Vanish Magic Magazine Vanish magazine 38 - Page 90

groups: performers and makers. We have separate roles, but we go to the same conventions and we know each other well. Now with the internet, there seems to be more vents making their own dummies, but this is not yet the norm. If it is a traditional dummy with a control stick, we can almost guess the maker by their certain look: Marshall, Turner, Brown, Coats, Boley, Spencer, Robinson, Maher (the list goes on and on)…these are names that are part of most ventriloquist’s conversations. the audience. The vent is one of the characters on stage and the dummy is the other. Since the vent talks for the dummy, the moving mouth increases the illusion that the dummy is alive. The moving mouth and manipulation moves the viewer’s attention to the dummy. Puppeteers are usually out of sight during their performances so it’s not as important. The figure makers depend on the performers to use their creations and the performers depend on the figure makers for their partners. And if a dummy breaks, we have to send it back to certain figure makers for repair. I confess, when I saw parts of the Broadway show "Avenue Q" I was confused and found it hard to focus on the show. It wasn’t just because there were half-body puppets floating in the air or because you could see the puppeteers (who weren’t really characters in the show.) I was distracted because the puppeteers lips were moving a lot! One of the illusions of ventriloquism is lip control or talking without moving your lips. Some don’t do it perfectly, but all vents will at least make the effort to control their movement somewhat. On the other hand, most puppeteers make their own puppets. The creation of the puppets and the stage, lavish costumes, lighting, sound and effects is almost part of the performance. The performance is the last step: they design, sculpt, mold, sand, sew, glue, solder, drill, paint, then perform. Shut Your Mouth Want to drive a ventriloquist crazy? Give them a puppet without a moving mouth. There are exceptions—some famous ventriloquist have acts with puppets whose mouths didn’t move, but most need that moving mouth. A ventriloquist’s act is mostly done in dialogue, with the vent and the dummy in full view of 90 VANISH Magazine www.VanishMagazine.com Read My Lips Okay, Edgar Bergen moved his lips a lot, but all the time he spent on radio took its toll. (Incidentally, at the end of his career, Edgar Bergen was performing in Las Vegas and a heckler said to him "Hey, you're lips are moving, Paul Winchell's lips don't move!” Bergen replied "Yeah, but Paul Winchell doesn't have millions in the bank!”) Bergen said that he wanted the millions listening on the radio to be able to understand him clearly, rather than impress the 100 sitting in the studio. In the vent world, the debate goes on. Is it more important to have perfect lip control or to