As a rule be more loquacious in your natural voice than in the ventriloquial voice. This will cause you less fatigue and the audience appreci­ates most that which it gets the least.

When you have got the man down from the roof you may send him away on a level by com­pressing the vocal cords and throwing the voice backward, as it were, speaking neither against the palate nor down the throat. ” Good-night ” are the best words for this effect, ” Good-morn­ing,” ” Good-evening ” or ” Good-bye ” being im- practicable. Close your dialogue in some such manner as follows:

Vent. That is all I want of you, and you may go now. Goodnight.

Jack. Goodnight. {A little fainter.)

Vent. Goodnight. {Loud natural.)

Jack. Goodnight. {Still fainter)

Vent. Goodnight. {Almost shouting.)

Jack Goodnight, ha, ha, ha! (Very faint indeed.)

 

As your own voice becomes louder and the ventriloquial voice fainter, the pauses between the salutations are longer, as would naturally happen were you really calling to a departing caller or workman when, after the last faint, far-away cry you would yell and the answer would be inau­dible. Besides giving, by contrast, greater effectiveness to the ventriloquial voice in this manner, it is necessary in order to fully carry out the deception, as it must be made to appear that the man could not hear your own calls unless you uttered them in an increasingly louder voice as he went away.

 

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If the student has faithfully followed the pre­ceding instructions he should by this time have attained considerable facility in the imitation of near articulate sounds as employed with figures, and have developed considerable capacity for creating the distant sounds that form the art to which was originally applied the term Ven­triloquism. In fact, he should now be able not only to imitate near voices in caricature, but also to ” throw ” his voice into a box or closet, to the room above and the cellar below, and to cause it to appear gradually to ascend from a level or the basement to the floor or roof above (by simply reversing the method given for making it seem to descend), and even to approach from a distant point on a level until it sounds close at hand, or recede until it is heard no more.

He is therefore now ready to amalgamate these accomplishments to produce a natural effect, or what is a humorous travesty of nature, for enter­tainment purposes. The utterance of sounds with an unmoved countenance is one step toward this end, and the requisite subtlety and device neces­sary to ventriloquial acting, is again another, as is also the proper selection of a ventriloquial vocabulary.

The importance of a right vocabulary can easily be seen by trying to say without moving the lips a sentence containing a number of ” p’s ” or ” b’s ” like ” the persistent pertinacity of the priesthood,” and though you try for a century the effort will not be fully satisfactory. If, on the other hand, you attempt such phrases as “Hullo, down there,” “Yes, I’m here,” “Good­night to you,” you will find no difficulty. Avoid, therefore, as much as possible those words in which occur labial sounds, or letters which can only properly be pronounced by aid of the lips. By substituting for such sentences as trouble you those which may be pronounced without aid of the lips, you have the key to the prevention of any difficulty of this kind which you may expe­rience. Arrange such sentences as do not require labial pronunciation and practice these before a mirror until you can employ ventriloquism, either” Near” or ” Distant” without change of coun­tenance.

For more how to ventriloquist secrets click here

 

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The more artistic plan, however, is to keep your face toward the audience all the time, or at least in profile, and this should always be done on a stage. Stand with your left side to the au­dience and, throwing your head back, look directly upward toward the spot from which you wish the voice to sound. This pose carries conviction to the spectators, because it is the one that would naturally be taken when talking with some one overhead.

The two voices, which have already been elucidated form the basis for nearly every effect pos­sible in ventriloquism. For instance, the first voice (which we will call No. 1) may be used for a box, closet or door effect, as already explained; while if you wish to imitate the sound of a person shouting from the opposite side of a river or road­way, you would use the voice for the “man on the roof,” which we will label No. 2. In this case, however, it should be made a little louder than when apparently heard through an inter­vening obstacle like a ceiling or a wall.

 

These two voices may, in fact, be used in various ways, and formed into many apparently dissimilar voices by contraction and expansion of the glot­tis and by shortening or lengthening the cavities of the mouth and the throat. By making contor­tions of the mouth and voice in a room alone, the student will get a better idea than any descrip­tion can give him of the many peculiarities of sound and effect which may be created while holding the jaws and tongue in the manner neces­sary to produce the drone.

 

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The voice and dialect most appropriate for the Colored figure should be studied from nature or from close imitations of the real thing as given by burnt-cork comedians. The characteristic ” e-yah ” laugh is often the principal use of this figure, being given occasionally as an interrup­tion at amusing points in the dialogue.

 

As to others, of course there is no limit to those which an ambitious ventriloquist may adopt at different times and only a few suggestive hints can be given here concerning the principal ones.

