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Ventriloquism for Beginners/Dummies: Learn How to Be a Good Ventriloquist

Photo by Steve Crocker - www.stevecrocker.co.uk

Photo by Steve Crocker - www.stevecrocker.co.uk

Ventriloquism is a performance art where the ventriloquist (sometimes called a puppeteer) projects his or her voice to an object to make it sound as if the object is speaking and not the performer. A ventriloquist does this by learning to manipulate the sounds of their speech and by learning to speak without moving their lips.

Ventriloquism is a mind trick, first and foremost. The ventriloquist uses a prop in the form of a dummy, using their hand to maneuver the mouth of the dummy. Doing this tricks the viewer into believing that the sound came from the dummy's mouth, when really it comes from the ventriloquist.

Learning to Talk Without Moving Your Lips

The first thing a budding ventriloquist needs to learn is how to speak without moving his or her lips. It sounds hard, and it really is. The vowel sounds are the easy part, so let's try that first:

  • Close your mouth.
  • Relax your jaw.
  • Now only very slightly part your lips, rest your bottom lip against your teeth just a bit, to keep it steady
  • Say the vowels: a e i o and u
  • Say them slow, fast, then add accents of all kinds - you can do it, even a three year old can!

The rest comes with practice, and it's almost like learning to speak all over again. Just remember, relax your jaw, only very slightly part your lips, and the rest will come.

How to throw your voice

Choosing your "voice"

The Dummy

A carpenter has a hammer and nails, a painter has canvas and brushes, and a ventriloquist has the ability to throw his or her voice and... a dummy!

Choosing your dummy is like choosing your style of clothing or your haircut, as a ventriloquist it becomes a part of who you are. Since the object is to use the dummy to divert the attention of your audience away from the odd shape your mouth makes when you throw your voice, it's best to use a dummy which is eye catching.

The best way to figure out what kind of dummy to use first is to take a look at yourself and your interests. For instance, if you're a person with a bright and energetic personality who is always on the go, consider using an old man or woman dummy for your first. This will help you to get over that "first show" hurdle of getting people to pay attention to your dummy by creating a wide gap between yourself and it.

There are many resources for acquiring a ventriloquist's dummy, beyond the hard task of making your own (called puppetmaking.)

Here are just a few:

The Punchline

Beyond being a form of illusion, ventriloquism gives a person the chance to become something else for a little while. You have the unique opportunity to use your whole personality with just a few words thrown into a variety of dummies. So aside from learning how to make funny voices, how to project your voice and how to appeal to your audience visually as well as verbally, it is important to have entertaining material. The backbone of your act is not the words you say - but rather how you say them!

One last tip for the beginner ventriloquist: Write up some comedic material, and practice it! Don't be afraid of anything - if anything goes wrong, blame it on the dummy.

Have a great story about ventriloquists or ventriloquism? Are you a ventriloquist yourself? Talk about it here!

LilQuietOne44 on April 15, 2010:

I learned a great deal about ventriloquism just recently from a documentary that includes some of the biggest starts today - "I'm No Dummy" - Jeff Dunham, Jay Johnson, Mallory Lewis, and even the legendary Jimmy Nelson appear with clips of their performances. It captivated my attention!

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on March 24, 2009:

Steve - many apologies on that count, I did a google image search for "ventriloquist" and copied the link to the first high res image I could find that was listed as creative commons. I will see what I can do about providing you the link from which I received the picture, but have credited you as the artist.

I think, too, that you really captured the ventriloquist well, the image is very poetic in a way. :) Thank you for stopping by and letting me know, no harm at all was intended in the use of the image.

steve crocker on March 24, 2009:

I am the photographer whose image of the ventriloquist you have used without permission. All my images are protected by copyright. I always persue copyright violations but in this case I can see you are not using my image for financial gain so please either remove the photo or credit me steve crocker www.stevecrocker.co.uk and I will take the matter no further.

Social Conscience from Earth - Where are YOU from? on September 14, 2008:

gamergirl - this is a great hub. Wow, this is still a difficult skill to perform - all those consonants after mastering the vowels. I have a lot of practicing to do. Thanks for the beginner info.

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on April 20, 2008:

Very Interesting material. But, it still looks like it would be hard to learn.

lady luck from Boston on April 11, 2008:

GREEAAATTT HUB!!! I WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING ABOUT THIS, TALK ABOUT A NICHE TOPIC!! THANKS FOR THE COMMENT <333 YOU!!

Whitney from Georgia on April 10, 2008:

Great guide. I've tried ventriloquism before, it's hard.

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on April 10, 2008:

Great hub! Not sure I'm ready for a new career in ventrioquism--but it was a fun read:-) You are so creative. Thumbs up!

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on April 10, 2008:

Oh my goodness thank you! :D

craigan from United States on April 10, 2008:

This is good stuff!!!

donnaleemason from North Dakota, USA on April 10, 2008:

Well, I think I got the vowels down, will practice throwing my voice. Great hub. Donna

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on April 10, 2008:

Haha!! Compu-smart, that's hilarious! A compu-ventriloquist!

Tony Sky from London UK on April 10, 2008:

Great hub Gamegirl..I have always had a soft spot for ventriloqism..and guess what?.... i typed all this without moving my fingers!!:D

Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on April 10, 2008:

Maddie - thank you for putting up the request! I have been sitting on this for a couple days, tweaking and modifying. :) I'm happy you enjoyed it.

SirDent - you too! Thank you so much for swinging by. I had a similar impression when I chose the picture.. he he he

SirDent on April 09, 2008:

Nice hub with great advice. I can't figure out why for some reason I thought I saw George Bush on the man's lap in the first picture. I believe I need to get my eyes checked.

Maddie Ruud from Oakland, CA on April 09, 2008:

You ROCK, gamergirl. Thanks for answering my request so well. Just don't look for any video demonstrations from me any time soon...

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