How many times have you heard that you were very lucky to be born in the 21st century? Many take it for granted. When you look at history you begin to appreciate how far the art has come. This article will concentrate on one such area ventriloquism history.
The art has grown from its early days in ancient Egypt. Jeff Dunham is the epitome of ventriloquism that has reached its maturity phase. Together with others they have shown that ventriloquism can be used to entertain.
This article is an exposition of startling ways the art was used in the era before Jeff Dunham.
Read it to appreciate how far the art has come. Or click me to watch some great YouTube videos on the bottom of this page!
- 1 Where did it all start?
- 2 Startling Facts about Ventriloquism
- 3 When did the transition take place?
- 4 A Gottle of Gear - Ventriloquism - History - Ray Alan - Documentary
- 5 Quick Ventriloquism History Documentary Promo
Where did it all start?
Ventriloquism history is diverse as it is ancient. What is concrete and to be relied upon is that it began as a religious practice. The Egyptians have a claim to it, the Greeks so do the Zulu communities in Africa. Therefore, it is not safe to say or estimate when the art form came to existence.
Startling Facts about Ventriloquism
1. As a God-Man Communication tool
Spiritual leaders used to imitate the voice of God in order get God’s message across. The idea that God was too powerful a force to mingle with common men is dominant in religion. No man was pure enough to stand in his presence. Ventriloquism history and biblical records agree on this.
Therefore a prophet specifically chosen for this purpose would act as a channel between both worlds. Each time both communicated the prophet would take a different personality and voice not his own. His voice was interpreted as the voice of God himself. What Jeff Dunham does today is the entertainment version that is more palatable to a wider audience.
If God could use the art to serve his means. The dark forces could not be left out either. Mediums, witches and sorcerers were the mouthpieces used to get information from the dead. In fact the root of the word ventriloquism comes from the Latin version that means to speak from the belly. It was believed that the voices that came from the ventriloquist were of the dead. This is where the mention of demon possession comes from.
The Bible goes on and on about seeking the services of mediums. Saul the King of Israel is recorded to have such an experience. Jesus talked to a man who was possessed by a familiar spirit. Ventriloquism and divination can be easily confused. Both rely on the mouthpiece being entirely controlled by a master who has full control over the mouthpiece.
Like many mysteries, it is not clear how the Egyptians stumbled across the art. The claim was that Osiris spoke in a voice, not of this world coming from either the earth or from above. The priesthood practiced the art of ventriloquism to deceive the worshippers.
They stood in the place of God to interpret and act as mouthpieces. All they had to say was Osiris told me, or God speaks to me. The Bible documents a similar deception case with the prophets of Baal and the prophet Elisha at Mount Carmel.
Similar stories have emerged from Greece. Diviners would play the same gimmicks to unsuspecting clients. The diviner would consult the spirit. The spirit would make its replies from the priest’s belly while the priest’s facial expression and lips remained fixed. Since many did not know much about the art they were at the mercy of the diviners and priest demands.
4. Winning Soul Mates
People have used the art to their advantage. Louis Brabant won the heart of a beautiful, wealthy heiress. The work of M. L’abbe La Chappelle published in 1772 shows the ventriloquism achievements of Baron Menge of Vienna.
When did the transition take place?
Ventriloquism, performing with a wooden doll with a movable mouth began in the 19th century. Fred Russell lauded as being the first ventriloquist to perform with a puppet on stage. Fred’s ventriloquist companion Caster Joe became an overnight success.
During the middle of the 20th Century ventriloquism remained very popular due to Edgar Bergen. Charlie McCarthy, the wooden boy, and their radio show drew the public. Other notable ones are Shari Lewis, Senor Wences, and Paul Winchell.
As television sets came into the field in the 20th century, the industry took a blow. Terry Fator, winner of America’s Got Talent 2007, and Jeff Dunham, a two-time winner of Funniest Male Stand-Up Comic have done much to popularize it.
Ventriloquism history acts a gateway to a beautiful art. How it was used to take advantage of unsuspecting believers in the past is startling. However, we should be grateful that it is slowly finding its way in the entertainment circles. The difference between then and now is, the public enlightened and the performers have mastered their craft.
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