LEARN TO BE A
contrived puppets help the modern ventriloquist to produce
the weird effects that fascinate theater audiences and
private gatherings. Far more realistic than the
"assistants" of his predecessors these dummies now smile,
weep, and wink at his will, to heighten the illusion of
their borrowed power of speech. Thus clever stagecraft
has brought up to date the ancient art of ventriloquism-an
art as mystifying to laymen, today as of ole. In
reality, there is nothing mysterious about ventriloquism,
however. IT may be mastered by anyone with sufficient
patience to follow a few rules. Contrary to popular
belief, a ventriloquist does not actually "throw" his voice.
Every sound that he creates comes directly from his own
His success in convincing his audience that it comes from
somewhere else depends on his skill in concealing lip
movements and in producing false voices. A tremendous
aid to this illusion is the fact that human ears judge
imperfectly the direction of a remote source of sound, as
anyone may observe at a sound movie. Here voices that
seem to come from the lips of actors moving about the screen
actually issue from fixed loudspeakers concealed behind it.
Even more faulty is the ear's ability to judge the distance
of a source of a sound.
ventriloquist takes full advantage of these weaknesses, and
loses no opportunity to add to the illusion by the power of
suggestion. In the "near" technique that he adopts
when working with a dummy close at
hand, he disguises his voice by speaking in falsetto.
Those in the audience, seeing only the puppet's lips move,
assume that the voice is it's own. To escape making
telltale lip movements, a ventriloquist avoids certain
dangerous words such as those containing "p" and "b: sounds.
Try it before a mirror, and you will see why a
ventriloquist's dummy ask for a quart of ale not a pale of
deer. Where such sounds most be used, they are slurred
over. More difficult is the "distraction technique by
which the performer seems to make a voice come from a remote
spot, in a conversation. with an imaginary person behind the
scenes. Here the ventriloquist uses strained or
magnified tones suggestive of distance. These sounds
are produced deep in the throat and have no resonance to
normal speech. To practice them, try taking a deep
breath, hold it, and attempting to make a sound in the
throat. A gurgle will result, now if you exhale slowly
while saying "ah" lessening or deepening sound is produced.
This " drone," as it is known to ventriloquist is the level
of all "distant" sound and a experienced performer can
acquire sufficient control of their throat muscles, to make
it startlingly affective the further back in the throat it
is produced, the more remote its apparent source seems.
glances, or head movements replace the dummy of the "near"
technique in suggesting the exact spot from which the sound
is supposed to come. This trick is responsible for the
popular impression that the ventriloquist can " throw: his
voice, or make it issue from a place at some distance from