Puppet Voices – Changing Your Voice For Ventriloquism

Puppet Voices – Changing Your Voice For Ventriloquism

Puppet voices can be a challenge for new puppeteers and beginner ventriloquists.

Almost every day I receive an email with questions about how to give a puppet a voice:

I need help trying to find a voice for my puppet. What should I do?

Do you have any tips on how to change my voice quickly when talking with my puppet?

How can I create more contrast with my puppet’s voice?

My answer to all these questions is: practice.

Ventriloquism (and puppetry) are not instant gratification arts.

So don’t worry. You will get there! And this article will try to help.

Vocal Differences

When you listen to two people talk, naturally they sound different.

  • One person may be louder than the other.
  • One may have a deeper or higher voice.
  • One may have a certain tone to their voice.
  • One might have an accent.
  • One may have a more expressive voice.
  • One might talk faster than the other.

It is important you start listening for these differences. Those contrasts will help you as you begin to create puppet voices.

Here is an exercise:

Below is a video of the comedy team Abbott & Costello. Start the video, then close your eyes and listen to the voices.

Could you tell the voices apart? Sure you could. They sounded completely different.

Abbott was talking fast, higher and got more upset as the conversation went. Costello was the smooth con man with a deep, rich voice.

Now let’s try it with ventriloquist David Strassman. One person doing multiple voices. There are some visual gags in the clip, but watch it with your eyes closed the first time. Start the video, close your eyes and listen.

One person, but could you hear the distinct voices? Did it sound like more than one person was talking?

(Okay, now you can go back and watch the manipulation if you want …)

We did this to understand that people have different levels, sounds and tempos to their speech patterns.

And it is possible for one person to create the same vocal contrast.

When using this concept with your puppet voice, you can differentiate it from your own. That is important to ventriloquism. You must create the illusion two people are talking.

Note: We recommend short practice periods when starting. It is better to practice 5 minutes 6 times a day, than 30 minutes once. Shorter practices prevent your vocal chords from being damaged. As you gradually strengthen your vocal muscles, longer practices/performances will be possible.


If it is uncomfortable, stop and rest!

Character Voices

How To Give A Voice To Your Puppet.

First lets talk about vocal volumes. It is my feeling the puppet should be louder than the ventriloquist.

That doesn’t mean to yell or scream. Those volumes become very unpleasant to an audience.

You want to project your voice and use more force with the puppet’s voice. This contrast can be helped by lowering the speaking volume of your regular voice during performance.

It will also make the puppet easier to understand.

Changing Your Voice For A Puppet

Perhaps the easiest way to find a level for your puppet’s voice, is to use the scales.

You don’t have to be a singer, but we will use our voices in a similar fashion.

Start with your voice at your normal speaking level. Then we will begin to step up the musical scales:

Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do

When you get to a level that is hard on your voice, drop back down a level or two. Then hold the note and listen to your voice.

Most beginners find their tonal range is comfortable somewhere between Me and La.

Once you find a level that is comfortable, it should become your puppet’s speech level.

Later on, you can use this technique to develop different voices at different levels. Don’t worry about that yet! Work on one puppet voice at a time.

Hear It Like Your Audience

Now that you have a volume and level, record yourself talking in this voice and listen back. You might even try a simple script:

(V = ventriloquist P = puppet)

V – How are you today.

P – Does it sound different than your regular voice?

V – That is why I’m recording this.

P – You should record all of your practices.

V – I know, why don’t you start naming objects in the room. Then I will.

(Go back and forth naming some things – then listen to the recording.)

How does it sound?

Different? Somewhat different?

Close your eyes and listen like with the videos above. Could you imagine two people are talking?

If so, congratulations! You’ve created your first puppet voice.

If not – no problem. Let’s add some things!!!

Fine Tuning Your Puppet Voices

Dialects and accents can add to vocal distinction. The problem most beginner ventriloquists and puppeteers have is keeping the accent consistent.

Remember when I said this stuff takes practice?

You can use a southern hick/redneck accent. A French, Italian, Spanish, English, German, Irish, Scottish or other type of accent. There are a lot of possibilities.

Don’t know how to do an accent?

No problem, that is why YouTube was created.

(Not really, but it works for that!)

You can also change the voice to Nasal. Or pressurize it to create a falsetto voice. Maybe add in a lot of breath to make it airy sounding.

What about a lisp? Or a raspy sound?

Play with these and see what type of voice you can create.

The Voice Before The Puppet …

Many times people will buy a puppet and can’t decide on a voice for it. They struggle because the puppet’s look seems to determine the vocal style.

A voice they might not be able to do.

Not every puppet is right for every person.

I’ve recommended in the past, people develop a Character Profile before buying a puppet.

When you know the background of the character, you have a deeper understanding of the personality. This helps you create a puppet voice that matches.

Once you have a voice and know what the character is, you can now find a puppet that matches your needs.

It will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Finding a puppet voice should be fun!

One great resource for ideas are cartoons from the 1960’s and 70’s. Bugs Bunny, Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo and many others had all sorts of character voices.

So you have my permission to watch TV as your homework.

Study the old cartoon voices. See if you can duplicate any of them.

