What a Bunch of Dummies


It isn’t entirely what you think. Okay, it is close, but not exactly. A convention of ventriloquists is a bit surreal, but is also a lot of fun.

Since a Christmas morning at the age of 8 years old, I have practiced the art of ventriloquism. You might question the term art being used to describe this form of entertainment and not many people would argue with you. I would.

Ventriloquists combine many performance art forms into every show. We use acting, movement, illusion, comedy and characterization in a way that makes you believe two people are having a conversation. Done well, ventriloquism, delights audiences. Done poorly, ventriloquism receives the show business hack reputation it has received.

Ventriloquism has enjoyed periods of popularity and we are in one right now. Jeff Dunham is selling out arenas around the USA, Europe and Australia. America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator has his own show room in Vegas. Jay Johnson (Chuck and Bob from the TV show Soap) won an Emmy for his Broadway show. British ventriloquist Nina Conti had been popping up all over the place including a spot on Ellen (Degeneres).

If you can go to a meeting for your chosen vocation, why can’t a ventriloquist? Instead of the latest sales techniques, technology development of tax law seminar, ventriloquists will be at a Marriott hotel in Greater Cincinnati learning about lip control, dummy maintenance and comedy writing. The trade show floor features, well, dummies as well as other performance enhancing items (not the same as a pharmaceutical conference.)

This weekend while you sweat in the hot weather, I will be in a darkened hotel conference room learning how to move a puppet.

In the end, you win. We are working to produce better ventriloquists, maybe even the next Jeff Dunham. And while insurance people down the hall hear another lecture about annuities, I will be laughing with my friends. Times two.

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