What makes a good sideshow "talker"

Ward Hall is a sideshow legend -- magician, fire-eater, sword swallower, and famed "talker" responsible for luring carny patrons into the ten-in-one. Sixty years after he first took the midway stage, here's Hall talking about what makes a good talker. After the jump, Mr. Hall on "building the tip," gathering a curious crowd. Step right up!


  1. Ward has more than few years on Steve Martin :) in show biz and otherwise

    Beyond all his talents and the incredible work he put in keeping World of Wonders rolling around the country, Ward probably stands out most for being such a genuinely nice guy. I’ve had the opportunity to share stages with him and hang out with him on a few occasions. If you want to do any sort of live entertainment, just being around him provides a priceless education if you pay attention.

    1. Lobster: All the audio seems to be in the left speaker channel only; might be something with your audio setup or equipment.

  2. Excellent pair of videos. I wasn’t interested as much in the content of his speech so much as listening to a man who has made his living from his voice and public speaking ability for decades. What a pro – perfect diction and grammar, almost no disfluencies in his speech (saying ums or ahs or hesitations), excellent intonation. Just listening to the sound of his voice is pleasant in and of itself.

  3. doh. i thought the post said “what makes a good SLIDEshow talker”…no wonder the video was confusing me.

  4. The guy in the top hat at the beginning of the video is Mike Vitka. Mike was my best friend growing up outside of Boston. We met when I answered a poster he plastered a ‘Wanted: Star Trek Mego action figures for sale or trade’ poster all over school when we were in 4th grade. He has one of the biggest collections of Kenner star wars figures Ive ever seen, and almost EVERY He-man Masters of the Universe figure. He bought a gorilla suit and we used to take the train to Harvard Square and pan handle while playing the bongos. Our sign read “will work for bananas”. We made $150 in two hours. Thrilled to see he’s made an appearance here. Just say’n….

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