My good friend David Weyrick wrote me the other day. He thought a good idea for a column may be a Ventriloquist’s Wish List.
During the holidays, gift giving is a way of showing others you care.
I am at the age that if I want something, I buy it. Which makes it very hard for those around me to give me anything I may want.
We are often asked, “What do you want?” What are some suggestions to give others which benefit them in finding a gift and benefits you for getting something you can use?
So with that in mind, I started thinking about what types of things may be on a ventriloquist’s wish list. The next day, David sent me some extra ideas! Here is the list …
1. Puppets & Figures
One thing almost every ventriloquist can’t resist is a puppet or figure.
That is a pretty expensive gift.
Plus there is no way of telling if someone would purchase you a figure or puppet you could use.
Remember the character profile? I knew you would.
An expensive puppet is a gift better given to yourself. That way you know what you are getting. Plus if you don’t use it – you aren’t trying to sell a gift on FaceBook or eBay.
However, a gift could be a gift certificate to a certain puppet or figure maker.
Find what you want and talk to the maker.
We have a list of Puppet Makers & Figure Builders on our Ventriloquism Resources Page.
Would they consider offering gift vouchers in different denominations?
That way, the giver can purchase an amount they are comfortable with – and you can apply it toward something you want.
On one hand it is a good solution. On the other hand it is like asking for cash. You will know exactly what the giver spent.
So let’s look at some other ideas:
2. Membership to the International Ventriloquist Society
If you aren’t a member, offer that as a gift suggestion. It is a gift that gives all year. What you have missed will surprise you and chances are, you will want to stay a member after you find out!
3. Ventriloquism Swag
I know others do too – I just don’t have time to research and link to everyone.
Getting a t-shirt, hat, bag or even water bottle that tells the world you are a ventriloquist is a great gift. One you may not even consider buying for yourself, but something you would use and enjoy.
4. An Online Course
Dan Horn has a wonderful course on Puppet Manipulation.
Mike Palma’s Ventriloquist Figure Building course is state of the art, step by step.
Ken Groves’ Breaking Down The Brick Walls of Show Business covers the business & show sides of ventriloquism. A great study for those wanting to work more shows.
How about the Maher Course of Ventriloquism on Kindle. You’d have the classic ventriloquism course at your fingertips to enjoy again and again.
Discussions On Showmanship – learn about the one skill that will help you earn bigger paydays and more applause. Seven successful pros tell you what it takes and how to do it.
On the less expensive side – have you heard Bob Neller’s classic VENTRILOQUISM audio? It is an educational bargain and makes a great download gift.
How about some ventriloquist scripts to help round out your act?
Then there is the Working The Library Market Workshop video presented by Mark Wade & me at the 2018 Vent Haven ConVENTion. December is the perfect time to see that as booking starts in January and you will want to get your promo together.
Of course, Lee Cornell’s Ventriloquist Academy has many of Lee’s videos now online. Learn from Bill DeMar, Sammy King, Bob Rumba and Lee himself.
Also check out Tom Ladshaw’s Gottle O’ Geer collectibles. Maybe there is something there a friend or relative would like to know about.
Did you know Colin Dymond now has a puppet course on the Kid’s Entertainment Hub. That would make a great gift too.
5. The Vent Haven ConVENTion
Every year I hear people wishing they could go, but they just don’t have the funds. Why not ask for a registration for 2019? Who knows, maybe some people would even chip in to help cover the travel, or room, or food. If you are lucky, you might even get some dollars for the dealers rooms!
Just send your loved ones to: http://VHConVENTion.com
What else would make a good gift for a ventriloquist?
6. Sound equipment
While a sound system may be an expensive gift, it is also an excellent one for a ventriloquist. After all, ventriloquism is an illusion of sound.
Here are a couple of sound systems of varying quality that may be useful on a ventriloquist’s wish list:
If you are doing smaller shows, one of these systems may be perfect for you:
The Fender Conference System
This system includes a 175 watt amplifier, two speakers, two speaker stands and cords. You will need to get a microphone, but this is a nice system at a great price. Click here to see the system.
This system is also available without the stands or extra cords for a lower price. Although I highly recommend speaker stands for any sound system. Click here for the lower priced option.
Other Fender Systems worth checking out
When Fender first started offering their portable systems, many school show & church banquet performers used them. They still make the smallest version, which is the Fender 150.
