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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Gimmick of the past do you remember? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

kristel
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Quebec, Canada
87 Posts

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When I was a kid there was an advertisement saying that: Place a small gimmick in your mouth and be a ventriloquist! I just want to know if anybody out there remember or know something about that gimmick. I'm not shure if it was advertised as a gift choice for the Bazooka Gum at that time. Please help me to remember clearly what it was or was it just the dream of a young kid...

Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my french...
Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my French...
Harry Murphy
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Maryland
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It was sold as the “Ventrilico” (OK, I may have spelled it wrong) or the “Bird Warbler”. It was advertised in the back of most comic books up to the 70’s (and may still be, I haven’t checked).

Basically it was a poor-mans “Swazzle” (from Punch and Judy days). It was originally a bit of thin, membrane-like paper (almost like old fashion wax paper) in a small metal frame. Imagine a metal washer bent in half around a bit of wax paper and you have the idea. The principal is the same as the Kazoo or even along the lines as using the tissue paper and comb as a musical instrument.

With practice you could make some high pitched squealing noises and whistles. With a lot more practice you could talk in a squeaky high-pitched sounding voice. Supposedly, because the voice was so different from your own, and with considerable less volume than your normal talking voice, you could create the illusion of ventriloquism.

Frankly, I doubt if one in a thousand purchasers ever put in the practice with the thing that was required to get to the “voice” stage. Further, they were cheaply made and tended to not last long. You would have to buy them by the gross to get the necessary practice time in.

Oh, how do I know? Well, back in the day I used to pitch these things (along with Sphengali decks and the Magic Mouse). I could whistle, warble and squeal with the best of them. It helped draw a crowd. I would do a bit of ventriloquism when pitching them. Of course, I am a ventriloquist and the device had nothing to do with me “throwing my voice”!

Man does this bring back memories!!!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
olivertwist
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Nashua, NH
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Another name for this is "Swiss Warbler". The best use of them is for making animal sounds. The late Col. Bill Boley did a funny act where he used it to make awful music while he played a fake, miniature violin with a real bow. Then he'd continue to make music as he bowed under his nose and behind his ear. It was very funny and got good laughs. Check out his video, Novelty Ventriloquism, available at maherstudios.com. They are still readily available and cost about $1 each.

Oliver
David Deanie
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Scotland
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I do believe the device you are talking about is sold on the streets of glasgow! Strange men make animal noises up and down the streets! I believe they sell for a few pounds-where abouts can you buy them?

Thanks

David
Harry Murphy
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Maryland
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One source has them in packets of three for $4.50. Check out”
http://www.newplanetmagic.com/catalog/pr......_id=1090

or a package of 50 for $95.00 from:
http://www.clownantics.com/squeakers.shtml

or how about $45.00 for 100 pieces from:
http://www.finalstop.com/magicwholesale/wholesale/index2.htm
it’s item AL 0002

You might even check Robbins EZ magic (pitchmen and wholesale only) for a gross or two at:
http://www.ezmagicrobbins.com/drhome.html

The source I used in my pitch days was in Mexico and long ago went out of business (sadly the owner passed away and his children had other interests).

If you want to hear what one sounds like being performed by a real pitchman on the street try:
http://www.nisgav.com/warbler.MPG
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
kristel
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Quebec, Canada
87 Posts

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I'm happy to know that I was not dreaming in my early days... A special thanks to you Harry Murphy for your precision and your effort to put me and all of us to the reality of a gimmick of the past. It's a surprise to see that the device in question is still available to experiment with. It's fun to go back in memories for the search of commun knowledge about props and gimmicks of our past. I'm glad to share memories with all of you.
I also want to thank Olivertwist and David Deanie for their replies and efforts.
I'm a real French ventriloquist and I was just wandering about the use of that device. Now I know more...and I appreciate.

Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my french...
Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my French...
Harry Murphy
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Maryland
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You weren't dreaming and you brought back many happy memories for me! Many thanks for starting this thread.

Oliver, man I had totally forgotten Bill Boley's use of the gimmick! His was a very funny routine!

Maybe as a gas and giggle I'll pitch them again!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Silly Walter the Polar Bear
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Yes. Thank you Mr. Murphy. I had a nephew that wanted one of everything from his comic book. He picked out two items. The Xray Specks and the Warbler. He actually became good with it and would tease the neighbrohood animals.

Walt

Mr. Murphy, you used to go by Mumblepeas? Why did you stop using it? It sounds like a fun name.
Harry Murphy
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Maryland
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Hey Walter, I still perform as Mumblepeas! I’ve used the name so long that I pass a lie detector test when I’m asked if it’s my real name! LOL!! When I was asked to help out at the Café as staff I had to use my birth certificate name! Go figure. NO one knows me has Harry (heck, I can’t even properly pronounce that name! I drop the “H”!)
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Todd Robbins
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New York
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Some of the old sideshow Punch & Judy professors would pitch using the swazzle but actually sell the swiss warbler.
olivertwist
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Nashua, NH
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Harry, Todd,

I thought Swazzle and Swiss Warbler were different names for the same thing. How are they different. If the swazzle is better I'll get some of them.

