, lip control and funny jokes. As the current consultant for ventriloquism to the Puppeteers of America, I wanted to write this article to tell you about some of the differences that I have noticed between puppeteers and ventriloquists. I want to reveal what’s in the mind of the ventriloquist and to let you all know that— even though we might seem “in-your- face”—we’re okay people. I’ll share just a couple of things I’ve observed being a part of the ventriloquist community for the last 24 years. There are always exceptions to the rules, and keep in mind that these opinions are mine and the thoughts reflected in this article do not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of all ventriloquists or the ventriloquist 88 VANISH Magazine community at large. With the legal disclaimers over, let’s begin. T esting : O ne , T wo , T hree Ventriloquists are hams. Give a ventriloquist a puppet and they will perform. A vent (we call ourselves “vents”) without a puppet might be quiet or even introverted, but given the opportunity and an audience (anyone with a pulse), any time is a good time for a show. Whether they’re in a restaurant, hotel lobby or doctor’s office, the show could go on. I know a vent that was thinking about performing at a funeral, and would have if we didn't tell her to reconsider! I’ve found the opposite is true for puppeteers. Puppeteers tend to be more reserved when it comes to performing. It has to be the right time and the right place, especially if a show needs a stage set up and lighting. I will never forget my first experience at a special puppet festival at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. I was walking around with one of my puppets, chit-chatting with the crowd. This is a very, very common occurrence at a ventriloquist convention, but no one else was doing it at the puppet festival. I asked another puppeteer where everyone else’s puppet was. He told me that for the most part, puppet shows are theme-driven and need a stage so puppet people don’t walk around performing willy-nilly. Wow, that hit me like a ton of twelve-inch foam! As ventriloquists, we love showing off our puppets and our skills, and we love to make people laugh without a stage, no matter where, no matter when. Puppeteers are more structured when it comes to performing. They show off their puppets, skills and create laughter at the proper place and the proper time. M eet your M aker When two or more vents meet and talk about our "dummy" partners, the first question we ask is "Who made it?” For the most part, ventriloquists do not make their own dummies. There are two distinct