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"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, The Trickster character may use this to fool another character (preferably The Brute).

Ventriloquist dummies are often considered creepy due to their Unintentional Uncanny Valley qualities ("automatonophobia" 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, and Inhibition-Destroying Puppet, which covers people using puppets to say things they're too timid to say themselves. Related to Accidental Ventriloquism, thinking an inanimate object is speaking when voice belongs to an out-of-sight character.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Conan from Case Closed 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).
  • Doraemon: Inverted with one of Doraemon's gadgets, the "Ventriloquism Doll". It will talk like the user and trick the listener(s)'s into believing what the doll said. However, should the gadget be stopped, the listener will immediately come back to sense.
  • Fabricant 100: The singer Roxy has no singing voice, the Fabricant she's partnered with sings behind the stage.
  • 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.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: Lunar tries to put on a ventriloquist act for her class. But since she doesn't have time to practice, she has Maki hide inside the puppet. Naturally, Lunar and Maki get into a fight during the performance, to rave reviews.
  • One Piece: Rob Lucci, The Dragon in the "Water 7" and "Enies Lobby" arcs, 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.
  • Ranma ½: Several characters use ventriloquism for various reasons. 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.
  • In Sumire 16-sai!!, Lex returns to England and becomes the apprentice of a famous ventriloquist.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman villain Ventriloquist has a Split Personality who delivers his orders through his doll, Scarface. Scarface is notoriously incapable of pronouncing the letter B and instead uses "G" (although adaptations tend to remove this trait). 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.
  • Kid Colt foe Dr. Danger is a highly skilled ventriloquist who combines throwing his voice with his mastery of magnets to convince people that he has a partner called 'the Invisible Gunman'.
  • MAD had the short-lived strip "Ventriloquist Priest" by Duck Edwing.
  • Robin Dubois: The titular character once used ventriloquism to fool the sheriff into kissing a toad which "said" it really was an enchanted princess.
  • In Sumire 16-sai!!, Lex returns to England and becomes the apprentice of a famous ventriloquist.
  • Superman:
    • Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Kryptonians notoriously had super-ventriloquism as one of their powers.
    • Played for Laughs in The Girl with the X-Ray Mind. Supergirl needs Lex Luthor's help, but she cannot go near anybody at the time, so she uses her super-ventriloquism to talk Luthor into helping her and to convince the warden to release him temporarily. Unfortunately, the warden believes Luthor is using some ventriloquism trick to fool him and gets him moved to a maximum-security cell.
    • In The Leper from Krypton, the villain Ventor uses his skills as a ventriloquist to infiltrate Metropolis Prison, with the excuse of giving a performance with his dummies, and stealthily receive a sample of Lex Luthor's newly engineered virus.
    • In War World, Superman and Supergirl use super-ventriloquism to communicate with each other through the void of space.
    • Post-Crisis continuity supposedly did away with that power, but Kryptonians can still talk to each other in airless environments, which would indicate it was quietly folded back into the lore.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): In The Golden Age of Comic Books, Diana occasionally throws her voice so it appears that Diana Prince is talking to an out-of-sight Wonder Woman just around the corner or on the other side of an open doorway.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side:
    • One strip features 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.

    Fan Works 
  • The Great Alicorn Hunt: During the Port Malfou Zombie Apocalypse arc, Sweetie Belle uses the ventriloquism skills she picked up during one her previous adventures in order to escape the Lich.
  • This Bites!: The basis of the Noise-Noise Fruit; it enables the user to emit any sound that they heard, forward or reversed, at any volume, anywhere within range of the user's senses. Soundbite had a naturally extended range of a quarter mile already due to being a Transponder Snail, but once he's fitted with a standard rig for a Transponder Snail, that already impressive range at least quadruples.

    Film 
  • In Broadway Danny Rose, one of the acts managed by struggling theatrical agent Danny Rose is a stuttering ventriloquist.
  • Dead of Night features a ventriloquist with a Split Personality who ends up in the madhouse.
  • Dummy is about 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.
  • The early sound film The Great Gabbo 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.
  • Kung Pow! Enter the Fist: Parodied with the ventriloquists in their only scene as dialogue is spoken but their mouths are completely shut.
    Ventriloquists: We are both ventriloquists, ventriloquists, ventriloquists. We are both ventriloquists and we practice everyday.
    He carries the baskets.
    He carries the paper roll.
    And we don't have cysts, but there is one thing that's for sure, my friend, we are ventriloquists.
  • John Carson from The Miracle Woman uses his dummy to voice his feelings about Florence Fallon. It's fairly nerdy and cringe-worthy, but it still comes off as sweet.
  • Hawkhead has a ventriloquist dummy in Rocket Boy. It just loves to talk while Hawkhead is drinking a glass of water.
  • 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.

