Stream it: 'Her Master's Voice'


Owl, Gran and Monkey pose with Nina. Virgil Films & Entertainment

If you listened to our recent podcast episode "Ventriloquism: The Science of Dummies" then you're already benefiting from a more nuanced understanding of the complex psychology and performance art involved in the ventriloquism. Then you learned a little more in our video on the topic.

Now it's time to complete that understanding with a viewing of "Her Master's Voice."

As mentioned in the episode, this excellent 2012 documentary follows UK ventriloquist Nina Conti as she ventures across the pond to the world's premier ventriloquism convention in Kentucky.

Of course she doesn't come alone. She brings along Monkey, her psychoanalyzing simian co-performer, as well as the puppets of her recently deceased hero, master and former lover Ken Campbell. Oh yes, and one of Ken's puppets is in his own likeness.

The film provides a weird and whimsical look at the world of ventriloquism, but where it really excels is it's treatment of the complex relationship between human and animated object, between master and puppet. Because for puppeteers, even dear puppets come and go. But the ventriloquism dummy is an extension of the psyche, a thing given not only movement but a sliver of human soul.

In the wake of his death, Kens' dolls are voiceless -- and Nina takes on the challenge of giving them voice herself. Yes, even the Ken puppet. All of this takes on an even more serious tone as she decides which dummy to retire to the Vent Haven Museum and whether to continue in her art form at all.

Here's the trailer, but you can view the entire documentary on Netflix currently. If you don't have a membership, you can try a free 30-day trial of Netflix and support Stuff to Blow Your mind by clicking right here.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.