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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Fear of Ventriloquist Dummies (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Aussie
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I know this topic comes up again and again. But I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject in a new thread.

When I tell people I'm a ventriloquist many times the reply is "oh I'm scared of those things". Why anyone would be afraid of a comedian I have no idea, but usually those people will remind me of the doll Chucky in the movie Child's Play to which they associate their irrational fear. So I remind them that Chucky isn't a ventriloquist dummy, but in fact a child's toy.. a doll with a pull string and a recorded voice in it's body.

Perhaps then these people should be more afraid of that "Woody" doll from Toy Story they bought their son or daughter for christmas

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harris
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I usually avoid this topic when performing.

One exception is when I do shows for middle school students. I share puppet workshops, 4 times a year.

Sometimes I open the vent section with Nigel.

He says...."Hi, my name is Chucky. DO YOU WANNA PLAY!


Harris
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Aussie
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Haha love it Smile
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george1953
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I find that most are only afraid of the Chucky type dummy, the animal ones and plush types they are not bothered by for some reason.
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Aussie
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I'm not a child's entertainer so I don't use animal puppets.

I prefer to break down this rather contrived phenomena of adults thinking my ventriloquist figure will suddenly leap from my lap and attack them. Smile
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daffydoug
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Clowns have a similar problem. Certain people make it their business to implant fear into the hearts of ofher people through books and movies. It's sad beyond words, but it's the sick world we live in.

It's all about money. I think that goes without saying.
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SD Houston
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I did some ventriloquism several years ago and have recently gotten back into practicing. When I started, I always found it amusing that people would be so disturbed by a ventriloquist doll just laying around (though these fears don't usually surface during an actual performance). I think it comes from a fundamental fear of superstition, regardless of movies. 'Lifelike' images have a way of unnerving people on some subconscious level (like that statue or painting who's eyes seem to follow you in every direction when you're all alone and it's too quiet), especially when they know that figure can actually be made to move or speak seemingly on its own.

The human mind's irrationality is an intriguing thing is it not?
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Neale Bacon
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Aussie - I am a family entertainer, not a children's entertainer, but I find my whole audience likes my animal characters. It has more to do with the character or personality rather than what the puppet is.
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Lou Hilario
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If you perform near a young child, I noticed that what they fear are the big eyes.
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Steve Petra
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Any adult that is actually afraid of a ventriloquist dummy deserves to have their brains eaten while they sleep by aforementioned dummy.
SD Houston
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The part I find amusing is that a ventriloquist dummy, when just sitting around unused, creeps a lot of people out, meanwhile Frank, my old gray-bearded biker dude of a ventriloquist puppet (actual puppet, not a hard figure) actually draws great positive attention, even when he's just lying lifeless on the couch! Then again, I guess puppets aren't as 'realistic' as the hard figures, so...
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Regan
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Remember, the movie "Magic"? I have seen a lot of movies and shows that cast a spooky light on ventriloquist dummies. I think it is the hard figures that get the bad rap. Dolls in general are used by the television/movie industry as scary props. Heck, I am guilty of doing it myself in some haunted house scenes that I created. Some people do have a phobia of things like this. People have similar feelings and fears about clowns.
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harris
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The book,(by William Goldman??) is even better.

It got me thinking of combining magic (close up) with a puppet/vent routine)

I have only one classic figure with lots of bells and whistles.

It is fairly large and life like in the head.

For a while I kept it at the middle school on the table which is directly in line with my door.

Many staff and students told me it "freaked them out"

I got a pair of gym clothes from the P.E. department and a hat for "John".
That seemed to tone down the reactions for a while.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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ZachDavenport
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Quote:
On Apr 29, 2014, Harris wrote:
The book,(by William Goldman??) is even better.

It got me thinking of combining magic (close up) with a puppet/vent routine)

I have only one classic figure with lots of bells and whistles.

It is fairly large and life like in the head.

For a while I kept it at the middle school on the table which is directly in line with my door.

Many staff and students told me it "freaked them out"

I got a pair of gym clothes from the P.E. department and a hat for "John".
That seemed to tone down the reactions for a while.

I am thinking of doing a d-lights routine with my magician puppet.
Reality is a real killjoy.
Pavlovs Puppets
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I noticed that it's realistic looking puppets who make that fear. "Cartoon" style puppets are well accepted. I think it might be because realistic looking puppets are percepted on subconscient level as "dead" or surnatural REAL beings. Cartoon puppets are not taken as real, they are interpretation of reality and do not have this effect.
For young children it's normal to be afraid of puppets. Famous puppeteer Sergey Obraztsov recommended not to take children under 4 years old to puppet performances.
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lotcaster
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The highly stylized features of classic-style ventriloquist dummies have a lot to do with it. They are scary looking in the same way that a really old porcelain doll is scary. It may be a form of the "uncanny valley" effect. I have never encountered anyone who was scared of cute, cartoonish vent figures.

They look scary to me, which is why I like them (I'm attracted to things that scare me). As an adult, I'm not afraid they are going to come to life, but I had a very big fear of that when I was a child, due to a couple of Twilight Zone episodes coupled with the presence of a couple of vent figures in our house.
harris
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Last week I do a strolling gig at a Fitness Center.

I was surprised when someone said "creepy" while I was using Pervis.

Pervis is marionette dressed as a. 1950's rock and roller.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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likanton
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In the medical world it is called: Automatonophobia

It's the same thing that people are scared of clowns and mimes.

I think it's because of the movies about scary dolls and puppets.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Joseph_Then
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While we are talking about the people who are scared of puppets, we have to recognize that some people in other countries grow up with fear of puppets and dolls. Few years ago I found out that people from the country of Myanmar (ie. east of India) have chronic fear of puppets because in their culture and beliefs, dolls and puppets are used in voodoo and it's very eerie.
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