How to Write a Ventriloquist Act

By Liza Hollis
A ventriloquist act uses interaction between the human and the dummy to get laughs.

In a ventriloquist act, a comedian uses the prop of a puppet to perform a routine. A talented ventriloquist is able to control his lips while he talks to make it seem as the puppet is talking. Because these acts are also performed solo, plenty of planning and script writing should go into the act to ensure a flawless routine. A hilarious ventriloquist act can happen only with a clever and well-planned script.

Create a name and character for your ventriloquist dummy. Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen became famous for his dummy, “Charlie McCarthy.” In many ventriloquist acts, the relationship between comedian and dummy is somewhat adversarial, allowing for some jokes at the ventriloquist's expense.

Think of a conflict that your character might face. If you choose to acknowledge that the dummy is not real, you could write some story lines that involve him not being able to do or experience things like a human. For example, it might be hard for the dummy to take out a bank loan without a Social Security number. Other conflicts might be arguments between you and the dummy, or issues with interactions between the dummy and his “friends.”

Use an existing story as the model for your act. Puppet shows have long been used to illustrate concepts and moral lessons to the viewer. Look to fables, film, books and even current events for a story that you want you and your dummy to tell. Your dialogue could demonstrate the happenings while taking a moral or comedically ethical stance.

Write dialogue that encourages interaction between you and the dummy, and the dummy with the audience. You want the crowd to feel engaged in the act, not simply like they are watching theater. Some playful ribbing of viewers might be a good topic for an act, but keep the humor catered in appropriateness to the audience.

About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.