John Byrd, Ventriloquist

Many years ago, an excited little boy would sit in front of the television set enthralled by the magical performance of Paul Winchell as he gave life to Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff.

On his tenth birthday, he receive a treasured gift: a book written by Paul Winchell titled "Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit."

Now he was ready to begin performing. He took his dummy to his elementary school. He performed while he was in junior high school (as it was known back then) and high school. He competed in talent shows in high school (second place two years in a row) and performed for various groups in the community.


When he entered Virginia Military Institute, Jerry was placed in storage. For four years at VMI and two years in the Army, Jerry stayed in storage. In the back of his mind he always had the desire to get Jerry out and perform again. While at VMI he met a beautiful, vivacious woman and married her before he went on active duty in the Army. She never knew about his talent as a ventriloquist because, quite frankly, it never came up in conversation. While moving household goods to a new house, he placed Jerry in the driveway and concentrated on unloading heavier, more bulky items first. He did not know that his wife was planning to go shopping while he was unloading. She backed the car out of the driveway and crushed Jerry's head. He was devastated. His wife did not understand what the big deal was because she had never seen him perform and did not know of his desire to perform as a ventriloquist again. He had no idea where to buy another dummy and soon work and family consumed most of his time. Ventriloquism was put on the back burner for many years.


Finally in 1990, he discovered something called the internet. He typed in the word "ventriloquist" and found many different places where dummies could be purchased. After extensive research, he purchased the first dummy he had had in years. 

The excited little boy read and re-read the book from cover to cover. The book explained how to become a ventriloquist, how to build your own dummy and even included several routines. The little boy mastered the art of talking without moving his lips and memorized the routines in the book. He studied how to build his own dummy. Before he began building a dummy for himself, he received a Jerry Mahoney dummy for Christmas.

He began developing routines and collecting additional characters.

He also discovered a ventriloquist convention and began attending that as well. It is called the Vent Haven ConVENTion.

He finally built a dummy according to the directions contained in the book he received at the age of 10

And now he is ready to perform for you!