Hi N Jay
The main difference between entertaining with ventriloquism today as opposed to the way it was in the 60s and 70s.is in it’s new varieties of application.
As fine art (realism) is to abstract art, ventriloquial characterizations; the realistic urban type, cheeky boy character, Charlie McCarthy, in America, or Archie Andrews in the UK, Jerry Mahoney, or Nelson’s Danny character, their sidekick offsets, the country bumpkin, Mortimer, or Nelson’s Humphry Higsby, even Ricky Laine‘s Velvel were standard applications of the art. This includes Senor Wences, face on a hand or voice in a box…”S’awright!”
Today, however, the art transcends the tradition in a number of ways. There is the musical bent by way of Terry Fator’s impressionism and abstracted oddities…such as the purple Woozel by Dunham, highly acceptable and successful.
Sherry Lewis acted as a bridge in a way between the earlier system and the present one. She successfully demonstrated that the ventriloquial illusion was broad enough in its scope to manifest with even a sock puppet.
As to puppets for ventriloquists we went from wood to cloth to latex. Ventriloquial puppet designers such as Steve Axtell’s latex models and his mechanical variations, (a talking drawing board) hypotheticaly move the traditional puppet form for the ventriloquist into the computer generated character forms.
fat and green or skinny and gray, Shrek and his talking donkey, Woozles or singing troubadours, all forms are acceptable to the ventriloquist , his or her imagination and their audience.
Where once upon a time such concepts most certainly would have been considered too odd and too far ahead of their time to be understood by people of that era, with the introduction of comedy into the form in the late 19th century, ventriloquists and their audiences have seen continual changes in the ventriloquist’s application. Between the late 50‘ into the 60‘s and 70‘s, to the present time, today’s huge menu of variety entertainment, live and broadcast has served to educate and increase ventriloquism‘s potential target audience, always seeking some new and different characterization of earlier art forms.