Ventriloquism

While in the car the other day, I was listening to the CBC radio program, “The Current,” which I often do, as I like the host, Matt Galloway. Matt is smart, always well-prepared, and thorough in questioning his guests. And his guests can come from anywhere, with diverse interests. On this particular morning, he interviewed two young (ages 8 and 9) spelling bee enthusiasts, and then moved on to real estate.

Apparently one of the hottest markets for Canadian residential real estate is Nova Scotia. Potential buyers are viewing properties on-line, without conducting in-person visits, before making their purchases.

Matt interviewed Michael Harrison and his fiancé, Jennifer Giesbrecht, who together had just purchased a house in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Windsor is a town of some 4,000 people, about an hour from Halifax. The happy couple, from British Columbia, purchased their new home in Windsor for $225,000. When asked what $225,000 would get them on Vancouver Island, Jennifer’s response was, “a down payment.”

Michael and Jennifer viewed Nova Scotia properties from a distance, putting their trust in their real estate agent (a gentleman named Kevin Spacey, no less) and were quite pleased with the outcome, finally seeing the house in person the day they moved in.

That’s not their house. I don’t have a photo of the Harrison/Giesbrecht home to show you, but this 5 bed, 2 bath Windsor, NS, Victorian shown above, is listed for $269,000. Comes with an in-ground pool. Before you start thinking about Windsor as a place to land, consider this: While summers are warm, winters are not, and Windsor gets about 100 inches of snow annually, often at one time.

OK. Now you might ask, “what does Nova Scotia real estate have to do with ventriloquism?”

Well, it seems that the aforementioned Michael Harrison is a ventriloquist employed by cruise lines. Michael and Jennifer (she had recently quit her job to join Michael at sea), were in Mexico waiting for a cruise assignment, when Michael got the word he was out of a job due to Covid-19’s impact on cruise travel. It was that bit of news that caused the couple to contemplate a move to affordable Nova Scotia from their base on Vancouver Island.

And, as it so often happens when I am doing my “blogue,” one thing leads to another; so I started to do some research on ventriloquism. I did recall the appearances of Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy, Jimmy Nelson and his Danny O’Day, all of whom appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. And then there was Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop. She was a hottie – Shari – not Lamb Chop.

As strange as Michael Harrison’s profession might sound, there are a lot of ventriloquists around. I went on-line and discovered you could rent a ventriloquist, starting for as little as $100 an hour. A really good one might set you back $800 for an hour’s work. Might be a great way to liven up a party. And for those of you looking to fill your days, there are ventriloquism classes. A dummy can be had for under a hundred bucks on Amazon (free delivery with Prime). Perhaps a great way to one day impress your friends in the cul-de-sac.

Jeff Dunham, currently the most famous ventriloquist, might pass on a neighbourhood event. Jeff makes between $15 and $30 million a year from personal appearances, shows, DVD’s and streaming revenues. This is Jeff below, with his puppet (better “puppet” than “dummy” don’t you agree?) “Walter.” Think of Walter as a puppet version of Don Rickles.

Quite funny, and Jeff does not move his lips when Walter speaks. It’s remarkable when watching “their” show, that Walter (and other puppets) can say pretty much anything, and nothing sticks to Jeff.  He comes off rather saintly.  Catch them on Netflix and YouTube.

And what of Michael Harrison? Content to be employed as a custodian at Acadia University. Jennifer works in a medical office.