    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 against blondes, and of course I know that blondes in Real Life aren't dumb like that—
    Blonde: I'm not talking with you, I'm talking with that little dirtbag sitting on your lap!

    Literature 
  • Discworld:
    • In Maskerade, Agnes' manifesting witch powers 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 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.
  • The Entertainer and the Dybbuk acknowledges the consonant issues, but dodges them by using the Dybbuk to aid Freddie's act.
  • Goosebumps: The kids in the "Night of the Living Dummy" series take up ventriloquism as a hobby. Then they find out the dummy is talking on its own...
  • In the Hercule Poirot short story "Problem at Sea", 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.
  • In the children's series Himself by Kenneth and Adrian Bird, about a talking dog, our canine hero comes up with a plan to raise money without giving away his ability; have his owner Timothy pose as a ventriloquist. Everyone's impressed by Timothy's ability to 'throw his voice' to his pet dog while eating and drinking on stage. At one point, a jealous rival guesses the truth and demands Timothy be arrested for fraud, only for it to be pointed out that you can't charge someone for putting on a fake talking dog act when the dog really can talk!
  • In The Hobbit, Gandalf throws his voice to keep the trolls arguing until daybreak.
  • William Goldman's Magic, later adapted into the film of the same name.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, 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 practical jokes, including convincing opera singer Carlotta (an all the Opera's audience) that she croaked like a toad. He also uses it to convince people that he is a real ghost, because they hear his voice clearly, but don't see anyone.
  • In "The Scrambled States of America Talent Show", the lower peninsula of Michigan uses the upper peninsula as his dummy. After the talent show, he does this again, but without a dummy.
    Lower Peninsula of Michigan: ["throwing his voice"] Ohio, give Michigan your donut.
    Ohio: Who said that?
  • In the Spiral Arm series, Mearana the harpist is talented at throwing her voice, a skill which she occasionally uses to deceive adversaries.
  • 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.
  • The Wizard demonstrates this ability in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
    "Oh, I am a ventriloquist," said the little man. "I can throw the sound of my voice wherever I wish.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of 8 Simple Rules has Rory with a dummy that he had be given by the school psychologist to help with his "issues", so it's generally rude and insulting. It turns out that he had just found it and wanted to play with it.
  • G.O.B.'s character in Arrested Development has a ventriloquist dummy, Franklin Delano Bluth.
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory, Howard finds a ventriloquist dummy Bernadette used in a talent show, and she creeps him out with it
  • Subverted 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.
  • Neal tries his hand at this in the Freaks and Geeks episode "Noshing and Moshing".
  • In one episode of Green Wing, Sue White gets a dummy which insults everybody around her, and she swears that 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.
  • In an episode of I Love Lucy, Lucy has to convince someone that Lawrence Welk is in the room, so she crouches behind a Madam Trussard's wax Welk seated at the table and says his catchphrase, "Wonderful, wonderful." Thuen, unbeknownst to Lucy, the real Lawrence Welk shows up and sits at the same place.
  • During one episode of Married... with Children, one of Kelly's rivals in the Beauty Pageant does ventriloquist act for her talent performance — or, more accurately, tries, as Kelly's friends undermine it with a magnifying glass aimed at the dummy, causing it to start smoking before the performance is complete and the contestant in question ending up being too busy blowing out the smoke to finish the act.
  • A minor character in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a ventriloquist whose bit is informing the audience that his dummy died right before the show, then tearfully explaining what he would have said and what the dummy would have said to him. In his second appearance, the ventriloquist has a second dummy who complains that the guy still hasn't gotten over the death of the first dummy and keeps his corpse perched on his other knee.
  • One Morecambe and Wise skit has Eric have a giant dummy that he can't operate properly due to the size.
  • The Muppet Show:
    • One episode's very special guest stars Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy:
      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.)
  • The Murder, She Wrote episode "Where Have You Gone, Billy Boy?" has a cripplingly shy ventriloquist whose dummy does his talking for him, without making it a Demonic Dummy.
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Belly Speaker" has a murder suspect capable of ventriloquism. His Demonic Dummy is super creepy.
  • An episode of Night Court has a visiting ventriloquist who annoyingly talks without moving his lips, even though he doesn't currently have a dummy. He's finally inspired to create one based on the bailiff Bull.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: In later seasons, Pee-Wee has a puppet called Billy Baloney. The gag here is that Pee-Wee doesn't even try to be a ventriloquist. Matchbox produces both a replica of Billy and a ventriloquist dummy of Pee-Wee himself, and using both at the same time can lead to a Mind Screw.
  • Soap:
    • Burt's son Chuck & Bob Campbell is a ventriloquist. Chuck is never seen without Bob (the dummy) (except when people separate them), they wear the same outfits, and many of the characters forget that Bob isn't real. When Chuck meets his step-aunt Jessica Tate, Bob stares at her magnificent bosom and says "Nice jugs", which Chuck would never do...
    • Bert attempts ventriloquism when he tries to convince people he has been turned invisible by aliens.
  • Square One TV: In one Mathnet episode, a ventriloquist has gone catatonic and can talk only through his dummy.
  • Alan uses a dummy in Two and a Half Men, 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 Zack Files: Zack's hobby of the week of ventriloquism in the episode "You Don't Say" leads to him literally losing his voice because it developed a mind of its own and wants to leave him. At one point, it mocks all his friends using Zack's voice coming out of random objects to make them mad at him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • On SHIMMER Volume 46, New York Knockout used ventriloquism to make it sound like LuFisto's "manager" Peegaboo hated her client.

