Love it or hate it, ventriloquism is hot these days. From Jeff Dunham's superstardom to three recent America's Got Talent winners, 'vents' are seeing more exposure than they have in decades. And with this attention comes new fans and practicioners from around the world.
But venting wasn't always so popular. For centuries it was regarded as dark and deceptive--a practice often associated with charlatans, witches, and people possesed. And even today, some still admit to feeling uneasy in the presence of puppets.
Today we speak with historians and practicioners of ventriloquism to get an inside look at this age-old art form. We'll trace the evolution of venting from Vaudeville to its modern revival, and even get an on-air lesson by a pro!
- Steve Petra - Full-time professional ventriloquist and puppeteer specializing in performances for families and younger audiences, available at PetraPuppets
- Lisa Sweasy - Curator and Director at the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, the world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquism
- Kenneth Gross - Alan F. Hilfiker Distinguished Professor of English at Rochester University, author of several books including Puppet: An Essay on Uncanny Life