Ventriloquism Basics

Ventriloquism Basics

Taken from my ventriloquism book, I Know What You Know Adventures in Gospel Ventriloquism.

Basically the basics of ventriloquism are not that difficult.  Ventriloquism is basically an illusion – the illusion that a voice is coming from the ventriloquists figure (puppet, dummy or to whatever he gives a voice). This entails two concepts: one, the use of substituting sounds, and two, misdirection.  The ventriloquist employs his skill to distract the audience’s focus off of him and onto the figure.

To draw the attention to the figure the ventriloquist uses a voice different from his own that seems appropriate for the figure and he also endeavors to make the figure appear lifelike. For example, study the movements of a monkey and then apply them to make your monkey puppet more believable; a real monkey never stops looking around, gazing up in the air, or snooping in a pocket. If possible, have someone video tape your performance so that you can scrutinize whether you are achieving your goal or not.  Years ago, I had the privilege of giving one of my skits prior to a well-known evangelist’s message. I thought I did a superb job until I saw a video of it later; the fact that I used unnatural movements embarrassed me. May I say, it is better to find this out early to reduce or prevent future humiliation and to do a job that will glorify our Savior.

To draw attention away from himself the ventriloquist learns to substitute sounds so that his lips do not move. The problem sounds are B F M P V and W. We use our lips to pronounce them.  Therefore, the ventriloquist must find a way to change the way he pronounces these sounds. It will sound strange to you at first, but people hear what they expect to hear and usually won’t notice the substitutions. I use a D for the B, a hard TH sound for the F, an N for the M, a T for the P, a soft TH sound for the V and an OOOO for the W (pronounce where as oo-air). The concept is easy, but it takes practice to pull it off.

Once you have the technique down and learn how to misdirect the audience’s attention, you are on your way.  I recommend memorizing the skits so that they flow more naturally, but just in case nerves affect your memory, pin a small piece of paper with an outline of the skit on the figure’s back, no one will know it’s there but you.

Ventriloquism isn’t difficult, but it takes practice, practice, practice to perfect.


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