Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

Convention Home

Convention 2009

New This Month

Junior Vent University

From the Director

Past Conventions
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005

    2004
    2003
    2002

The Drawbridge Inn

Bring the Family

Vent Haven Museum

Vent Links

FAQ

Press Release

Archives
    Tips and Techniques
    Blasts from the Past

    Anecdotes

 

xx

Convention Anecdotes 2005

Junior Showcase 2005

Pictures That Talk: Mary Kingsley & Ed Casey

Pictures That Talk: Sue Saltzman & Bruce Weaver

Dale Brown's First Convention Memory

Paul Winchell by Jay Johnson

Vents Look Out for Their Own - As Well They Should by Kelly Asbury

Bob McElroy Story by Gary Owen

Gary Koepke's First Time Convention Memory

Mary Boardman's First Time Convention Memory

John Parisi's First Time Convention Memory

My First Convention by Annie Roberts

Court at Chaucer's

 

December 2005

Junior Showcase

Each year the convention offers a Junior Open Mic session to give young vents a chance to perform in front of an audience and receive different types of feedback.  In addition to getting the experience of a live audience, each performer is given a critique sheet from three professional vents and a videotape of the performance.  This will help them learn more about stage-presence, microphone skills, vent technique, manipulation, and material.  It's much more than just did the audience laugh at this bit.  In this way, we hope to encourage these up-and-comers to continue to improve their skills and enjoy this amazing art they've endeavored to learn.  

Here are the performers from the 2005 session and a little bit about them.  We hope to see each and every one of them back again next year.  

 

Hannah L. & Whiskers, Urbana, IL

-This was Hannah's 5th ConVENTion and her 4th Open Mic appearance.

-She has performed library shows, a Halloween show, at an Animal Expo, and attended Second City Boot Camp.   

 

 

 

 

Meghan C. & the Tooth Fairy, Westminster, CO. 

-Meghan is ten years old and was introduced to vent by her father the day she was born, November 30, 1994.  Happy Birthday, Meghan.

-She has attended the past five conventions and performed in the last four.

-Her performance this year was called Attack of the Tooth Fairy.  It grew from questions she had about the Tooth Fairy, such as: how many teeth does she collect every year?  Where does she live?  Is there more than one Tooth Fairy?  Do they retire?  What do they do with ALL of those teeth?

 

Dave C. & Grandpa, Upper Darby, PA.

-Dave is 16 years old and will graduate to the Senior Open Mic session next year.  

-He started vent at age nine and was inspired and strongly encouraged by his father Dave C, Sr.

-Grandpa, a MAT puppet, was originally his dad's but today they share him.

- Dave counts Jimmy Nelson as his vent idol.  

 

Lydia B. & an angel, Mary, & Jesus 

-Lydia is 16 years old and will move on to the Senior Open Mic session next year as well.

-She started vent at age six and was taught by her father.  

-She mainly performs Gospel vent and is an Honors student.  Her performance was called "A Song for Jesus." 

 

Madison F. & Tony,  Selma, AL. 

-Madison is 13 years old and in the 8th grade.  He's been doing vent for three years after his mom bought him the move Magic.  

-He learned vent through the Maher Home Course, and Tony is first professional figure from Maher.   

-Madison performs in children's ministry and birthday parties.

-He says, "I am in the process now of having my own self designed figure professionally made that I plan to copyright.  I love ventriloquism and hope to make it my life's work!"

Rachel K. & Ketchup 

-Rachel is 16 years old and will be our third Junior Contestant to graduate to the Senior Open Mic session next year.

-Currently a high school junior, she started vent in 8th grade and performs mainly at church and school.  

-Her performance focused on the story of Jonah.

 

 

Cameron H. & Joe, Woodstock, Ontario, CA. 

-Cameron is 13 years old.

-At the time of his performance, he'd only been performing vent for ten months.  He's been learning from professional vent Yvette Campbell.

-Cameron warned the audience, "Don't throw objects, we'll throw them back." 

