Ever since I was little, I have loved watching ventriloquists. They amaze me. I’m lucky if I can walk and chew gum at the same time, let alone learn to talk without moving my lips AND talking as myself back and forth. I just think that it is such a talent. Jeff Dunham is a talented ventriloquist, but there was one years ago who is one of my favorite performers: Senor Wences.
Senor Wences was a frequent performer on the Ed Sullivan Show. I used to sneak out of my bed and watch the show from around the corner of our living room. I always got caught, because I used to laugh out loud at one point during his segment of the show.
“Vickie, go to bed……………No, you can’t watch Senor Wences………..because it is late……………..Vickie, I know you are still there. Go to bed………No, you don’t sound just like him.Go to bed…………No, you can’t perform a skit for us. It is late……..Vickie………Do you want me to get the belt? Go to bed.”
Any mention of the belt got me going. She never wanted to hear my ventriloquist routine. She stifled my inner ventriloquist.
Senor Wences was Spanish, so I loved his accent before he even brought out any of his characters. My favorite was Johnny, who was just a face drawn on Senor Wences’s hand. Oh, my, did I have ink on my hands often when I was about 9 or 10. I practiced being a ventriloquist, but I sucked. Another character was Pedro, who was basically a head in a box. Senor Wences would open the box to ask Pedro, “S’right?” Pedro would answer, “S’right.” Everyone during that time period used that saying. It was great tv.
When I got older, I watched a movie called, “Magic,” starring Anthony Hopkins. I couldn’t wait to see the movie. I went on a date with my future boyfriend, husband, ex-husband, and found out that we had ventriloquism in common. He received a ventriloquist dummy for Christmas one year when he was young. Wow. I was sure this was true love. Well, we went to see the movie. Scared the hell out of me. I was 21 at the time, and not aspiring to be a ventriloquist any longer. After watching that movie, ventriloquist dummies creeped me out. Badly. I can’t even look at them.
Years later, when I became a mother, I was finally able to perform for my children. I painted my hand and did a Senor Wences skit, but by mistake, invented a new performer, “Mr. Sock Puppet.” I put an old sock on my hand, and Voila! A puppet was born. Who thought an old sock could provide so much enjoyment? It was the first time I heard my little girl cackle. She had the best little laugh in the world. Still does. Mr. Sock Puppet was a success. Of course, Adam called it, “Mr. Sock Puppy,” which made it even more special.
A woman with a sock on her hand. Life was good.