Oliver
Todd Robbins
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New York
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The swazzle is hand made and produces a different sound. For a bird whistle sound, the warbler is what you want. Unfortunately, the only ones I have seen today are made of paper and don't last long. The ones made a few years ago were made from artificial leather and could be used over and over again. For more information on the swazzle, look here:

http://www.spyrock.com/nadafarm/html/punchswaz.html
kristel
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Quebec, Canada
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Thanks for your post Todd. The link you suggest is quite interesting. Nice research to help our knowledge on that device from the past. I really appreciate your help. Good job...

Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my french...
Andre Le Magicien
Quebec Canada
Excuse my French...
Slim Price
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1935 - 2006
1326 Posts

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Bobby Reynolds used to make them on his breaks and then pitch them during his magic act. (1950)I never heard them called anything except "Punch Whistles."
Slim
sanscan@tds.net



"I will never bitter be, as long as I can laugh at me!"



"The people who were dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music"
birdy
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netherlands
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BIRDY THE BIRD WHISTLE
http://www.birdy.nl
info@birdy.nl
Hi everyone, magicians and bird lovers!

This is not for advertising purposes, but we cannot resist to react on the theme SWISS WARBLER! And like to inform everybody, who is interested in WARBLERS in general!

There are many bird whistles, looking excact the same, but not performing the same,
NOT AT ALL!!

The item excist over 100 years. In former days the halfround (mouth)piece was made of chamois-leather, which was not giving a nice feeling in the mouth. In later days that part was made of cardboard, which did not last long and had to be made soft and flexible by saliva before one could let the warbler tweet.
The function of that part is mainly to hold the whistle with your tongue at the right place and to "seal" the space between whistle and palate.

As soon as that part is gone, it is more difficult to hold the whistle at the right place to your palate. You can even swollow the thing.
The most important part is the membrane, this is a special treated material and very hard to get. There are many swiss warblers, using a NORMAL PLASTIC membrane. This material is hardly working or sometimes not working at all.

Ther excist also swiss warblers, with a rubber membrane, just like a "turkey-call"
but smaller and making a kind of duck sound. They are coming from Brazil, as far as I know.



The MOUTH PIECE of our product BIRDY is made of special strong plastic based material and last very long. It is very flexible and everyone can tweet like a bird at once! However, the MEMBRANE is made of the right secret treated material.

Our street vendors are selling at markets, theme parks and festivals all over the world. To mention some events in the USA: Mall of America, Camp Snoopy, Mineapolis, Venice Beach L.A. and some State Fairs. One can find us at all major European City's as well in some Asian and African countries, as Singapore, Bali, Tanzania and Kenya.

We sell our product since 15 years, very sucessfully, f.i. at SIX-FLAGS PARKS in Europe.

Unfortunately there are some bad copies, looking the same, producing a very poor sound, or not working at all.

BIRDY is a brand!

There are compatators trying to sell SWISS WARBLERS by using our name "BIRDY" at their site....showing and demonstrate not the one they are selling.

It is rather laughable to notice that there is a (new) site of a compatator, mentioning the brandname "BIRDY" mixed up with their product name of their SWISS WARBLER and even let a (former Birdy-Six-Flags trained) pitchman, do the work at their video clip (!!) We love our BORIS, he is a damm good whistler!!

Dear friends, take your conclusion!!

We sell all over the world by street vendors under the name BIRDY the funniest bird whistle. See our URL: http://www.birdy.nl

We sell daily BIRDY's all over the world in small and large quantities, we accept PayPal and sell retail as well as to wholesale dealers.

Regards,

Ronald Huisman

KENTRA LTD
BIRDY
info@birdy.nl
Netherlands

links: http://www.birdy.nl
http://www.ptasiek.pl
http://www.swiss-warbler.com
http://www.swisswarbler.nl
http://www.vogelstimme.com
http://www.ptasiek.com
http://www.birdywhistle.com
Magicusa
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478 Posts

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I do remember this when I was a boy. My father got one for me. It suck.
Todd Robbins
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V.I.P.
New York
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It's good to know someone is making a good Swiss Warbler. The paper ones are lousy. These would be a good pitch item for performers that do festivals. There is a great old circus act that involves two clowns playing flirtatious birds. They "talk" using warblers and it's very funny.
RandyStewart
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Texas (USA)
1991 Posts

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Gee I forgot about this thing. As a kid I purchased one for $1.00 and it was made of some leather looking material folded in half with a half moon piece of aluminum on the flat side. It was sold as a bird call device. Instructions, if I recall, called for dipping it in water, placing between lips in a certain way, and practicing till you were blue in the face.

Never got mine to squeel or anything. One of those things you have to work with to find the right placement in mouth.
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