Jerry Etherson is performing his ventriloquist act in a nightclub with his "partner" Willie. Willie seemingly has a life of his own, threatening to resign and start his own ventriloquist act. As Jerry finishes "his" act to a round of applause, he gets off stage smothering Willie's with his hand. Willie bites his hand and Jerry runs into his dressing room where he examines the bite marks while Willie watches from the couch.
Jerry's agent Frank comes in and finds Jerry drinking. Frank notes that Jerry promised to kick the habit and that he could be a decent performer if he overcame his drinking and depression. Jerry insists that he drinks because he has to, and that he has to drink because of Willie. He admits that he knows what all the psychologists would claim, that he can't distinguish himself from his dummy. However, he insists to Frank that Willie is alive. Frank warns Jerry that he's got 24 hours to shape up or he's quitting. Jerry insists that Willie is alive and that his other dummy Goofy Goggles isn't. However, Jerry considers Goofy and says that he plans to do a new routine with a different dummy. Frank warns him that he has a show in a half hour and he won't cover for him again, but Jerry is confident he can make it. Frank leaves and Jerry starts practicing, but throws a mirror at Willie when he winks at him.
On stage Jerry performs his new act and it goes well. However, the owner, Georgie, tells Frank that he prefers Willie and he wants Jerry to socialize with the customers. Jerry wraps up his act and flirts with the chorus girls, including Noreen. Confident, he goes to his dressing room and locks Willie in a trunk. Frank comes in and passes on Georgie's request, but Jerry refuses to be a shill for the owner. Frank has enough and quits, although Jerry insists that things will be different now. Frank doesn't believe him and warns that no matter where he goes, he's just running for his problems and he has to "deal" with Willie instead of fleeing.
Jerry heads out for the night with Goofy, but starts to hear Willie in his head, asking him why he's abandoning his partner. Jerry runs out into the alleyway and starts to see Willie in the shadows. Noreen comes by and Jerry desperately asks her to go out with him for a drink, but she runs away in fear when he starts rambling about the voices in his head. Finally Jerry goes back to the club and goes to the darkened dressing room. He takes Willie out of the closet and smashses him to the ground. He turns on the lights... and realizes that he's smashed Goofy. Willie is sitting on the couch and says that Jerry is the one who gave him life by putting words in his mouth. Jerry can only look on in horror as Willie laughs maniacally.
At a different club in a different city, a M.C. introduces the new ventriloquist act of Jerry and Willie. The curtain opens and Willie is now a human being, with Jerry as his dummy.