troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesLaconic
Main

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Ventriloquism
"Who're you callin' "Dummy", Dummy?"
Scarface, Batman

A ventriloquist is someone who can "throw his voice", making it appear that it comes from somewhere else (in most cases, the mouth of his dummy), while his own mouth isn't moving. Sometimes they also can imitate voices, sometimes not. Some media acknowledge that it is very hard to pronounce some letters like 'b' that way (hence the "gottle of geer" joke), others don't care. In comedies, a trickster character may use this to fool another character (preferably The Brute).

Ventriloquist dummies are often considered creepy due to their Uncanny Valley qualities ("autonomatonophobia" is the technical term for fear of one) and are often used in horror or horror parody. It's very common for there be a scene where the ventriloquist leaves the room and his dummy starts talking on its own.

Super Trope to Demonic Dummy, which covers animated/evil ventriloquist's dummies.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Several characters use ventriloquism for various reasons in Ranma 1/2. For example, Ranma has done Akane's voice to mess with Ryoga, Ryoga's voice to mess with Akane, Tatewaki Kuno's voice because Tatewaki refused to apologize Kodachi and it was causing Ranma problems. Shampoo impersonated Akane's voice to get her waterproof soap back from Ryoga.
  • Conan from Detective Conan uses a bow tie created by his professor friend to imitate people's voices when solving cases. For some reason, nobody ever seems to notice those voices are actually coming from behind the person's chair (or from a micro-speaker on his clothing or occasionally his forehead).
  • Kereellis from The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, who may just be an incredibly good ventriloquism act of Yata's or (as he claims) a genuine space alien that is channeled into the hand puppet.
  • Rob Lucci, The Dragon in the Water 7 and Enies Lobby arcs of One Piece, goes undercover in the Galley-La shipwrights' company as a stoic ship-builder who utilizes ventriloquism to talk through his pet pigeon Hattori. Once he's revealed to be a member of the Cipher Pol 9 agents' unit, he ditches this act and shows himself capable of normal speech.

    Comic Books 
  • The Ventriloquist is a Batman villain (who has also appeared in Batman: The Animated Series) with a split personality who delivers his orders through his doll, Scarface. Scarface is notoriously incapable of pronouncing the letter B and instead uses "G", but in animated adaptations, this was considered too weird. (If correct.)
    • Interestingly, the "Scarface" personality is the outwardly villainous one, and he frequently bullies the Ventriloquist. If the Scarface dummy is destroyed, then the Ventriloquist will appear cured until he builds another dummy.
      • This led to a Mythology Gag in the Justice League episode "A Better World": In an alternate universe ruled by Knight Templar versions of the League, Batman's Rogues Gallery was lobotomized via Superman's heat vision. The Ventriloquist briefly appears, and his Scarface dummy has the lobotomy marks instead of him.
  • Superman notoriously had super-ventriloquism as one of his powers.
  • MAD had the short-lived strip "Ventriloquist Priest" by Duck Edwing.
  • Robin Dubois once used this to fool the sheriff into kissing a toad which "said" it really was an enchanted princess.

    Film 
  • Magic.
  • In Broadway Danny Rose, one of the acts managed by struggling theatrical agent Danny Rose is a stuttering ventriloquist.
  • Take the Money and Run has a brief background gag of a prison inmate holding a ventriloquist's dummy and taking through a glass screen to a visitor, who also holds a dummy.
  • The Great Gabbo was an early sound film. The movie follows a brilliant ventriloquist "The Great Gabbo" who, as he spirals down into madness, increasingly uses his dummy "Otto" as his only means of self-expression — an artist driven insane by his work. Gabbo's gimmick is his astonishing ability to make Otto talk — and even sing — while Gabbo himself smokes, drinks and eats.
  • Dummy is a little-known romantic comedy starring Adrien Brody. He plays a "lovable loser... who finds his inner voice through ventriloquism." The DVD includes commentary by ventriloquist/comic Jeff Dunham as well as a tutorial in ventriloquism.
  • Hawkhead has one in Rocket Boy. It just loves to talk while Hawkhead is drinking a glass of water.
  • Dead of Night features a schizophrenic ventriloquist who ends up in the madhouse.

    Jokes 
  • A ventriloquist is telling Dumb Blonde jokes. Lots and lots. Then, a blonde woman in the room jumps up and shouts:
    Blonde: "I've got enough of these insults! Blonde women like me aren't like that! That's just a stupid cliche, and you're simply an asshole!"
    Ventriloquist: "I'm very sorry lady, I didn't want to insult you, and let me assure you, I have nothing at all aginst blondes, and of course I know that blondes in Real Life aren't dumb like that -"
    Dumb Blonde: "I'm not talking with you, I'm talking with that little dirtbag sitting on your lap!"