 

Adam D. & Max, Commerce Township, MI. 

-Adam is 14 years old, and this was his third convention, but his first Open Mic performance.

-He started at age nine when he received a Charlie McCarthy dummy for getting good grades and sites Richard Paul as an influence.

-Adam enjoys operatic singing and school plays and performed a song called "The Curse" during his Open Mic performance. 

(Back to Top)

 

Pictures That Talk

During the convention last year, Bob Rumba conducted a workshop entitled "How to Make Pictures that Talk."  Bob is the master of creative promo shots.  Volunteers from the audience stepped up on stage and Bob helped them craft humorous photos.  Each month we'll feature a couple pictures from that session. 

Mary Kingsley & Martha McHaggis, Edmonton, Alberta, CA

Mary writes: "Martha has only been part of my family for a year now.  I asked Mary Ann Taylor if she would make up a puppet that was a no-nonsense, older Scottish lady, but friendly and full of fun.  We came up with a face that had some of Mary Ann's previous character features but also had her own special brand.  Martha is a big hit with the senior market because they can relate to her many ailments!  In the photograph, she is delighted to have a good hand of cards, and whilst Martha is always very 'straight,' she enjoys winning anything over her friends."

"While I have enjoyed watching ventriloquists perform, it wasn't until 1997 that I took up the noble art and added it to the musical show that my husband and I perform under the name of 'Peter and Mary.'  Growing up in Britain and now residing in Canada, my first trip to Las Vegas was not until February of 1997 where I was hoping to find a suitable ventriloquist puppet to begin practicing.  On the morning I was flying out, quite by chance, I found out about the 'Movie and Magic Hall of Fame' (no longer functioning) with its huge ventriloquist figure and puppet collection run by Valentine Vox.  Literally sprinting along the Las Vegas Boulevard, I managed to pop into the Hall of Fame store, met Valentine and bought a video on vent basics by Paul Winchell.  May of the same year saw me back in Vegas attending the first Vegas Ventriloquist Convention, and I haven't looked back since.  Whenever possible, if our gigs allow, I always enjoy attending both the Vegas and Kentucky conventions.  A wonderful time for getting together with people of all calibers who enjoy the art of ventriloquism and sharing so much comeraderie."

"'Peter & Mary' have been performing together professionally for over 30 years working in many varied venues from cruise ships, community concerts, resorts, schools, malls, children's festivals, and many corporate shows for both adult and family audiences.  Our main aim is to bring a sense of joy into the shows that we do and the added ventriloquism certainly does that and more."

 

Ed Casey, Westminster, CO

Ed writes, "Eye yam a graduate of the Maher Home Course of Ventriloquism.  I make use of my skills on a daily basis.  I developed a safety show designed for younger elementary school students which debuted in Fall 2000.  I have attended and performed at the Vent Haven Ventriloquist Convention annually since 1994.  I am a participating member of ENTERTAINERS UNLIMITED (an assembly of clowns, magicians, etc.) who specialize in bringing any object to life.  I perform at elementary schools, libraries, and walkaround."

(Back to Top)

 

November 2005

Pictures That Talk

During the convention last year, Bob Rumba conducted a workshop entitled "How to Make Pictures that Talk."  Bob is the master of creative promo shots.  Volunteers from the audience stepped up on stage and Bob helped them craft humorous photos.  Each month we'll feature a couple pictures from that session. 

Sue Saltzman and "Detective Digger"

Sue writes about her partner and act: "We've been "partners" for about 2 years.  He's a slooow talking, inquisitive, incredible "know-it -all" hunter.  He appears mainly in children's shows , proving his skills as my "illusions assistant." Children, as well as senior citizens, love to hear him howl. He's just one of my dozens of figures. 
Though I began using vent when I was teaching kindergarten some 30 years ago, I've only seriously undertaken it for the last 6 or 7 years.  Combining Vent with illusion,  I perform in just about any type venue that I'm asked to--from birthday parties to more formal settings."

