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A Favorite of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”

Lester is the ventriloquist figure of Willie Tyler. They have traveled all over the country performing their special blend of comedy. They have also appeared on many television shows.

Willie Tyler started learning ventriloquism when he was ten years old. He had watched vents such as Paul Winchell on television. He ordered a correspondence course from an ad in Popular Mechanics and started practicing. For a dummy, he used an old doll of his sisters. Eventually he purchased a Jerry Mahoney figure that he painted brown.


Before long, Tyler and Lester were performing in talent contests and other local variety shows.

Tyler spent four years in the Navy, and then returned to the Detroit area. After a few years he signed a contract with Motown Records. During the next eight years Tyler and Lester toured with some of the greats of Motown. These included, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, and The Four Tops.

Willie and Lester’s first television appearance was on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1970. They went on to be regulars on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” starting in 1972. When asked how old he is, Lester replies, “Saw me open and count my rings”.


Lester the Ventriloquist Dummy

They appeared on many television shows including, “The Parent’Hood”, “The Jeffersons”, “The Flip Wilson Show”, and “The Hollywood Palace.” In 2006, Willie and Lester were the first vents to appear on David Letterman’s Ventriloquist’s Week.

Willie Tyler and Lester still perform across the country in comedy clubs, at corporate vents, colleges and Las Vegas Hotels. They’ve performed with such celebrities as, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jay Leno.

You can watch clips of Willie and Lester on YouTube including one of their McDonald’s commercials.

If you’re learning ventriloquism, you should spend time studying famous vents like Willie and Lester. Watch how they interact with each other. Who sets up the lines? Who delivers the punchlines? How do they set up jokes and stories? Note their timing. Sometimes a look and a pause can be funnier than a spoken line.

You can purchase your own Lester ventriloquist doll here at the Ventriloquist Store. These dolls are an inexpensive way to get started learning vent. Other characters including, Charlie McCarthy, Howdy Doody, Mortimer Snerd, and Bozo the Clown. There’s also a Slappy figure from the Goosebumps series of books and videos.

These dummies are great gifts for children who are interested in learning ventriloquism. Many of the most famous vents, such as Willie Tyler, started with vent at a young age. It’s a fun and entertaining hobby. Vent can be a wonderful way for shy children to become more outgoing. Writing scripts and developing a figure’s personality will stretch their imagination and creativity more than video games ever will.

Ventriloquist dolls are also popular with collectors. They represent specific times in modern American culture. They make great conversation pieces in your game or media room.

  • Lester measures 26” (66 cm) in length and his mouth is operated via a string affixed to the back of the doll’s head.
  • All dolls come assembled and are ready for immediate use.
  • FREE “How To Be A Ventriloquist” Booklet enclosed