    Literature 
  • In Problem at Sea, an Agatha Christie short story, Hercule Poirot discovers that the murderer had faked an alibi using ventriloquism. He killed his wife, then talked to her from outside the closed door of the room and projected her voice coming from the inside, then left in the company of other people.
  • On the Disc, there's Agnes, whose manifesting witch powers in Maskerade give her the ability to throw her voice (really throw it, not just the usual illusion) and harmonize with herself.
    • The phrase "gottle of geer" is used a couple of times in the Discworld novels. In The Truth, Foul Ole Ron says it in a scene where he's effectively (though not technically) being used as a ventriloquist's dummy - it's actually his dog talking, at least whenever he seems to make sense, but everyone knows dogs can't talk. Of course, the "gottle o' geer" part could be Ron himself talking, as it makes about as much sense as most of his lines. Otherwise, it's Gaspode lampshading. Elsewhere in the same book, when a stable boy hears Gaspode, he claims to be another stable boy throwing his voice.
  • Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland, one of the earliest American novels, features as an antagonist the mysterious Carwin the Biloquist, whose ability to throw his voice creates confusion for the characters.
  • In the original The Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux, the Persian declares that Erik is the best ventriloquist in the whole world. He must be, because he uses this skill to do a lot of PracticalJokes, including convincing Opera Singer Carlotta (an all the Opera’s audience) that she croaked lie a toad. Also he uses it to convince people he is a real ghost, because they hear his voice clearly, but don’t see anyone.

    Live Action TV 
  • Averted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Puppet Show". What seems to be awesome ventriloquism at first is later revealed to be a living puppet that's actually talking. The audience can see it coming from a mile away, though, because when the ventriloquist tries his act at the beginning of the episode he's terrible, and then suddenly he becomes able to perfectly throw his voice and the dummy starts acting and moving very realistically as if it's alive..... The characters themselves don't notice it, though.
  • Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, guesting on The Muppet Show:
    Edgar Bergen: Oh, you don't know what you're saying.
    Charlie McCarthy: Yes I do, Bergen. I can read your lips.
    • The same episode has Fozzie attempt a ventriloquism routine. Unfortunately, he hasn't grasped that he's supposed to talk for the dummy, and gets angry when it won't answer him. (And then after he's left the stage, it does.)
  • Burt's son Chuck & Bob Campbell (played by Jay Johnson) in Soap was a ventriloquist. In the same series the character Bert attempts ventriloquism when he tries to convince people he has been turned invisible by aliens.
  • Howdy Doody
  • In one episode of Green Wing Sue White gets a dummy, which insults everybody around her and she swears blind it's got nothing to do with her even though (as Caroline points out) they can see her moving her lips. When Sue breaks into Holly's locker, the dummy is sitting on a bench and tells her "she shouldn't do that". Sue argues with it before stuffing it in the locket.
  • One skit in Morecambe and Wise had Eric have a giant dummy that he couldn't operate properly due to the size.
  • One episode of 8 Simple Rules had Rory with a dummy that he had be given by the school psychologist to help with his "issues" so it was generally rude and insulting. It turned out that he had just found it and wanted to play with it.
  • On Square One TV, there was a Mathnet episode in which a ventriloquist had gone catatonic, and could talk only through his dummy.
  • Neal tries his hand at this in the Freaks and Geeks episode "Noshing and Moshing".
  • An episode of Night Court had a visiting ventriloquist who annoyingly talked without moving his lips, even though he didn't currently have a dummy. He was finally inspired to create one based on the bailiff Bull.
  • G.O.B.'s character in Arrested Development has a ventriloquist dummy, Franklin Delano Bluth.
  • Alan on Two and a Half Men uses a dummy, much to everyone's dismay.
  • The syndicated early-'90s sitcom What a Dummy centered around a wisecracking "live" dummy that was willed to a family by a dying ventriloquist uncle.
  • The Murder, She Wrote episode "Where Have You Gone, Billy Boy?" has the trope of the cripplingly shy ventriloquist whose dummy does his talking for him, without making it a Demonic Dummy.
  • Episode "Belly Speaker" of Murdoch Mysteries had a murder suspect capable of ventriloquism. His Demonic Dummy was super creepy.
  • In an episode of I Love Lucy Lucy has to convince someone that Lawrence Welk was in the room, so she crouches behind a Madam Trussard's wax Welk seated at the table and says his catchphrase, "Wonderful, wonderful." Thuen, unbenknownst to Lucy, the real Lawrence Welk shows up and sits at the same place.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Far Side strip featured a ventriloquist in the Old West having his arm patched up by a doctor, who is saying something along the lines of "Well, you're gonna be OK, but I can't say the same for your little friend there; 'course, I hear he was the one who mouthed off to those gunfighters in the first place." Sitting nearby is the ventriloquist's dummy, riddled with bullet-holes.
    • A different one has a man swimming onto a "Far Side" Island, where he is greeted by a cheerful ventriloquist... and his panicking dummy, who desperately tries to warn the newcomer of his ventriloquist's cannibalistic tendencies.

