Ventriloquism is the art of making a figure or doll look like it is talking. Whether you want to learn ventriloquism for fun or for a career, you just have to follow a few simple steps. Research and learn about current and past ventriloquists and take performing arts classes. Then create a character, choose a figure, and practice animating it. Work on speaking with your mouth partially closed and projecting your voice, then create a performance or scene for you and the puppet to share. With a little time and dedication, you can learn ventriloquism.
Part 1 of 4: Study Ventriloquism
Step 1. Take ventriloquism lessons
Ventriloquism lessons can provide you with valuable knowledge on how to create characters and express and animate your puppet. Find a performing arts school in your area that offers ventriloquism classes or workshops. If you can't find classes in your area, you can take ventriloquism courses online. Do an internet search to find courses and read reviews to help you choose the most useful course available.
Step 2. Take drama, improv, comedy, or acting classes
Studying any of the performing arts will help you develop a talent for ventriloquism. Taking drama, improv, comedy, or acting classes can give you the confidence and skills you need to become a successful ventriloquist. You'll learn how to cultivate stage presence, perform before an audience, and think on the go.
Step 3. Research famous ventriloquists
Read books and watch videos about ventriloquists to learn all you can about the art. Some of the famous ventriloquists you might want to research include Ronn Lucas, Shari Lewis, Edgar Bergen, Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Paul Winchell, and Jay Johnson. Try going to as many live shows as you can to find out what type of show best suits your own personality and abilities.
Step 4. Go to the Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention if possible
Each year, the Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention is held in Kentucky over the course of 3 days in the summer. If you can do it, this is a great opportunity to meet and interact with new and experienced ventriloquists, including celebrities! The convention also offers courses for children and adults to learn ventriloquism. For more information, go to
Registration for the convention costs $ 145
Part 2 of 4: Developing a Character
Step 1. Choose a character
Spend some time thinking of a funny character that you think you can turn into reality. It is a good idea to make the character something different from your own personality. Contrasting stage personalities will make the performance more interesting and entertaining. However, you are not limited to a human character, a robot, animal or object can work too!
- For example, Jeff Dunham has a figure of a pepper that he calls José Jalapeño.
- If you are shy and conservative, make your character more outgoing and liberal.
Step 2. Create a backstory for the character
To make your character believable and three-dimensional, you will need to spend time developing a backstory. Think about how the character came to be here, with you, on stage for a performance. Consider the character's family, education, socioeconomic status, religion, experiences, likes, dislikes, goals, and dreams.
- For example, maybe your character comes from a religious family in the great south.
- Alternatively, your character can be an Egyptian prince.
Step 3. Choose a figure that matches the character
The figure can be an animal, a person or an object, so let your creativity shine when choosing a figure. For starters, a simple sock can work well, and then you can move on to felt figures and carved puppets. Choose a figure whose mouth you can move and that can also be animated in another way, such as waving your eyebrows or raising your hand.
- If you've chosen a sports fanatic for your character, a human figure dressed in soccer pads and a jersey will work just fine.
- Search online for a wide range of shapes available.
Step 4. Practice animating the puppet
It will take a while to get familiar with the puppet, so you will have to practice the realistic movement of the puppet's mouth and other parts. The goal is to make the puppet come to life. Take the puppet with you to school, while running errands or visiting friends and family. Practice getting the puppet to talk and move while you talk to other people so you can practice without the added stress of performing a comedic routine.
For example, have the puppet raise his eyebrows when he asks a question or considers something. Move the puppet's head to nod when he agrees to something
Part 3 of 4: Giving Your Puppet a Voice
Step 1. Choose a ventriloquist voice
A ventriloquist voice is a voice for the puppet. The ventriloquist voice should sound different from your own voice to make it more believable. Your puppet may have an accent or use slang that is different from yours. The ventriloquist voice can also be slower or faster than your own voice.
For example, if your puppet is a girl from the valley, have her say "I like" frequently and have an enthusiastic voice
Step 2. Practice speaking without moving your lipsAs you look in the mirror, smile with your lips parted and your teeth lightly touching. Practice moving your tongue. If you can see your tongue move, adjust your smile until you can't see it move. Work on saying the letters a, c, d, e, g, h, i, j, k, l, n, o, q, r, s, t, u, x, and z without moving your lips.
For the more complicated letters, you will make substitutions. Say d for b, "eth" for f, n for m, t for p, "thee" for v, and "oi" for w and y
Step 3. Learn to project your voiceProjecting your voice means making it seem like you are not speaking. To make your voice sound away from your body, start by taking deep breaths through your nose. Raise your tongue so that it almost touches the top of your mouth to create a dull sound. Contract your stomach muscles and speak as you breathe out slowly. Practice speaking this way as much as possible until it feels natural and convincing.
Part 4 of 4: Take a Performance
Step 1. Create a dialogue for a scene
You will need to create original material for your scene, rather than choosing jokes that people have already heard. Work to create an original scene with compelling back-and-forth dialogue between you and the puppet. Pick a topic that people can relate to, such as family vacations, relationships and romance, or traffic jams.
Study how people talk to each other to find out where to incorporate sighs, pauses, and words like "mmm" or "this" to pause
Step 2. Direct the audience's eye toward the puppet when he is "speaking."
What makes ventriloquism work is the fact that people will associate the sound they hear, which is your voice, with the movement they see, which must be the puppet's mouth, rather than your own mouth. So when the puppet speaks, move your mouth and make gestures to get the audience's attention.
For example, raise the puppet's arm when he says "Yo, yo, yo!", Or make him fall when you give bad news
Step 3. Practice in the mirror or record yourself
Once you've created a dialogue for a scene, practice it in the mirror or record your image and watch the video later. Take note of which words or sentences look and sound credible, and which ones don't. Pay attention to the appearance of your puppet as you move it and try to make it look as real as possible.
Step 4. Perform for the audience
If you are having fun on stage, the audience is likely to have fun too. Let your passion for ventriloquism shine through. Speak as loud and clear as you can, and don't forget to use facial expressions and gestures for yourself and your puppet. Make eye contact with audience members or even include them in the performance!