 

Bruce Weaver and Edgar J. Woodley

Bruce writes about his vent history and current act:  "Like many other vents I got started when I was ten with a Jerry Mahoney figure which was a Christmas gift.  Jerry and I performed around my hometown area in western Pennsylvania.  I didn't do much with Jerry through high school, but used him off and on while playing in a rock band during my college years.
 
I started my elementary teaching career in North Central Pennsylvania in 1970 and occasionally incorporated Jerry in my classroom activities.
 
I started getting serious about performing in 1982 when I took the Maher Course.  I have been performing ever since throughout North Central Pennsylvania and South Central New York.  I now have about 20 characters. My main concentration in recent years has been library shows, Sunday School and Bible School presentations, and Christmas Shows.  I also do an occasional banquet and fair.
 
"Knight Boy" as Bob referred to him, is really Edgar J. Woodley.  I think he is a Lovik Figure.  I purchased him though Maher.  Edgar is a typical smart aleck who easily out wits me (which isn't hard to do).   In the photo, Edgar is wearing the Knight suit that we used in our "Dragons, and Wizards, and Jesters! Oh My!" Library show this past summer."

(Back to Top)

 

October 2005

First Convention Memory

by Dale Brown

At my first convention I was a rank amateur who didn’t know any other vents, and I made the error of not being aggressive about introducing myself to very many others.  I did talk with Clinton Detweiler, Bill Boley and Alan Semok, all of whom later corresponded with me and helped me a great deal.  I also met Jimmy Nelson, briefly.  But it was long enough to give me the nerve to call him later about a television talk show appearance that I was going to do.  Being the gentleman he is, he agreed be part of the program via telephone interview.  I never forgot how nice Jimmy was to me, and I’ve tried to always act the same way to other vents who seek me out for advice.  I didn’t meet Bill DeMar until my second convention.  But I saw him perform during my first convention and his outstanding figure manipulation made a big impact on me … and still does.

I do remember that by the end of my first convention I was convinced that I could become a professional vent and I made a vow to return the next year with a more organized and serious agenda.  Within three years of my first convention I was making pretty good money as a part-time professional.  Then I leaned to carve out specific niches for myself in the corporate market and that’s where I’ve been pretty successful for the past 18 years or so.  But I always make a point of advising other vents to attend conventions and to go out of their way to meet other vents, including the lecturers and performers.  Most vents are willing to share their expertise and can provide a wealth of information that can help beginning vents avoid common pitfalls that often result from inexperience.

At my first convention I also looked at a lot of figures to compare prices and features.  Shortly afterwards, I purchased a hard figure from Maher that I had seen at the convention.  I purchased my current primary figure from Alan at a subsequent convention.  I think by far the dealers’ rooms are great benefits of the conventions. You can shop and compare, plus talk to others who may be using puppets or figures produced by dealers who are represented at the convention.

But without a doubt, my third convention still ranks as my most important convention.

(Back to Top)

 

August 2005

Paul Winchell

by Jay Johnson

As I am trying to finish this article for Vent Haven, I get the news that Paul Winchell has passed away. Although we met only a few times, I felt a genuine closeness to him and find myself searching for words to express the loss. 

I know that anything I say about ventriloquism is not complete without the proper mention of one of my heroes, Paul Winchell.

I guess for a generation of baby boomers Paul Winchell is ventriloquism.  In the 1950’s and early 1960’s Edgar Bergen was an elegant legend, but Paul Winchell was an accessible friend. Such was the power of early television.

He was a skilled and clever ventriloquist, singer, painter, inventor and voice-over artist. At his memorial service, friend after friend described him as focused and disciplined. He seemed to approach every challenge with tenacity and the joy of discovery. 

I was fortunate to witness the excitement and joy of “Winch’s” personality years ago.  I will never forget it.

It was the occasion of Senor Wences’ one-hundredth birthday celebration of at the Hollywood Improv. It was a celebrity filled audience but for me Senor Wences and Paul Winchell were the only celebrities who mattered.