    Radio 
  • The Chase and Sanborn Hour, featuring Edgar Bergen and his dummies such as Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, was one of the most popular programs during the golden age of radio. That's right, ventriloquism on radio!
    • Lampshaded in Woody Allen's Radio Days:
      Abe: He's a ventriloquist on the radio! How do you know he's not moving his lips?
    • Of course, since it's also about making believable characters, the fact he could get away with it on a non-visual medium (after being the talk of New York and doing several short movies) is a sign of just how good Bergen was.
    • Purportedly, one radio exec, after hearing about signing Bergen, said "He'd better be damn funny!"
    • Rudy Vallee, who gave Bergen his big break, commented on-air "People have been asking me why I put a ventriloquist on the air. The answer is, 'why not?'" Bergen's success had never depended on his technical ability, which was not actually that good (his lips move pretty obviously, which Charlie Lampshades now and then), but on his comic ability and timing - both of which were excellent. Listeners didn't care that they couldn't see him, just that they were laughing.
  • Educating Archie with Peter Brough and Archie Andrews (no relation) was the UK equivalent.
    • Of course, the main thing about ventriloquism is that the vent's lips don't appear to move when the dummy is supposed to be talking. Peter Brough's years on radio meant that he'd forgotten that, and when the show moved to TV ...

    Real Life 
  • The Real Life list of notable ventriloquists includes the aforementioned Edgar Bergen, Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator (the winner of Season 2 of America's Got Talent), Ronn Lucas, Shari Lewis, David Strassman, Willie Tyler, Señor Wences and Paul Winchell.
  • Ventriloquists who are notable in Britain include Peter Brough, Ray Allen, Roger de Courcy, Keith Harris and Nina Conti.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons had the Ventriloquism wizard spell, which allowed the caster to throw his voice.

    Theater 
  • In the musical Chicago, Billy Flynn and Roxie Hart do a number with Roxie on Billy's lap as the dummy and Billy as the ventriloquist.
  • In Nunsense, Sister Mary Amnesia does a ventriloquist act with a dummy called Sister Mary Annette, who in a song about the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that all nuns take, adds lyrics that a proper nun would not say. (When Sister Mary Amnesia is singing about the vow of chastity, the dummy adds, "You can't screw around!")

    Video Games 
  • After picking up a ventriloquist instruction book in The Curse of Monkey Island, you can do this to virtually every NPC you come across, for additional gags.
  • For most games, especially horror genred, can have an audio clip play and make it seem like it's coming out of nowhere. Or right behind the player.
    • It's not uncommon for a game to have a few lines of dialogue and it sounds odd compared to the distance of another charatcer. An example: Player 1 is moving way infront of Player 2 but when Player 1's character talks, for Player 2 it sounds like Player 1 is right nearby.
  • The second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game has a witness named Ben and his puppet Trilo Quist.
  • In Sam & Max: Freelance Police Season 3, Episodes 2 and 4, you come across one of the Toys of Power, a creepy ventriloquism doll named Charlie Ho Tep. You can use him to throw your voice, for the purposes of advancing the plot and also just for laughs.
  • One of the Dragon Shouts that the player can learn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is "Throw Voice". It's purpose is to distract enemies while sneaking.
  • [Honk!] One's made of skin, one's made of wood, so [Honk Honk!] Who's The Dummy? "Not Neeeee!"

    Web Comics 
  • The title character of Max Overacts frequently interacts with various puppets, most notably Curio, his actual ventriloquist dummy.

    Western Animation 
  • Beetlejuice got tired of the obviously bad Ventriloquism, and decided to possess the doll to make it more interesting.
  • Seen in several cartoons, e.g., "Ventriloquist Cat" by Tex Avery.
  • Garfield and Friends had an episode with an alien that looked like a ventriloquist's dummy, and was sold to Jon for an act of his. He didn't reckon on being exposed to the major weakness of his species: Cartoon termites.
  • The 1960s Spider-Man cartoon had Spidey using ventriloquism to beat a team-up among the Green Goblin, Electro, Vulture and Dr. Noah Boddy by imitating their voices and making them fight each other.
  • In one episode of Doug, Doug enters the talent show with a ventriloquism act, while his friend Skeeter plans to play the ocarina. Of course, disaster happens, Skeeter's ocarina is swallowed by Roger's cat, and Doug's puppet breaks in the middle of his act. Thinking fast, Skeeter puts his head through the curtains, pretending to be the head of the puppet, and the two wow the audience with Doug's suddenly amazing ventriloquism skills.
  • Shaggy would sometimes use ventriloquism to fool the guy-in-a-mask in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled", ventriloquist Arthur Crandall and his dummy, Gabbo, drive Krusty off the air.
  • Jokey Smurf in The Smurfs episode "Gargamel's Dummy" shows he has a talent for ventriloquism when he frightens Brainy (twice) with the eponymous dummy.

Vengeful Vending MachineComedy TropesVerbal Backpedaling

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
35550
3