I attended the 2009 Ventriloquist ConVENTion in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky a couple of weekends ago. I had a great time, highlighted by being able to pal around with some of my ventriloquist heroes like Jimmy Nelson and Sammy King. I can't begin to acknowledge the influence each one of these guys had on my career. It was great to get a private tour of the special exhibit Lisa Sweasy and Jen Dawson did for me at the Museum. Even more exciting was being able to invite Jimmy, Sammy, Brad Cummings, Jeff Dunham and Tom Ladshaw to the private venture. It is a time that I will not soon forget.
Jimmy Nelson could be in my opinion the second nicest person in the world, second only to his wife Betty. I call Jimmy the Godfather of ventriloquism, at least in my perception of it. He has perhaps done more for the art form than any other vent. You can talk about Bergen and Winchelle, but they were just highly visible. Jimmy was always approachable, giving and supportive of other vents and young kids like me who wanted to follow in his footsteps. He attends every convention, lectures, discusses and helps anyone he can.
Sammy has always been like my big brother who was always out of town. In the last few years while he was at the Palm Springs Follies he was close enough for me reconnect. He was even in the Follies when my Mother in Law was the performing in the show. She used to tell me how similar I was to Sammy with our love mutual of sketching and creative endeavors. I didn't realize until this trip that Sammy made Francisco the Parrot. He said as one puppet would wear out he would make another carefully taking some piece of the worn out puppet to incorporate into the new. This continuity of the soul of a puppet certainly touches my passion.
Sammy did his last show with Francisco Saturday night at the convention. On stage after the performance donated Francisco to the Museum where he will take up a position of silent spokesman to an act Sammy has done 25,000 times in his life.
I doubt Sammy or Jimmy read this blog, but I lift an imaginary glass to you both. To the art of ventriloquism and two of the best protectors of that holy grail, all I can say is "thanks for the inspiration".
As you were,