When did it become prevalent in America to record a voice in your audience and what made this a popular form of entertainment?
“In my house the first ventriloquist voice I ever heard was in the house of a couple, and then it was just from the local public radio stations in New Haven, Connecticut for 30 years.
“They had two little black boxes that you could put up on the roof. They took the voice and it was recorded and then they would show clips of that voice on the radio. And then when everybody figured out that you could get a voice by having a man blow a ventriloquist’s “gag” you began to sell it. That’s when ventriloquism was around, when public talk shows were on TV.
“But it wasn’t in the popular culture from that day until quite recently. I first heard it in New Haven at the Yale University in a local public talk show in the early ’90s and I went back to New Haven and I still have some tape from that show. And it was just a voice-over and the audience was not laughing.
“I think some people got it because it sounded like a little “gag”.
“I think that’s what made it appealing to a younger audience, I think. And then a couple years later we started hearing it in some local churches and the churchgoers were loving the ventriloquism. And then we were going through a period when the local public talk shows were starting to go off the air, I believe, because they were competing with WNBC (ABC News) in the area. And I thought, “Well, why not come out here and make a ventriloquist show?” I thought we could be a nationally syndicated talk show and eventually a national syndicated show.
“And so I did.”
That made the news for the rest of your childhood?
“Yeah. I mean, I had to get it ready to go with the tape. At the time it was still a little bit of a novelty.”
Were you a good or an average ventriloquist, if so, could you explain that?
“I’m not a good or an average ventriloquist. I think there are many little differences and I think it just takes a little extra work. But I did get good after a while. But I am not a good ventriloquist. I love working with children
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