Idols & Mentors

Idols and Mentors. Is there a difference?

Last week I attended the annual Venthaven Ventriloquist ConVENTion in Hebron, KY, which is just outside Cincinnati, OH. This is the big convention for ventriloquists from around the world. It is an event I look forward to each summer. This year we had 575 registered attendees from USA, Canada, Germany, Romania, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and more.

The big thrill for me this year was to meet Willie Tyler and Lester. (I actually met him once before, in 1982. More on that later.)

David With Willie Tyler

Even more of a thrill was to be in the audience during his masterful performance on the closing night show.

Willie Tyler and Lester

Willie Tyler is one of the ventriloquists who strongly influenced my development as a ventriloquist. He is one of my idols. With his numerous appearances on TV, he is one of the few ventriloquists I was able to follow as a kid.

Even more than an idol, I consider him a mentor.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from Willie Tyler:

  • Be classy. I have never heard Willie (or Lester) swear or even discuss racy topics in the act, and yet it is full of humor and great entertainment.
  • Know what you need and state is clearly. The first time I met Willie, I ran the sound during his performance at my college. I remember his extremely clear instructions on the type of microphones he needed and how they should be positioned on the stage.
  • Be excellent at your craft. Willie is a master ventriloquist. When they are on stage, there is no doubt that Lester is alive.

Who are your idols? What have you learn from them? Do you also consider them to be mentors? Why, or why not?