Paul motioned me over and asked me to sit down at his table. With a child-like glee he said, “Look at this…” 

He held up an Improv cocktail napkin. On it was drawn two big eyes and a stringy mop of hair. When draped over the fist it looked like a black and white version of Senor Wences' hand puppet Johnnie.  “He made this for me, Senor Wences made it.  He made me my own personal Johnnie.” Although in his mid 70’s Paul Winchell was as excited as an eight-year-old with a new toy. He reverently placed the napkin between the covers of a book, carefully securing it like it was an original Picasso.

I knew the look in Paul Winchell’s eyes at that moment. It was the same awestruck reverence that was on my face when he asked me to sit down. It was the look of being touched by the presence and kindness of a master artist. It is great to know that hero worship does not change as we get older. 

Thank you Paul Winchell. You will never know how many people your life touched.


(Back to Top)

 

July 2005

VENTS LOOK OUT FOR THEIR OWN - AS WELL THEY SHOULD!

by Kelly Asbury

I first attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion in 1999, back when my book DUMMY
DAYS was in its embryonic stages of research. At that time, the book was
being developed as a singular biography of the great Jimmy Nelson, whom I
had admired since childhood and
with whom I recently cultivated a personal friendship. At Jimmy's urging, I accompanied him to the ConVENTion, shadowing his
every move. Each day, he introduced me to many people
, explaining that I was
his "Biographer". I was even given a Press Badge. I had the opportunity to
interview several nice folks who had known Jimmy for years, and my overall
experience was great...

...But something seemed just a bit odd: For every person who seemed happy to
allow me to interview them, there was another who seemed rather stand-offish
or, dare I say, suspicious. Paying this little mind, I went back to
California
ready to hit the laptop and continue writing my book. Well, as
far as DUMMY DAYS goes, the rest is history: I ended up expanding the book -
which is dedicated to Jimmy Nelson and also includes bios of four other
great vents (
Bergen, Wences, Winchell
, and Lewis). I have attended every
ConVENTion since 1999 and have made many, many new friends along the wa
y. (As of last year, I even sit on the museum's Board of Advisors - a great honor
to me.)


So, why that odd feeling back in '99? Two conVENTions later I would find
out, when a fellow ConVENTion-goer explained how I had been viewed those
first couple of years during my early research phase: Jimmy Nelson is
everyone's hero at Vent Haven.  In the hearts and minds of his fans, you
don't mess with Jimmy. Who's this guy with the Press Badge, wearing the
tank-top, Old Navy shorts and flip-flops following Jimmy Nelson around? Is
he another one of those "I'm writin' a book/makin' a documentary/doin' a
newspaper article/doin' a piece for People Magazine" types? Is he gonna make
fun of Jimmy? Is he another Vent basher?  Is he going to be truthful about our hero?


I wouldn't have understood back in 1999, but I certainly do now. Every year
it seems that someone new shows up who's doing a project of some kind on the
subject of vent. How do I feel when I see them? Probably rather stand-offish
and, dare I say, suspicious.

You don't mess with Vent Haven! Not in My book!

Have a DUMMY DAY!

Kelly Asbury 

(Back to Top)

 

June 2005

Bob McElroy Story

by Gary Owen

It wasn’t my FIRST convention…but a year or two later. I had JUST acquired Frank Marshall figures used by vaudeville Vent Bob McElroy. It just so happened that he retired in Norman , Oklahoma .

One day Bob heard me talking about ventriloquism and the convention on my radio show. This was back in the early 80’s. He invited me to his home. Said he had something he wanted me to see. When I got there, this gentle, slender man opened the door and invited me in. There in his living room, on the couch were ALL of his career figures. I was so excited I couldn’t stand it.

I had no idea at the time, that BOB McELROY was very BIG in the old days. I also had no idea at the time, the VALUE of his collection of Marshall s. He said he was ready to retire them and wanted them to go to a good home where they would be appreciated and cared for. (He apparently didn’t know about VENT HAVEN.) One by one, I bought all but one small black Tommy Knots. (He had TWO Tommy Knots in the collection.)  One of his figures was an Esquire.

