Nina Conti reveals the 'subversive witchery' of ventriloquism

Comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti on why ventriloquism is still relevant today and how she is inviting her audience members onstage to participate.
Comedian and ventriloquist Nina Conti's comedy show, In Your Face, will make its New York City debut on Dec. 12 at the Barrow Street Theatre. (Idil Sukan)

Ventriloquism is not just "cruise ship entertainment," comedian Nina Conti argues. 

For Conti, there's a seedy underbelly to the art, "a subversive witchery" that has pushed her to continue doing it throughout the years. 

"There's this notion of puppets being able to speak your uncensored thoughts and nobody's really accountable," she explains. "You didn't say it, you wouldn't have said it, you don't even stand by the things you're putting in the puppet's mouth a lot of the time — it's my duty not to get in the way, even if it makes me squirm." 

In her latest comedy show, In Your Face (kicking off its New York City string of shows next week at the Barrow Street Theatre), Conti takes it one step further and includes her audience members in her act. See below. 

"They're more friendly than puppets, I lonely on tour and I need to make friends somewhere!" Conti jokes. "It's actually amazing because nothing stays still. To improvise in a vacuum, to me, would be a horror show."