I personally purchased the Fender 250 because it allowed me a greater range of venue coverage. That system was ramped up to 600 watts and is now known as the Fender Venue PA System.
The Peavy Portable Sound System
Peavy is known for professional grade sound systems. Their equipment has stood the test of time for many traveling bands and variety performers. This system is small and powerful at 300 Watts – click here to check it out.
If you are doing bigger shows, these sound systems and speakers are probably right for you:
The QSC K8 2-Way Powered Speaker
At one time, I carried a huge amp and heavy speakers. The creation of the powered speaker was a huge plus for variety artists.
The QSC K8 is used at the Vent Haven ConVENTion. We use four of them to cover the room. These speakers can be used alone or in series. (Running cords between them to create a multi-speaker set up.) They sound amazing and are highly recommended. Check out the QSC K8 by clicking here.
Most of the professional ventriloquists I know love the Anchor Sound System. It was created for the speaking voice – and that is exactly what we do – talk! While it is the most expensive of the systems listed here – it is also one of the best for ventriloquists. Click here to check out Anchor Sound Systems.
Other Sound Equipment Gift Ideas
Audio Ape Music System – the most reliable remote control music system on the market and used by top pros including Jay Johnson. (I use one too!)
The Shure SM58 Handheld Microphone – (used by professional singers and ventriloquists.)
Countryman Headset Microphone – I am not a huge fan of headset microphones, but if you want one, Countryman is the best. This is the microphone only – no wireless pack. Make sure your gift giver knows what type of wireless system you use so they can get the right adapter to plug your headset in!
Speaker Stands – if you have speakers, you improve the sound by placing them on stands.
7. An inexpensive video camera or webcam
Perfect for recording your act and watching it to discover areas you need to work on.
8. Cases for your puppets and props
From duffle bags and suitcases to pro trunks like Cabbage Cases – these will come in very handy.
9. Pillow Cases / Puppet Bags
That’s right. I keep my soft puppets protected in high quality pillow cases so they stay clean when traveling. This is a great gift for anyone who works with soft puppets.
10. Clothing for your figures & puppets
Just let people know the sizes and what type of clothing may work. Or – be surprised and get some new ideas!
11. A custom script
Mark Wade writes custom scripts for acts at a pretty reasonable rate. What a great gift – allowing you to provide your audiences with original laughs.
12. Ventriloquism Coaching
A lot of ventriloquists offer coaching. I believe if you want to learn, you should learn from the very best. To that end, for one on one coaching, reach out to Ken Groves.
Ken has a reasonable hourly rate. He is down to earth and will seriously help you with trouble areas. Ken is technically one of the best – and I highly recommend him! You can reach him by email.
13. A Puppet Stand
Creative Ministry Solutions has a nice puppet stand that will hold your “friend” during performance.
Axtell also offers a high quality version of a puppet stand known as the SitStand.
Kevin Detweiler occasionally sells a strap on stand that allows you to walk around with your puppet. You can check his eBay seller page to see if he has them available.
14. Ventriloquism Books
Lest you think I forgot this was a Ventriloquist’s Wish List – how about a book on ventriloquism? From how-to to history, learning about the art is fun. Click here for a wide variety of book options.
15. A Cart
When you get to shows, the easiest way to move your equipment in and out is a collapsible cart.
I am a huge fan of the Rock-N-Roller Folding Multi-Cart. It is used by a lot of professionals and withstands hard use.
Need something smaller? The Cosco Shifter Folding HandTruck/Dolly may be a perfect solution.
16. Backdrops & Frames
A professional backdrop can add a lot to your show. Here are several ways to improve your “look”.
Photography Backgrounds – I found a lot of cool designs and inexpensive stand setups on Amazon. While these may not last long, with proper care you should get some use out of them. Plus they are cheap enough you can get several looks to change things up!
Jeff Jones also sells a very high end portable backdrop. Check out his products here.
17. Advertising & Office Ideas
Printable Business Card Stock
You may not want someone else printing up business cards for you, but how about business card stock you can feed through your printer? This thoughtful gift can be customized by you for your business and clients. Business card stock comes in a variety of colors including white, matte white, ivory and matte ivory. Check it out by clicking here.
Paper costs have gone through the roof in the last couple of years. While it is still an inexpensive gift, it is a business expense that can be avoided when given as a gift. A bright white, 24 lb. bond is perfect for correspondence.
