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Paul Dumas© is one of the oldest of all the arts. Dating back to Egyptian times, it is mentioned in the Bible although not as a form of entertaiment, Ventriloquism was once considered evil by the church and many exponents were executed for using it.

Ventriloquism is derived from the Latin word 'ventriloquus' meaning belly speaker and only started becoming popular as an entertainment in the eighteenth century. Ventriloquism has in the last twenty or thirty years been considered by many as a dying form of entertainment but it is still a main feature for many variety evenings in theatres and clubs.

Over the last few years magic has become hip and cool with younger audiences - especially in the United States - with younger performers doing street magic. Ventriloquism will never have the fashionable cachet of magic as there are hundreds more magicians than vents {as ventriloquists are known in the business} but many are now performing in comedy clubs resulting in younger audiences seeing them rather than the traditional working men's club or theatre audiences which don't seem to attract many people under the age of forty.

A ventriloquist is an ideal act to book for private functions, such as weddings, birthday parties and children's parties. Many children's entertainers use puppets in their act and the puppet does not need to talk to make it entertaining for the children. However, if the entertainer does have some ventriloquial ability it makes for a much stronger illusion and using puppets for a children's show breaks up the monotony of just doing tricks although there are some fine children's entertainers who just do tricks.

The room for a ventriloquist to work well in is very important and most ventriloquists worry if the chairs are not in the right place or too far from the stage. There is an apocryphal story of a ventriloquist who used to enter the club or cabaret room and move all the chairs and tables to his liking. A slightly extreme thing to do but but the ventriloquist was providing the entertainment and needed to feel as comfortable as he could.

Corporate entertainment is another good vehicle for the ventriloquist - either cabaret or walkabout/meet and greet. Walkabout ventriloquism is also popular for shopping centre entertainment.

This article was kindly contributed by cabaret artist Paul Dumas -
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