There has been a lot of discussion about this subject and I thought I would throw in my opinion on the subject. I myself certainly think that if you can do something easily why complicate it ? It was made clear to me in the study of my guitar playing.
I love playing chord melody on my guitar and one of the masters of this style of guitar was a fellow named Barry Galbraith who was a studio musician back in the 1950’s. He was a most talented player but always said that the simpler you make the playing the more you will get out of it. His interpretations of many Standard tunes shows this off.
I think ventriloquism can follow the same route. You should make it as simple as you possibly can and it will reflect a good job with some practice. If you write your script you should try, if possible, to avoid all the sounds that are so hard to do without moving your lips. If the sound is unavoidable then you have no choice but there is always other words to use.
When it comes to manipulating your ventriloquist figure, again simple can be the best. If you have your figure constantly moving for no apparent reason this is no good. If he never moves that too is no good. You have to find that happy medium but again keep it simple.
Functions of a figure can be the biggest thing. Most everyone who is new and gets into ventriloquism sees the figures loaded with functions and wants one that does everything. That is totally understandable but is it necessary to use all the functions? I think not.
In fact most of them are not needed and might never be used. It takes many years of constant practice to find the right dialogue or script where all the different functions are used. You would maybe use wiggling ears once in a routine but how many more times would they be needed? The same for other functions like flip wig or wiggle nose.
Edgar Bergen, who many will say was the best at manipulation of a ventriloquist figure in the twentieth century, used mouth movement only on all of his characters, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd and Effie Klinker. His manipulation was smooth and precise and simple. Moving his figures only when needed.
Many say his lip control was not so good but it didn’t matter because when his figures were talking they were who you looked at not Mr Bergen. He was a master of manipulation. If you are new to ventriloquism I suggest you click on the Tribute To Ventriloquism section and go to the video section and look at the master at work.
Today Jeff Dunham is carrying on this tradition. When He brings out Walter that old man just brings the house down. He has only mouth movement and moving eyebrows but Jeff has mastered the manipulation of Walter and he comes to life.
So to sum up in my opinion simple is for sure the way to go when doing ventriloquism. Do it simple but do it right.
What are your thoughts???
Have you seen the Frank Marshall Tribute DVD, click here
Ventriloquist Central is the brainchild of Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst. Dan is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Steve is a ventriloquist as well as builder of ventriloquist figures. He also has a background in sales, marketing, building websites and computers. Because they both love the art of ventriloquism, the website Ventriloquist Central was born. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2014 by Dan Willinger and Steve Hurst
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I agree, Dan. Every vent has his own way to peform (and I respect it), but I opted to simplify everything in my performances. Ventriloquism per se as an art form is difficult to master, so why complicate the other aspects of performance? My stage set-up is very minimum, usually just one suitcase and a chair (where I put my right foot on) or my figure stand. I use just one or two figures/puppets per show (other times just 3). I used to have a Selberg and a Big Head figure that had at least 6 movements, but I sold them. I since have been using super simple figures now: My Marshall boy that just has moving eyes and a winker (which I don’t use), my Hartz boy that just has a moving mouth and fixed squinted eyes, and my own carved male figure that only has a mouth movement and closed eyes. Yup, Bergen is my peg.
Ony is so right, and I think your Tik figure is the best Marshall ever made.
Thanks, Lee Dean. Coming from you, who personally knew Frank Marshall and saw and used lots of his figures, that’s a priceless compliment. Have a great day!
I find Dan is right about Mr. Bergens wonderful manipulation of the figures. When the figures “spoke” my eyes went right to the figure and I never noticed Mr. Bergens lips move . To me Mr. Bergens figures were as alive as Mr. Bergen himself. That with only moving mouth.
I admit many times over the years I have thought about having a figure that had all the extras, but it was pretty much just for the sake of having one and playing around with it, no serious thought of actually using it.
I remember reading once early on, (sorry, I forget the source), the idea is to make you’re figure look alive and “real”, and how many people can wiggle their nose, or flap their ears, or make their hair flip up, etc. It doesn’t add to making believable the character is real.
Personally for me, in addition to the mouth, I prefer to have moving eyes, and for me, the ideal figure also has blinkers (don’t need separate controls for winkers) because having the figure blink occasionally like real people adds to the “realism”, and having the lids partially closed at varying degrees can help portray a lot of different looks.