You can also think about a high quality linen or cotton stock paper from a company like Southworth.
A Magnetic Car Sign
While I recommend you provide the design so you get something you want to use, magnetic signs for your car can get you work! They are easy to remove when you want to be anonymous too!
A Professional Photo Shoot
Ask for a pre-paid photo shoot. Upgrade your look on advertising and website by getting professional photos taken. This is a great gift for any entertainer!
18. Customized Goodies
From embroidered shirts, jackets and hats to totes, bags, mugs, water bottles and pens – customized gifts are a great way to show you are a ventriloquist.
Some people avoid this type of gift because of set-up charges or minimum quantities. In many cases if you can order singles, they are expensive.
I want to share a link with you for a company I use that is reasonable PLUS has excellent quality and service. Check out: https://queensboro.qbstores.com
19. Peeper Puppets
Peeper Puppets are eyes connected with a U bracket that fits around your finger. They turn your hand into a puppet! While there are cheap knock-offs on the market, they are usually too small for the adult hand, and are of inferior quality.
Get a gift of Peepers and use them at shows, then gift the peepers to an audience member. It makes you memorable and you’ll get a gift that you can pass along to others!
20. Gifts To Keep You Healthy
When a ventriloquist gets a sore throat, it makes it tough to perform. Let people know that some great gifts would include:
Throat Coat Tea – the tea that soothes the sore throat. Jeff Dunham recommended and many pros approved!
Entertainers Secret Throat Spray – Non-medicinal, this throat spray relieves a sore throat almost instantly and can last the length of your show! Highly recommended.
21. Tools & Tool Bag
The Leatherman Multitool gives you 14 tools in one. Need a screwdriver? check! Need Scissors? Check. Pliers? File? Need to strip a wire? Check – I think you get the idea.
How about a Hot Glue Gun? You never know when you’ll need to fix something fast and a low temp hot glue gun can save the day. Especially with soft puppets, fabric and props.
And of course, a Tool Bag to keep everything in one place and convenient to carry.
22. Storage Bins
Storage bins come in handy for everything! Keep your puppets safe. Keep extra supplies organized. Store your cords in a handy tote.
Stackable clear storage bins make a great gift for anyone. Especially a ventriloquist!
23. Set Up Supplies
Need to fasten down a cord so no one trips? Need to fix a broken prop? Sometimes tape is exactly what you need, and these gifts will definitely be used by a performing ventriloquist!
To fasten down cords and tape down cue cards – I recommend Gaff Tape. Why? It sticks to almost anything and leaves no tape residue when removed. Some people use Red Gaffer Tape for visibility. Others stick with Black Gaff tape to make the tape less noticable. Click here to get professional quality gaff tape in a variety of colors.
Some people prefer to use duct tape. I find Gaff tape to be much better. If you ask for duct tape, make sure you ask for a quality brand that won’t cause problems for you. I’ve purchased duct tape that stuck to itself and ripped to shreds better than it would stick to anything else.
You may want to consider a roll of Gorilla Tape. Made by the same company that makes Gorilla Glue, this stuff does stick! It comes in several colors including clear and can be handy for repairing a trunk or table that breaks.
24. Miscellaneous Gifts …
Still more gift ideas for the ventriloquist include:
Velcro strips for cords – a great way to keep power, speaker & mic cords from becoming a tangled mess.
Extension Cords – since you never know exactly where you will need to plug in.
Oh, and don’t forget a power plug splitter! Because someone else may be using the outlet you need!
25. Show Tickets
Ask your loved ones to check the tour schedules of Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Darci Lynne and Taylor Mason. How cool would it be to get some tickets to see one of your favorite ventriloquists in concert!
And finally …
26. A donation in your name to the Vent Haven Museum’s building fund.
They need to raise 1.4 million dollars to build a new museum on the existing property. Last summer they were sitting at only $300,000.
The biggest problem will be that for every year it takes them to reach their goal, construction costs will rise. So if you are feeling generous, a gift to you could be a gift to them and the world of ventriloquism.
I want to thank David Weyrick for the article idea and for helping with so many of the wish list ideas. David, I appreciate your friendship and all you do!
So there you have it. A Ventriloquist’s Wish List for this holiday season. Share this article with those who ask: “What do you want?”
Have ideas David & I missed?
No doubt. Let us know what you would add to this list in the comments below!