    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 ...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has the Ventriloquism wizard spell, which allows the caster to throw his voice.

    Theater 
  • In 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.
  • One of the Dragon Shouts that the player can learn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is "Throw Voice". Its purpose is to distract enemies while sneaking.
  • In Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, 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.
  • You Don't Know Jack 2011 has the "Who's the Dummy?" questions, where players had to interpret questions asked by Cookie's ventriloquist dummy Billy O'Brien. Of course, Cookie isn't a very good ventriloquist, and has trouble with his "B"s, "P"s, and "M"s.
    One's made of skin, one's made of wood
    So...
    [honk honk] "Who's The Dummy"?
    Billy: Not neeeee!

    Visual Novels 

    Webcomics 
  • Cross Time Café: In one NEOlithic CTC strip, Marmoe introduces his "invisible new friend" To Tiger T.
  • Richard of Looking for Group uses a Ventriloquism spell to hilarious effect in this scene.
  • The title character of Max Overacts frequently interacts with various puppets, most notably Curio, his actual ventriloquist dummy.

    Western Animation 
  • In one Beetlejuice episode, Beetlejuice gets tired of the obviously bad ventriloquism and decides to possess the doll to make it more interesting.
  • 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.
  • Fillmore!: One case's culprit is a ventriloquist. It makes things difficult for Fillmore and Ingrid to find him in a crowded attic, as he throws his voice so they can't easily locate him.
  • The Flintstones: The episode "Ventriloquist Barney" has Barney using his newfound ventriloquism skills to make Fred think Pebbles can talk. He doesn't take the joke very well.
  • One Garfield and Friends episode has an alien who looks like a ventriloquist's dummy and is 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 Justice League Action online short "Missing the Mark" hangs a lampshade on the fact that Mark Hamill not only reprised his role of the Joker, but also his role of the Trickster as well as the Swamp Thing for the series. In it, he plays himself, kidnapped by Joker and Trickster, and he uses ventriloquism to turn them against each other to distract them long enough for Swamp Thing to rescue him.
  • In Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Shaggy sometimes uses ventriloquism to fool the guy-in-a-mask.
  • The Simpsons: In "Krusty Gets Kancelled", the ventriloquist Arthur Crandall and his dummy Gabbo drive Krusty off the air.
  • The Smurfs (1981): In "Gargamel's Dummy", Jokey Smurf shows that he has a talent for ventriloquism when he frightens Brainy (twice) with the eponymous dummy.
  • The Spider-Man (1967) episode "To Catch a Spider" has 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.

    Real Life 
  • Other famous ventriloquists include Terry Fator (the winner of Season 2 of America's Got Talent), Darci Lynne Farmer (winner of Season 12), Ronn Lucas, David Strassman, Willie Tyler, and Señor Wences.
  • Jim Henson famously averted this, as he was not a ventriloquist and never tried to hide the fact that he was performing the voice of Kermit and other puppets whenever himself was part of an act or was interviewed along with a puppet — camera work focusing on the puppets in such cases might have helped spreading confusion about him being one.
  • Ventriloquists who are notable in Britain include Peter Brough, Ray Allen, Roger de Courcy, Keith Harris and Nina Conti.
  • Notable French ventriloquists include Michel Dejeneffe, Christian Gabriel and Jeff Panacloc.
  • The Swedish Cecilia "Zillah" Ustav.

 
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After flashbacks from the last Fall Showcase, the music class students lose hope as they struggle to find a gimmick to appease the crowd (and prevent them from throwing tomatoes). Later in the episode, they get too obsessed with the gimmick of being blue celebrities, that they forget to practice for the all-school showcase — all-school! As a result, their own audience of fans boos them, returning once again to throwing rotten tomatoes at the blue group.

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