For those who want to get their Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on, ventriloquism costumes are a funny, creepy choice for Halloween or any costume event.
Options in Ventriloquism Costumes
You don't have to be a ventriloquist to dress like one, which should take off a lot of the pressure. A ventriloquist costume is all about the dummy, of course, so you have two options. One is to get a little dummy, which range in price depending on what you want and how detailed you'd like to be. T
he other is to create a couple costume, which entails much more work but can also be very funny. The advantage to a couple dressing as ventriloquist and dummy is that the person who is the ventriloquist isn't saddled with a wooden dummy to carry around and take care of all night.
Shopping for Ventriloquism Costumes
When your heart is set on having the little dummy, you have a number of online options. Dummies can be bought from such sites as Mr. Funs, which sells replicas of Bergen's famous dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd, as well as dummies representing W.C. Fields, Howdy Doody and Danny O'Day.
For something a little more modern, and creepy, there is a Slappy dummy, straight from the R.L. Stine Goosebumps series. This dummy has scary, glow-in-the-dark eyes and of course, a movable mouth, which all the dolls come with. Also included are "how to" booklets, in case you do want to teach yourself some basic ventriloquism.
Another fun, if unwieldy, way to go is to be the dummy. A number of sites (you can start with Costume Shopper), sell an adult-size costume that puts you in the dummy mask with a stuffed ventriloquist effectively "behind" you. The costume features two hats with attached wigs, an adjustable shoulder harness with an attached ventriloquist head, shirtfront and cloak, movable jaw half-mask and tie on the puppet body.
Couple Ventriloquism Costumes
Ventriloquist costumes don't need to involve little wooden puppets to be fun with a dash of creepy. If you saw the movie or Broadway show Chicago, you may remember the number where the shyster lawyer Billy Flynn tells criminal Roxie Hart to "act like a dummy" and then she moves her mouth obediently while he manipulates her story for the press. Use that image as inspiration for a great costume!
If you want to keep the outfits easy, you can be Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, no matter your gender, because that only involves wearing black suits with white bow ties and black top hats. Charlie should have a monocle, which can be painted on if you either can't find one or don't trust yourself to be able to keep it in place. The person playing the dummy also needs string hanging down their back.
The real trick is the makeup. Whether you're being Charlie or any other character, or just yourself as a dummy, you want to look sort of "clown lite." That is, you want to look fake and exaggerated, but not too much so. Penciled eyebrows, pink cheeks and an overall shine to the face is a good start. Your eyes should be as wide as you can make them, which can be achieved with white eyeliner under the eye and white in each inner corner.
Women should wear fake eyelashes. Lips should be thin and wide, but without too much attention drawn to them. To create the illusion of a wooden jaw, lightly draw lines from the lips down and around the chin using either an eyebrow pencil or brown eyeliner. You might even try just using a brown eyeshadow, because you want the contour hinted at, not too obvious. Experiment a few times to see what works best.
Then all you need to do is work up a few jokes and you'll be the hit of the party!