 

The Yankee farmer often proves amusing if brightly done. The accepted Yankee, as he is ordinarily depicted, has the twang he inherits from his early ancestors; he ” guesses ” and ” cal­culates,” and indulges in exaggerated humor in which allusions to death and physical injury are relied upon to provoke mirth. In case of a farmer, pure and simple, his tribulations in the city, usually New York, are the theme of his con­versation, and a good song for him is ” Reuben Haskins of Skowhegan, Maine.”

It perhaps may as well be mentioned here that appropriate songs play no small part in a ven-triloquial entertainment, although in some ex­hibitions of the kind too many are used. One for the Irish boy or Colored and one for the Old Man or Old Woman are none too many, however, but where three or four are used in a twenty or twenty-live-minute performance, the audience may think it is getting too much of a good thing. Two old standbys for the Old Man figure are ” The Old Turnkey ” and ” If I Were as Young as I Used to Be.” Something more modern, however, al­ways bearing in mind that the song chosen should be written for a bass voice and in slow time, would be better. A familiar one for the Old Lady is “Darling I am Growing Old.” A very good effect may be obtained by having this song rendered as a trio by the Old Lady and the Irish and Colored figures, each taking an alternate line or two. Such a feat requires considerable prac­tice to make perfect, because of the constant change of voice. One ventriloquist makes a specialty of ” Roll On, Silver Moon ” for his Irish boy, the chorus of which he sings with a yodel effect. Usually, however, this figure sings a popular humorous ditty.

 

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Ventriloquist Puppets – Part 4 – The Arms

Upon slackening the string the face assumes its normal expression (Fig. 4).

 

    fig 4

 

 

 

The bent wire in the arm can be used with any figure, provided the puppet is on a level with the performer, so that its manipulation is concealed. While standing by the side of the Colored with his arm back of the figure, the manipulator may cause the lat­ter to touch his (the performer’s) chin with its hand and at the same time give utterance to this sage re­mark, ” Nice massa needs er shave, deed he do,” or any other equally wise observation that   the action suggests.

Dancing Coloredes do not properly belong to a ventriloquial entertainment, but they may be used to create a few moments’ diversion from the regular thing and at the same time give the per­former a little rest from vocal effort.

They can be worked from a distance by a cord or from behind a screen by pedals attached to the heels of the figure.    A still better plan is to work the feet by wires running through the trousers legs from the heel and coming out under the coat tails, which conceal the hands as they pull the wires. The feet are such as marionettes have, the joint and weighted toe giving the double rap of the clog dancer.

 

By means of a rubber tube, large enough to hold a cigarette or cigar, fitting into the mouth and running through the back of the neck to a rubber-bulb, the representative of Dark Town society may be made to puff away like a veteran smoker. This feat may be made more effective by working the mouth with a treadle and allow­ing the figure to place the cigar, held between his fingers, in his mouth himself and take it at will. Of course the wife which lifts the arm will have to be manipulated in such a manner as to insure the cigar’s entering the end of the hidden tube; the mouth being shut down upon it helps to re­tain it as the hand, which may be a tightly stuffed black cotton glove, is allowed to drop, although by forcing the fingers around the cigar and opening the mouth the weed can be removed. The wire to the arm gives complete control of all movements, but practice is necessary to insure a precision of action.

 

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Ventriloquist Puppets – Part 13 – Arranging

There are countless other ways in which your figures may be arranged. You might have the representation of a police court, and as the judge work from behind your desk a miscellaneous as­sortment of characters, including policemen, wit­nesses, culprits and hangers-on; or you could act as the teacher of a district school with your fig­ures as scholars. You might even make yourself the interlocutor of a small minstrel troupe by blacking your face, and using a pair of false arms that would allow your real ones to work the strings for the rest of the company.

 

Before leaving this part of the subject, we will consider briefly some of the animal automata which are occasionally used by the ventriloquial entertainer. Of these the cat is the most com­mon, and may be made to spit, yowl and claw in the most lifelike manner, the spitting and yowl­ing of course being supplied by the performer.

 

A French ventriloquist who appeared in America a few years ago, carried with him a large papier-mâché cow which opened its mouth and moo’d quite naturally. A dummy parrot suggests nothing unreal when used for ventriloquy, and as much entertainment can be obtained from it as from a real one, which is saying a great deal and if you can give a good imitation of a barking dog you might have the figure of such an animal interrupt the dialogue instead of having the Colored do this.

