A Dummy Who Really Acted Dumb.
Mortimer Snerd was one of several ventriloquist figures used by Edgar Bergen. The characters were created by Bergen for his radio show in the 30s and 40s. Many people thought that a ventriloquist would never gain popularity on the radio. But Bergen and his sidekicks proved the critics wrong. Audiences loved Charlie, Mortimer, and Effie.
Unlike the wise-cracking Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer was a little slower with his comebacks. He was portrayed as the country bumpkin type character. What we might consider a “red-neck” today.
Mortimer wasn’t only on the radio. In 1939 Bergen created a syndicated comic strip called “Mortimer and Charlie” that centered around their antics. He also appeared with Bergen in the 1943 movie, “Stage Door Canteen”.
When studying ventriloquism, Bergen characters are a great place to start. Even though Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, and Effie Klinker were all Bergen’s creations, they were unique characters. Not only did they sound different, but their personalities were very distinct. Effie was after a man, any man. Charlie was the sophisticated “man about town”, and Mortimer was always a little slow to catch on to things.
There are several online sites where you can listen to the Edgar Bergen radio shows. Listen closely to the difference in the characters voices. Then listen for hints to their personalities. Bergen was a master at developing his characters and a lot can be learned from him even today. You can also find copies of old movies with Bergen and his figures.
Mortimer Snerd Ventriloquist Dummy
As you develop your own characters you want to make sure they have separate personalities. Write bios for each of your figures detailing their age, their favorite foods, what their hobbies are, etc. This may seem silly at first, but when you start writing scripts it will be much easier when you know your characters well.
You might have a woman puppet that’s a chocoholic. It can be a running gag in your act that she’ll do anything for another chocolate truffle.
Jeff Dunham uses a character reminiscent of Mortimer that he calls BubbaJ. Bubba is the ultimate beer drinking, NASCAR loving, red-neck.
When creating a character like Mortimer or BubbaJ make sure they’re shown as “country” or “red-neck”. NEVER make them appear learning disabled. This will be offensive, not funny.
A character like Mortimer is always loved by the audience because even though he might not seem like the sharpest guy, he usually out smarts the ventriloquist in the end. In general, audiences like to see the dummy win over the ventriloquist. This is why the vent is usually the straight man and the dummy gets the punch lines.
A Mortimer Snerd figure might be the perfect addition to your ventriloquist act. At one time it was hard to track down these classic figures, but now they are available again at online stores. Being a ventriloquist is a fun and unusual hobby. You can order a figure today and be on your way to learning vent in a few days. If you’re looking for a way to be the “life of the party”, then ventriloquism is a great skill to learn.
- Mortimer Snerd measures 30” (76 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