You don’t want to copy directly, but you may find some ideas that will allow you to create something truly unique!

Then practice.

Practice switching back and forth from your voice to the puppet voice.

Maybe as you are reading. Read one line aloud in your voice, the next in the puppet’s voice.

I recommend you do that alone. Otherwise you may get committed.

Switching back and forth between voices is easy – with plenty of practice.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be able to create different puppet voices for your characters.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you’d like more information on creating puppet/character voices, check out these options:

IVS Radio – Ventriloquism With Mark Wade

IVS Radio – Ventriloquism With Mark Wade

Today, Mark Wade is my guest. Heeeee’s Baaaackkkk! We will be talking about how he got into ventriloquism, from the spark to the learning process to a look at his professional career. A fun episode that will give you plenty of insights and maybe even some ideas.

Mark Wade: How I Started In Ventriloquism

by Maher I.V.S. Radio

In this episode, Mark mentioned the book: Lacy Technique For Salesmanship. (Several copies are still available. I picked one up and absolutely loved it.)

Don’t have time to listen now? Download this episode to your computer, tablet or phone and listen on the go!


Right Click & Save To Download This Episode

Take a moment to leave a note and share your thoughts in the comment section below:

How Do You Become A Great Ventriloquist?

How Do You Become A Great Ventriloquist?

This article is for anyone who truly loves the art of ventriloquism.

If you just like picking up a puppet and playing with it, that is okay. You can still read this. But it may not be much help to you.

Every day I hear from ventriloquists and those interested in becoming one.

Many just like it.

But there are those who want to become great. (Or famous – preferably both.)

So how do you become a great ventriloquist?

You might think I’m going to say practice, and that is a huge part of it.

But there is much more.

I’ll start with advice from Maryan Czajkowski. Who? You may know him better by his stage name, The Great Lester.

In an old copy of the Oracle, (the now defunct I.B.V.’s newsletter) – Lester wrote the words:

“Buy all the books you can …”

Lester went on to say how some of those books were by people who had studied the art for decades and could impart great wisdom and knowledge to the reader.

Other books were written by people who have only been in ventriloquism a few years. They too can impart knowledge, but it is limited by what they have learned in those few years.

Lester also recommended the courses that sell instruction. Whatever you pay for the information, he said, “It is worth the price you pay for it.”

I will go as far as to say “sometimes more!”

Everything is educational

Free tutorials are worth it, free video lessons are worth it, and you will learn things. Even if what NOT to do.

The only bad thing about free is the instructor usually has limited knowledge. (The old saying “You get what you pay for” is often true.) That is when you can develop bad habits that will be hard to break down the road.

But by learning from multiple sources, you can try to avoid those bad habits. You can learn what works best for you.

Think of knowledge as a water hose. Drink from it often and your thirst will be quenched. Only drink enough that your throat is wet and you will find out you begin to get parched again.

The Great Lester used a wonderful example of this.

Imagine if someone wanted to become a doctor or lawyer by just reading a few free books. There is no way you could practice these professions without intense study and knowledge. Do you have any idea how hard a doctor or lawyer studies or how much they must pay for their educational degree?

Yet, said Lester, there are many magicians and ventriloquists in every city and town who try to do just that. How many of them can really put on a show without a deeper understanding of the art?

You must know what came before you. You must know what is going on around you. You must be thinking about the future.

And the only way to do that is to stay abreast of what is going on with and in your art. So how can you study your art? Let’s go back to Lester’s words:


“Buy all the books you can …”

You will learn from all of them if you take the time to read them.

And don’t just read them once. You miss things. You forget things. Read them again as you continue your journey in ventriloquism. You will be surprised by how many new insights you will gain from something you thought you knew.

So what books do we recommend? All of them! There are way too many to list, but I will try to list as many as possible later in this article.

The Great Lester VentriloquistWhen Lester was alive, video and audio were not really options. Today there are DVD’s and online courses available. Again, I recommend them all and will try to list them later.

Each one of them has merit – and learning from many creates a broader understanding than just sitting at the knee of one person.

What about mentors or coaching?


Yes – that is very valuable. But I recommend you have a strong base first. This way the coach can help you overcome areas of difficulty and help you fine tune your skills. It will be a much better use of your hard earned money.

So the first step in becoming a great ventriloquist – a decent and thorough education.

Join The
International Ventriloquist Society

Ventriloquism’s Only International Ventriloquist Organization

But education is only a part of this goal.

You can’t learn to play the piano without study, exercising, experimenting, practicing, and desire.

The same is true for ventriloquism. You can’t just do it. It is a skill that requires effort.

So you study as discussed above and then you must start putting that knowledge to work:

  • You must exercise your vocal abilities. (Although you must do this in moderation so you don’t strain or damage your vocal chords.)
  • You must experiment to create the proper techniques for you.
  • You must practice daily to continue to improve. If you miss a day, you will slide backwards.
  • You must have the desire to actually do this. That alone will keep you moving forward.
  • And you must have talent.

Talent …

That word that so many people fear they don’t have enough of.

