Puppetry and Ventriloquism

Ventriloquism is to Puppetry as Square is to Rectangle.  A Ventriloquist IS a puppeteer, but not all puppeteers are ventriloquists.

I am irked when ventriloquism and puppetry are separated out as if they were two different things. They are not. The misunderstanding comes from the time when the popular ventriloquists of the day used the hard figure or ventriloquist dummy exclusively, but ventriloquism is not limited to the use of these traditional style instruments. Shari Lewis’ Lambchop is a ventriloquist figure but is not a hard figure.

These days ventriloquists talk of hard figures and soft figures to differentiate between the types of puppets used by ventriloquists.

ANY puppet that is speaking and the voice is coming from a visible person who is not moving their lips and thus creating the illusion that the puppet is doing the talking IS a ventriloquist figure.

The puppeteer doing the voices in plain sight of the audience is a ventriloquist whether that puppet is the familiar dummy or a soft sock puppet.

Jim Henson was a great puppeteer, but he was not a ventriloquist.

Shari Lewis was a great ventriloquist who used hand puppets in place of the hard figure (I wish the American Heritage Girls would correct that part of their puppetry badge!).

I’ve delighted in puppets from childhood–who has not? In college I did more with puppets for use in education and found myself longing to be able to do ventriloquism. Years passed without puppets, until last fall when I suddenly got the wild hair to take an online class in ventriloquism.

The inspiration to pick up a puppet again is largely the result of being inspired by Habitica to revive dreams.


Dear Lord, thank You for puppets of every imaginable kind, and thank you for puppeteers and ventriloquists and classes. +Amen.

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