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.
When 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.
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.
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.
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!
Books On Learning Ventriloquism
Ventriloquism: Magic with Your Voice
Ventriloquism for the Total Dummy
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Ventriloquism – (Highly Recommended)
So You Want To Be A Ventriloquist
Art Of Ventriloquism: How To Throw Your Voice
VENTRILOQUISM: Guess Who’s Talking?
A Complete Guide to Ventriloquism: Principles, Practice and Performance
Ventriloquism for Fun and Profit
Ventriloquism: Art, Craft, Profession
Ventriloquism As A Hobby And How To Make It Pay
Other Books On Ventriloquism
The Great Lester: Ventriloquism’s Renaissance Man
All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and Me
I Can See Your Lips Moving: The History and Art of Ventriloquism
Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism
Other Voices: Ventriloquism from B.C. to T.V.
Vent Haven Museum: Its Past, Present, and Future
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