 

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Note how the same sound differs when the hands are removed and observe how it is ob­scured when the ears are again stopped. Then with open ears try to imitate the sound which was heard   when they   were muffled.    In this manner try all kinds of tones and noises, and accurately observe their several characteristics. This exercise will bring to the ventriloquist a realization of the range, modulations and capa­bilities of the human voice such as he has never had before. The principal difficulty with the beginner is lack of knowledge concerning the latent possibilities of his own vocal powers, but this can be obviated by practice and the use of the method herein suggested. Because of the fact that ventriloquial effects are produced by using the voice in an unnatural manner, such efforts require greater attention and energy than in ordinary speaking, where the mind is intent upon the subject of the conversation, and the words are uttered without conscious effort.

 

Some one has said that, ” As perspective is to the eye, so is ventriloquism to the ear,” meaning that as the eye is deceived by the skill of the artist in so painting a landscape as to give the effect of distance, although the whole composi­tion is limned on a perfectly flat surface, so the ventriloquist deludes the ear by speaking in such a manner that the voice appears in the distance, although created close at hand.

 

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The idea is to make the sound as far back in the pharynx as possible, and to prevent it from rising into the cavity of the mouth by compress­ing the vocal mechanism. Note well that this voice is low-pitched and is not exploded against the palate as in voice No. 2, or simply muffled as in voice No. 1.

In other words, you always send the sound originating in the larynx in the direction from which you desire it to come—if from above you pitch it high and force it against the roof of the mouth, or hard palate; if from near at hand you make it near by confining it in the cavity of the mouth; and if from below you pitch it low and send it downward. From this it follows that the ordinary drone effect represents distance, while the method used in the projection of that sound suggests direction. In developing these voices, use the vowel and consonant exercise already rec­ommended before taking up the vocabulary.

 

Some ventriloquists use one distance voice for every effect, and in justification of this plan ex­plain that it is so difficult to execute the distant voice in different keys that, where it is desirable to introduce a number of characters, it is best to do it by transition. That is, they alter the nat­ural tones of the voice so as to make a very ap­parent distinction between it and the mimetic voice. This can be done so skilfully that the audience will not realize the change, and enthusiastically declare this to be one of the great­est secrets of the art.

 

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The Ventriloquist Comeback Debate Continues

I have just come across and interesting article in Herald Scotland by Susan Swarbrick where she discusses the recent rise in the popularity of the ventriloquist, after a few years out in the cold especially in UK. Especially with the recent huge success of Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator in the US and worldwide.

In the article she interviews 3 UK based ventriloquists :-

Nina Conti, daughter of Tom Conti and a classically trained actress (every article ever written about her mentions this I think).  In the interview she talks about Monk ventriloquist puppet and how she came to choose him. Also included is how she got started and how she learnt ventriloquism.

Next is Keith Orton who along with his green-feathered, nappy-wearing sidekick Orville (a green duck) was famous in the 1980s when they had their own show on the BBC from 1982 – 1990 called The Keith Harris Show. And during that time they had a hit single with Orville’s Song. He talks about he got started life after his show finished and how he might be on his way back into the lime light.

The third ventiloquist interviewed is up and coming Chris Young a former trainee solicitor and a Lib Dem candidate in the general election. He want to go into entertaining full-time and see ventriloquism as a way to be able to do this. He thinks there has definitely been a change in attitude towards ventriloquism in recent years.

It is an article definitely worth checking out about 3 talented ventriloquists with lots more interesting information than I’ve written about here – you can find it here -

http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/stage-visual-arts/the-great-ventriloquist-comeback-1.1043779

 

 

 

 

 

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Polyphonism, in its entertainment sense, is the imitation of sounds other than speech, such as the humming of bees, the bleating of sheep, the lowing of cattle, the braying of a donkey, or the noise made by planing, sawing, the drawing of a glass of soda, etc., many of which cannot be made ventriloquially, and so form no deception as to the source from which they emanate. A few general hints will aid you in making a be­ginning, and with practice you can produce most of the imitations with sufficient accuracy simply by following the instructions given.

The Mosquito. —Beginning first with the sim­pler sounds try that made by a mosquito. For this you hold your throat and mouth in exactly the same position as for the ventriloquial drone, only you make the sound very shrill—in fact, at the very highest pitch you can reach—while at the same time straining with the chest.

A Bee. —With the vocal organs in the drone position use considerable pressure upon the chest and make the pitch lower than for the mosquito. Produce a handkerchief, and as you sound the drone chase the imaginary bee about the room. After pretending to catch it, put the handker­chief containing the bee (?) into the pocket. Then, apparently forgetting that it is there, pro­duce the handkerchief and appear to allow the bee to escape.

 

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