Two years later, Bob passed away. That’s the first part of the story.

The year after I acquired the collection, I brought my little red headed, Tommy Knots to the convention. Remember, I had NO IDEA what was in my possession. When I introduced the little character to guys like Johnny Main and John Arvites, I was briskly swarmed with comments like…

Johnny Main: WHERE did you get that TOMMY KNOTS!!  

Gary: Uh….a guy named Bob McElroy.

John Arvites: Bob McElroy is still alive? 

Gary: Uh…yeah…he’s retired in Norman, Oklahoma. 

Johnny: Does he have any more?

Gary: NOPE! I bought them all!  

Johnny: How much did you give for them? 

Gary: Anywhere from $150-$350.

Johnny’s eyes rolled, Arvites nearly passed out, and I quickly realized I had gotten one of the FINEST collections of Marshall figures in the country. And getting them from a retired vaudevillian like Bob McElroy, I had acquired a PRIZE collection. Johnny was kind enough to educate me and showed me how Marshall dated his figures.

As of this day, Frank Marshall’s business card remains inside a few of the heads, and on the heads they are pen marked “Made for Bob McElroy" (followed by the dates of completion).

I parted with one a few years later…TRADING to Johnny Main for a figure I wanted Johnny to make for me. I made the deal with Johnny because I knew how much he LOVED Marshall Figures. And that he would NEVER part with it. Can’t believe I parted with it myself.

In the picture with me and Bob, the figure Bob is holding is the one I traded to Johnny. It is still in his collection that I assume his son now owns. I’ve tampered with the thought of asking him if he would be willing to sell it so I can have it back in the collection.

 

(Back to Top)

 

May 2005

First Time Convention Memories 

by Gary Koepke

I attended the first Vent Haven convention in 1975.  I was 18 and working as the resident ventriloquist at Six Flags Over Georgia preparing for my first year of college.  Really shouldn't have gone financially, but wanted to be a part of it.  I brought with me my best friend from high school who was 17 and a puppeteer who had never attended any sort of puppet convention.  His name was Steve Whitmire and now does Kermit the Frog for the Muppets!

We were looking forward to seeing the All-Star show which from my memory was billed as having Edgar Bergen, Willie Tyler, Monsieur Brunard, Bill Boley, the Berlin Brothers, and Jimmy Nelson.  We were disappointed that Bergen and Tyler were no shows, but Jay Marshall came and MC'd the show and did his bit with Lefty.  The convention turned out to be better than either of us could have imagined.

The "Round Towner" (the old name for the Drawbridge) was high priced for a couple of teens with limited funds and the only thing we could afford on the menu at Chaucers was a hamburger, but it was great.  At registration, I met another friend who I'd known for years named John Pattison.  When John had heard of the convention he'd assumed it people would stay at the Holiday Inn around the block from Vent Haven so he booked there.  By the time he'd discovered where the real hotel was, all the rooms were booked so Steve and I moved him in with us.  Later we found another friend of mine named Dave Garrison who was also staying elsewhere and moved him in with us.  All 4 of us staying in one room and riding around in an old Ford Pinto must have been quite a sight!

There was a dinner before the first show and Jimmy Nelson approached me about performing at the first show... it was the thrill of my lifetime just meeting Jimmy, but when he asked me to perform it was beyond belief!  I believe I was the second performer at the first convention... trivia probably no one knows, but special to me.

We got to see the McElroy Brothers perform with their gorilla marionette outside of Vent Haven.  Steve shot Super 8mm movies of it for about 15 minutes.  We discovered Johnny Main when he filled in on the All-Star show.  We got to meet the Berlin Brothers and see Gregg's lecture on Novelty Ventriloquism (and I still have the lecture notes).  But one of the best things was meeting a relatively new figure maker named Ray Guyll and attend his lecture on building a vent figure.  I bought the lecture notes and when we got home, Steve and I made one using the techniques outlined in the lecture notes... came out great, but my parents bathroom was covered with Plaster of Paris!