I’m here to tell you that you are no different than Edgar Bergen, The Great Lester, Shari Lewis, Jeff Dunham or Terry Fator. They were born, grew up and did amazing things.

You were born too. And you have the same opportunity to learn and grow if you want. No matter what your background.

Even if you are broke, you can start with free tutorials, practice, experiment, do shows and earn money to continue your education.

No puppet?

Ronn Lucas entertains audiences with a sock. It isn’t the puppet – it is what you as a performer does with it.

And talent can be achieved.

How? By getting in front of audiences. A lot. Different audiences, different ages, different sizes, different places and different groups.

Then you must study. What did the audience respond to? What could you do better? What should you change?

Then you must go back to experiment and practice. Do another show – wash and repeat. A lot!

This is the ONLY way to become great. Shows. Lots of them. Even if they aren’t paid. If you want to be good, you must get in front of audiences.

Then you must give yourself an honest evaluation to improve and grow.

Then you must reveiw your books and lessons to see if you can get even better.

It is a cycle. If you have the desire and are willing to take massive action, you can do it.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

Below is a listing of books and other ventriloquism materials I found. I obviously don’t expect you to purchase everything – or even purchase anything right now. But I do recommend you invest in your education of the art over time, and build a healthy resource from different sources to improve your understanding of this art!

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please let us know in the comments below…

Magical Eddie & His Puppets | Eddie Siller

Magical Eddie & His Puppets | Eddie Siller

Eddie & Ozzie

Eddie Siller and his puppets make family friendly magic and ventriloquism in Arizona and are a hit at library shows.

Eddie began ventriloquism at around 8-10 years old with a Danny O’Day doll and Jimmy Nelson record; Christmas gifts he nearly wore out with endless practicing. Discovering the N.A.A.V. and Clinton Detweiler, Eddie enjoyed reading of the vent community in the Newsy Vents newsletter.

31 years from the Danny O’Day Christmas, Eddie’s magic shows kept him busy but his inner ventriloquist wanted stage time. The large rabbit puppet bombed hugely due to insufficient practice.

Deeply impressed by the work of Jeff Dunham, especially the strength and aliveness of his characters, Eddie avidly followed Jeff’s career. A 2010 Jeff Dunham live performance inspired Eddie and he told his wife it was time he got serious about learning ventriloquism.

This time Eddie looked up Clinton Detweiler and completed both the basic and advanced Maher Ventriloquism courses. In spite of copious practice, Eddie desired greater technique. Tom Crowl’s Learn- Ventriloquism course provided that breakthrough in technique. Eddie added a custom alien puppet for the class and soon Zek was delighting audiences.

Eddie & Zek at Vent Haven

Inspired, Eddie added more voices, scripts, and characters: blue horned monster-Ozzie, skunk-Scooch, baby dinosaur-Smudgey

Noodles, brown dog-Spike, and, the only hard figure, Eddie’s hispanic buddy Alonso.

In 2016 and 2018, Eddie attended the Vent Haven ConVENTion. The family atmosphere, where beginners and seasoned performers conversed as equals, touched him deeply.

“With Tom’s course, the help of other vents, and of course practice; I am having more fun than ever.”

— Eddie Siller

Eddie & Spike go for a ride

Contact Eddie Siller:
Phone: (928) 710-1080
Website: MagicalEddie.wix.com/idokidsmagic
Email: magicaleddie@gmail.com

Video of Eddie and Zek taken in 2017 at the Southwest Ventriloquist Club gathering.

This article was written by I.V.S. Member and contributor Ann Seeton.

The Online Ventriloquist Hall Of Fame

The Online Ventriloquist Hall Of Fame

Announcing The Online Ventriloquist Hall Of Fame

There are halls of fame for almost everything. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Football Hall of Fame, the Boxing Hall of Fame … they even have a Little League Hall of Fame.

Ventriloquists had nothing.

Sure, we have Vent Haven Museum. But that is a museum, not a hall of fame.

Before his death, Clinton Detweiler had put out collections of Hall Of Fame Coins. They are wonderful collectibles and can be hard to get now.

Since Maher started to lead the way, I decided to continue the tradition by creating the online Ventriloquist Hall Of Fame. And it will be hosted right here – at the home of the International Ventriloquist Society.

The first ten inductees have been posted.

I chose people not only for fame in our community, but who have genuinely influenced the art. People who have made a difference.

Each inductee has a fairly in depth biography. There are pictures, and when possible, a video slider which will allow people to view many of their videos right here in the Hall Of Fame.

I invite you to check it out. Click on the plaques of each honoree to learn more about them.

I want the Ventriloquist Hall Of Fame to be educational and help people learn about the past (and present) of our art. My hope is this will grow and bring more people to our site.

With the goal of promoting our art form in a positive light.

Ventriloquists are not the weird people playing with dolls that much of the media has portrayed us.

Our community consists of many dedicated individuals who practice long hours and work hard to entertain audiences.

And it is time we begin to honor those who have paved the way for the future. If we don’t start now, many may be lost to time.

And so, welcome to the International Ventriloquist Society’s Ventriloquist Hall of Fame. Please take a few minutes to go inside and look around.

And check back, as things are just getting started.