How to Become a Ventriloquist

In his quest to find how to become a ventriloquist, the student must work with the throat in the production of the different voices required in figure working.

First comes the “Punch” voice which, as its name indicates, is a close imitation of that used for the puppet Punch in “Punch and Judy” shows. A Punch and Judy performer uses a little instrument (made by winding a narrow piece of cloth or tape over and between two curved pieces of tin) to produce this voice, but this is not allowable for a ventriloquist who stands in full view, and the voice must therefore be produced naturally.

To do this, recall just how the Punch voice sounds or take the first opportunity to listen to a good Punch and Judy performer; or think of the higher notes of a clarinet or the sound of a squeaking door. Then bring the teeth together and stretch the tongue until it touches the roof of the mouth near the back of the front upper teeth.

Then say, “Judy, Judy, where are you, Judy?” in as high a tone as you can command. The position of the tongue throws the sound into the cavity of the nose, thus imparting to the voice the strong nasal quality which is needed. It also has the sound of a high-pitched reed instrument, and the more reedy and metallic you can make it the better.

If the student has difficulty in getting just the right tone, place the tongue as before and say “Th-e-e-e-k,” prolonging the “e’s” and thinking of the punch voice or the sound made by a clarinet, as before.

This voice is utilized for the speech of a querulous old woman and for the imitation of ordinary instruments, the crowing of a bantam, the talk of a parrot, the sound of a mandolin string, the voice of a young child, the mewing of a cat, the bleating of a lamb, etc.

In a little lower key, and less nasal in quality, it may be used for either an Irish or Negro figure. If you can produce it easier than you can the graver voices, adopt it for the figure which carries on most of the dialogue, and vice versa if the deeper voices are more easily made. Always favor yourself in little ways like this as much as possible, as you can do best that which requires the least effort.

When you are starting to know how to become a ventriloquist, once you have acquired facility with the Punch voice, repeat the easy letters of the alphabet in that voice slowly and carefully. Then, after a few minutes’ rest, run them over again, first saying the letter in your natural voice and then in the Punch voice, and so on-alternating each letter in your ordinary tone with the same one in that of Punch. By this means you accustom your throat to instant change from one voice to another.

When you can go through this exercise with ease you may try a little dialogue at a curtain or a Japanese screen:
Vent. “You may not be aware of it, ladies and gentlemen, but I have reason to believe that there is an old woman behind this curtain (or screen).” (You say this with your face turned squarely toward the imaginary audience, then turning toward the screen say quickly in the Punch voice.) “What do ye call me?” A short and amusing conversation should then ensue.

Now the dialogue may not seem very brilliant but if it is rightly done it will have a good effect and prove amusing. After learning it thoroughly and giving it considerable practice, the student may venture to try it before his own family and if they aver that it is “not so bad” he can begin to astonish his friends and acquaintances, and thus make a start toward acquiring fame as a ventriloquist even while he is learning.

You are now ‘on your way.’ to knowing how to become a ventriloquist.

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