I had planned on making it an annual event, but life had other plans.  The next convention I attended was in 1996.  This year will be my third.  But I'm looking forward to it as much as when I was 18 at my first convention!

*First picture is Gary Koepke with Pete Brooks (on the left, made by Jack Coats) and R.K. Hill (made by Conrad Hartz) in 1996.  

*Second picture is Monsieur Brunard (Dick Bruno) and Joe Flip.  Joe Flip, a Marshall figure, is now a resident at Vent Haven located in the W.S. Berger Building (#1) near Senor Wences.

*Third picture is Glenn (standing) and George McElroy with King Kong.  King Kong is also on display at Vent Haven in the Josephine Berger Building (#3).

(Back to Top)

 

April 2005

           First Time Convention Memories 

     Wow! And double, triple WOW! And that doesn't even begin to cover it.  I was a little nervous going in but in wasn't long before I felt like I had just returned home after a long trip.  People were coming at me from all directions to say hello and introducing themselves.  I felt like I belonged to a very, very large family. Thank you to all who made me feel that way!  

          With over 400 of us in attendance I did not get to meet everyone.  Hopefully I'll get to meet the rest at next year's convention.  

          The convention itself was the most organized convention of anything I've ever attended.  Everything ran right on time.  I was amazed.  The break-out instructional sessions were fantastic.  A lot of information was presented at each one.  I could chat with and ask questions of some of my favorite big-time vents like Mr. Bill DeMar, Jimmy Nelson, Mark Wade, Jeff Dunham, Tom Ladshaw and so many more.  It was truly amazing. They were all so very kind and talked with me as though I'd been around for years, too.

           The dealers were wonderful.  It was indeed a vent's heaven to wander through the rooms overflowing with everything vent related.  I came home with lots of good stuff.  One of the dealers even had me in tears on the last night (happy tears) -- I bought a new figure from him and they were indeed very happy tears!  I named my new friend Col. Bueford T. Beauregard, III.  He's definitely awesome.

And what can I day about Vent Haven -- unbelievable.  There are no words to describe the feeling you get walking into such an inspired place.  It's like looking a room full of old friends.

           For anyone who didn't get a chance to go this year, please make an extra effort to go next year -- you certainly won't regret it.

          Thanks to all of you who made me feel so very warmly welcomed on my first (and definitely not last) visit to the convention.  

          Mary Boardman, Des Moines, IA 2003

           (Back to Top)

           First Time Convention Memories 

As everyone has said what a ConvVENTion! I, having never attended a ConVENTion before, have no point of reference, but if this not the norm I will be sorely disappointed in the future.
First of all, let me thank Al Stevens and Don Woodford for
convincing me to go. They stuck with to make sure I had a good time.
Now I have to say thank you to Conrad and Carol for being so nice
and treating me like an old friend. I met some great people in the
dealers rooms Dano and Renae, Joe Boley and Ronda Jo, Steve Axtell
and his wife Susie, Al Good, Lee Cornell and Albert and all were
very nice.


I got to meet some of the people whom I "know" from WORLDVENTS
like Bill Demar, Nina, Kenneth M.F. McGrath, and names that escape
me at the moment.


I got to meet Jimmy Nelson.
I got to meet Jeff Dunham.
I got to meet Pete Michaels.

Pete Michaels and I come from the same hometown and he is the cousin
of my younger sisters' friend and so there was a connection for
me with he and Stacey. Little Pete walks around doing his fathers
act, but I couldn't take notes fast enough to steal any of it.
KIDDING!

I learned a lot even if I did fall asleep during the comedy-writing
lecture, YES THAT WAS ME, if he was funny maybe I wouldn't have
fallen asleep! Nah, I was just tired is all.

