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October 2009

Junior University

by Annie Roberts

Each year at the convention, the Junior Open Mic gives ten young ventriloquists a chance to perform on stage for an encouraging and supportive audience.  Plus they get the experience of working with an emcee, a sound person, music, microphones, and stage lights -- elements you generally don’t have performing at Barnes & Noble.  It’s a great experience.  In addition, three professional ventriloquists evaluate the act and give valuable, practical feedback.  Everyone looks forward to seeing what the up and coming generation of vents is doing.  The Vent Haven ConVENTion applauds them for their talent and effort and hopes to see them back up on stage next year! 







Peter M. & Tommy, Staten Island, NY
Peter attended his 9th convention this year at the age of nine.  His influences include Paul Winchell, Jimmy Nelson, and his dad Pete Michaels.  He too plays musical instruments like
his talented father.







Maria A. & Henry, Strasbourg, PA
Maria is ten going on 25 years old, according to her father.  She’s attended the convention for six years and performed in the Junior Open Mic for the last three years.  Maria loves the art of ventriloquism and looks forward to honing her skills and performing professionally in the future.  She also loves to sing and sculpt, someday hoping to make her own figure.  Her favorite vents are Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator.


Melissa H. & Sylvia
the Kookaburra, Leaf River, IL

Fourteen year old Melissa has lived her whole life on a farm. She learned ventriloquism from her grandmother who used to entertain at nursing homes.  Melissa has performed for several years now including the Illinois State Fair 4H Division, as well as her county fair.  Other venues include Vacation Bible School, birthday parties, library events, her school talent show, and a fundraiser dinner.  She’s had one paying gig paid with
Barnes & Noble gift cards.


Matt B. & Vern, Mertztown, PA
Matt is 15 years old and a newbie at ventriloquism.  He’s interested in acting and has been in several local productions.  Matt also auditioned for and was accepted at Lee High Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts.  He will be a freshman in the fall and will major in theater as well as pursue a regular high school curriculum.  Matt became interested in vent several years ago after watching Jeff Dunham.  He’s learned a lot from Steve Axtell’s website, participating in the chat forum and reading all the information on the site.  He took advice from many people he met at his first convention in 2008 and worked very hard to come up with a routine for the Junior Open Mic. 

Tom R. & Joe, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada

His show is entitled “Spare Change for Dummies.”  Eleven year old Tom has been practicing ventriloquism for two years.  The 2009 ConVENTion was his second convention with fishing buddy, Joe.  He learned vent from watching Paul Winchell’s How To video and gained valuable learning experience and techniques last year.  In addition, he got to be introduced to his favorite vents Terry Fator, Jeff Dunham, and Dave Pendleton.  He’s performed his act at his mom’s work Christmas party, plus various school and church fundraising functions.  In the winter of 2008, Tom qualified for the 900 CHLL Great Kids Contest.  Finally, he’s performed on the radio and said it was his easiest gig yet.



Aileen C. & Cloud Shrimp, Loomis, CA
Aileen is an old-timer at the Vent Haven ConVENTion at the age of 13. She learned vent from her dad, a poor teacher but a good student, he says.   She has been performing for five years, mostly at school, church, Cub Scouts, and library events, as well as previous Junior Open Mics.  When not busy with shows, Aileen plays piano, flute, and oboe and dances. 


Meghan C. & Willie Mac,
Westminster, CO

            Now 14 years old, Meghan has been doing vent since the age of five. She is also part fish, and this year qualified for the Elite Silver State Swimming Championship.  Meghan will compete in Hawaii where the large Western Zone Swim Meet takes place with swimmers from all 50 states.  She is musically talented and sits first chair clarinet.  The Legacy Marching Band, her high school marching band will march in London, England in the New Year’s Day Parade.  Meghan and her brother Michael are participating members of the Society of Young Magicians; this group performed for the children’s hospital, libraries, and senior citizen centers.  Meghan loves performing on stage and loves to administer the medicine of laughter.  She wants to be a children’s pediatric sports medicine doctor.  Sometimes kids get scared at the doctor’s and those hand warmer puppets will make it less scary.


Dylan B. & Reggie,
Crestview Hills, KY

Dylan lives down the street from the Drawbridge Inn.  He’s been interested in vent since age five and wants to be a professional ventriloquist when he grows up.  At age 15, Dylan says Vent Haven is favorite
place to perform.





Nick W. & Tommy, Shepard, MI
            Nick is 14 years old and has performed for the past seven years.  He’s participated in four talent shows and has performed in the Junior Open Mic, church programs, and a local women’s club.  Nick looked forward to performing for the vents at the convention.




Jeffrey G. & Beauford, Greenwood, IN
Jeffrey started ventriloquism at age seven and is now 10 years old.  He started with muppet-type puppets, then found Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd figures.  He is self-taught and started watching videos online.  Over the past two years, he has performed at Barnes & Noble, a fundraiser for his sister’s school, a talent show, many birthday parties, and for his family.  He celebrated his best birthday by touring Vent Haven Museum and meeting curator Jen Dawson and former curator Lisa Sweasy.  


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