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Topic: How to learn
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Jun 10, 2008 07:16AM)
Ok, maybe you have heard the question like a thousand of times... but really: how can I learn the art of ventriloquism?
And do you think that it is different doing it in english or in another language (let say, in italian?). The sounds of the languages are different, so maybe a book, or dvd which teaches you how to reproduce certain sounds with your mouth closed doesn't work for all languages...
Just curious about it, I have seen a lot of performances lately and I would love to learn something more about this awesome art :)

Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 10, 2008 07:35AM)

You will need books, DVD's and most of all a puppet/figure so you can actually try it out. Another important thing you need is dedication and interest...if you are interested enough...you will learn :)
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Jun 10, 2008 08:38AM)
Can you suggest me some books or DVDs ?
Before buying a real puppet I think I will begin playing with a sock and 2 buttons for eyes :)


Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 10, 2008 09:18AM)
Start with the first topic on this forum. It is pinned there for a reason. It provides great information on learning the art. Although different languages have different sounds - the sounds can be made with still lips - so learning the basics in English would allow you to translate into Italian.

When I started, I used the Paul Winchell DVD to learn the hard letters - B,F,M,P & V. Paul's method for these was recommended to me by Ken Groves - a technically perfect vent. Ken's Basketball in Boston routine is a wonder to behold. So when he said Winchell - I knew that was the way to go.

I also used the Maher course because it was laid out for beginners, had fun exercises and helped me measure my progress. There is no magical bullet for talking without moving the lips. It is lots of practice. Then more practice - in fact, you don't really stop practicing - but it is fun to do.

Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 10, 2008 09:30AM)
I also like the Paul Winchell video because its both informative and entertaining :)

You can start with a sock puppet...that's cool :)
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 10, 2008 09:37AM)
I'm so fortunate to have acquired a Paul Stadelman journal from a magician friend here in Manila (Wizzo) :)

I believe it was downloaded over the internet but I don't really know where...

Try looking for it...it's worth the effort.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 10, 2008 10:30AM)
Wanlu -
That may have been the original Tribute To Ventriloquism at:


Click on the documents link and there is a load of downloadable documents.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 10, 2008 10:35AM)
Thanks Tom :)

There you have it Roland...the download is really worth the effort :)

Try it...
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 10, 2008 03:12PM)
Roland78...I've said this numerous times but here it is again...don't let the obstacles of Technical perfection stop you from moving forward! Many top name Vents move their lips. Past: Edgar Bergan. Waylon Flowers etc. Currently one of the most popular acts in Vegas has no qualms about flapping his lips. It is the material that can over come that when you are learning. You don't need to drink a half gallon of water while singing opera to show off your skills. Make 'em laff...Get out there and do it no matter how much you flub at lip control. Eventually (or not) you'll get the hang of it and be good at it like Tom Crowl and Wanlu...meanwhile you can suck at it like me and be not ashamed. haha. I'm a puppeteer...at least that's what I tell 'em. (I learned that from Waylon.) And I use that in the routines...I even have a bit where I'm obviously talking for both of 'us' and the puppets mouth doesn't move...probably everybody has that bit.

If you obtain the skills, you can be proud and a real ventriloquist and if not get out there anyway...you have a GREAT Italian puppeteer tradition to cary on. Just ask Gepetto.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 10, 2008 03:38PM)
Doug -
Did you ever think there was a reason you can't see me clearly in some of my videos? ;)

Lip control comes with time AND practice, but the real skill is entertaining the audience! I agree with Mr. Higley on this one.
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Jun 11, 2008 02:12AM)
Thanks everybody for the suggestions.
I admit I didn't see the first "donut" topic on the forum sorry. It provided a lot of informations and links.
Thanks for the links to the 2 PDFs on ventriloquism, I'll print and read them asap.
Oh, and Doug, you are right: italians have a great tradition with puppets, from Pinocchio to our days: in Sicily there are awesome masters of puppet art, but they specialize in the puppet theatres, like with wired puppets (a la Being John Malkovitch) or they move them from below with hands and sticks.
Sadly, there's not such a tradition with ventriloquism. Actually the only ventriloquist I remember is Jose Luis Moreno (and he was spanish, but very famous on italian tv) with his puppet Rockfeller, a multi-millionar crow. But since 80s I haven't seen him anymore, nor I have seen other vents.

Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 11, 2008 03:59AM)
My lip control sucks too Doug :) But that never made me stop doing ventriloquism...and I improve more and more after every practise :) I'm guessing in the next 10 years or so, my lip control will be flawless. :) okay maybe 12 years...

Roland, you will eventually get the hang of it...if you like what you are doing.

Wanlu :)
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 11, 2008 04:37AM)

Here is Jose and Rockefeller.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Dec 24, 2008 08:20PM)
The perfect solution for my lousy lip control :)

Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Dec 24, 2008 09:15PM)
The whole lip control issue gets out of hand. I too am not perfect at the lip control thing but I am entertaining and that's my main job as I see it.

You know who will make the most cracks about lip control? Sadly a lot of your fellow vents.

I have come to realize that I don't work for my fellow vents, so they don't bother me anymore.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Dec 24, 2008 09:28PM)
On 2008-12-24 22:15, Neale Bacon wrote:

...You know who will make the most cracks about lip control? Sadly a lot of your fellow vents.

I have come to realize that I don't work for my fellow vents, so they don't bother me anymore.

That is so true Neale... I'm glad somebody shares my sentiments. :)
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Dec 26, 2008 12:56AM)
Doug, Neale and Wanlu are right about this I believe. Lip control is only one of the tools in a ventriloquists toolbox and not the most important one, in my opinion. I believe that the ability to make the audience laugh and to believe in the character is the main goal of the ventriloquist, and lip control is only one of the methods a vent employs to do this. Ventriloquism is the magic trick that everybody knows the method. It's like performing cups and balls at a magic club meeting. Everybody knows how it's done, technically, the important part is how it's done.. by you. Can you do it well enough that lip control becomes irrelevant. Maybe it's good, maybe not, but everything else works so well that nobody's paying attention to your lips anyway. That's when your getting the job done, when people are believing in the character despite the fact that they know exactly how it's done. Anyway... lip control, the ongoing debate. But that's my point of view. It is, however, a fundamental, so work on it anyway. As far as your lip control Wanlu, I've seen your videos, it looks pretty good to me.
On the actual subject of this thread, I used Jimmy Nelson's Instant Ventriloquism to get my start. It's available from Lee Cornell on CD these days. There are any number of ways to learn, lots of CD's, courses, books, DVD's etc.. but that record worked for me. That and practice. Speaking of a sock and two buttons, check out the brilliant work done with these two simple puppets...

Senor Wences and Johnny

Jay Marshall and Lefty