I learned from the professionals that I have a lot to learn and I
learned from some amateurs that I am better at this than I thought.
I saw some great looking figures and some real ugly ones too, at
Vent Haven and at the ConVENTion. It's hard to believe that vents
used those less than perfect dummies but I guess they were difficult
to see on the vaudeville stage. I had a great time and if you read
any sour grapes in this post read it again, I loved every minute of
it and was sorry to have it end and hope to be able to go next year.
John Parisi 2004  

(Back to Top)

 

March 2005

My First Convention 

by Annie Roberts

My first convention was in 1981 when I was ten years old. My aunt, Dorothy Millure, had recently taken over as curator at Vent Haven Museum and was now in charge of the convention.  Since Vent Haven had no staff but the curator, her family stepped up to help out, my ten year old self included.  My job that first year was a difficult one.  I had to stay in the convention headquarters' suite (rooms 122 & 124 in those days) and answer the telephone.  Next to the phone was a nice pink pad of paper where I would dutifully take messages and answer questions about the Saturday Night Show.  The suite's bar was stocked with snacks and I got to play secretary for the day.  What a chore!  At the end of the day, my reward was I got to go swimming in the indoor pool by our room  Very cool!  

My other job that first year was being a general gopher, a role I continued for many years.  That was fun too.  I got to wear a badge with my very own name on it, and since I was "staff," my mom told me I had to dress up a bit. For a little girl, this was like real "dress-up" and way more fun than being at home.  I'm sure I didn't get the whole "ventriloquist convention" concept -- the fact that hundreds of people from all over the world were coming to my home town -- but I do remember walking through the halls delivering messages and hearing people laugh and cut up.  People were practicing being funny even without their puppets, and that was almost as cool as the swimming pool.  I remember the energy and excitement in the air being around all these talented, entertaining adults. The appeal was magnetic for a little kid.  Almost 25 years later, I'm still not a ventriloquist but I show up every July to get my name badge and be among the funny people.  Although my title is now Media Coordinator, don't let that fool ya'.  It's just a fancy name for gopher.   

*Annie Roberts pictured above with her father, Vent Haven President John R.S. Brooking.

(Back to Top)

 

February 2005

Court at Chaucers

Back in the early days of the conventions, when the activities of the day were finished and the dealers had closed their tables, a group of conventioneers used to gather nightly at the Cup and Chaucer, as it was called then.  They'd get a long table at the back big enough for twelve to twenty people and order coffee, lots of it.  Then they'd spend the wee hours of the night trading stories, telling jokes, visiting, and catching up.  The neat thing about this ritual was it was never exactly the same group of people.  There were always different faces and anyone could join in.  Someone standing back and observing would see amateurs and professionals, first-timers and seasoned conventioneers.  Basically if you could stay up that late, you were welcome to come listen and put in your two cents at the big table.   The first to arrive and the last leave (and the first to get coffee, an important distinction) was Johnny Main.  While most of the time, lots of different conversations were going on, every now and again someone would ask Johnny a question about how to do a good distant voice or something.  Everyone would quiet down and eagerly and solemnly listen to him like a judge in a courtroom.  He didn't just need a stage to entertain.  Those around him were keen to hear his knowledge of the craft.  Even a teenage Barbara Jean Daniel accompanied by her father would come to listen to the banter.  Anyone who was left at 4:00am when Chaucer's closed would adjourn to the lobby for another hour or two until the sun came up, signaling time to catch an hour or two of sleep before getting up and starting another day among fellow ventriloquists.  This is why the Vent Haven ConVENTion is so special and unique.  People of all ages and abilities get together to share and learn and have a good time together. 

*First picture is Johnny Main and Bill DeMar at the table in the back.  The second picture is Barbara Jean Daniel, Alicia Dacoba, and Debbie Dacoba.  

This story was submitted by Mark Wade and Pete Michaels, both seasoned veterans of Chaucer's late nights.  The pictures were submitted by Pete Michaels.  Thanks for this great memory! 

 

 

 

(Back to Top)

 

 

 

Copyright 2007 Vent Haven ConVENTion, Inc.
For information: markwade@venthaven.com

All contents of this website, including pictures, may not be reproduced, rewritten, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or the use of any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the Vent Haven ConVENTion.