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Teaching and Ventriloquism Educate – Interview With Nancey Ambrose, a MA Ventriloquist and Teacher
1. What is one thing every ventriloquist must do?
The most important thing for a ventriloquist to do is to PRACTICE every day! I practice best in front of a mirror. Work on manipulation, lip control, memorizing the script, and most importantly, get comfortable with the puppet! Practice while sitting in front of the TV, a great way to learn to ad lib. To control my lips, I practice in the car without moving my lips! Sometimes I sing along with the songs without moving my lips.
2. What must every ventriloquist avoid?
Every ventriloquist is different. Individuals who want to become ventriloquists must avoid copying those they see.
I recommend: (1) Find out what is right for you. Search for information and talk to people who ask specific questions. What are you comfortable with? What type of character do you want to use – a hard character or a soft puppet? Both have their advantages!
(2) Once you decide, go for it! Never let anyone discourage you! Start exercising. You can even practice with your hand! Think about your character. It’s a big decision! Write a bio for your puppet. Ask and get to know it!
3. Is this ventriloquist thing here to stay?
Absolutely! Ventriloquism has been around for a long time and will be around for a long time. I go to a convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky and every year over 400 people attend, an amazing number of people interested in ventriloquism for a convention in the middle of summer! Many young people also attend these conventions.
Jeff Dunham’s video sales beat expectations last year. More people watched the ventriloquist in their house than ever before. Dunham appeared on Comedy Central in his own special. No television station will give a special to a ventriloquist unless they believe it will be watched repeatedly.
Dunham’s second DVD is coming out soon, and Comedy Central will air his second special in September 2007. Terry Fator, winner of the TV show “America’s Got Talent,” is a ventriloquist, which is pretty impressive because there have been thousands of different types. Acts. Many families have enjoyed great ventriloquism in their homes!
4. Can someone successfully work as a ventriloquist if they are in a crowded niche?
YES! You have to find what is right for you. Remember not to copy anyone else. Practice consistently and master your craft.
Have your own characters and your show ready to go! Easier said than done, but it can be done. Many professional ventriloquists work full-time at their craft. They worked long hours to achieve success.
5. What has Ventriloquism done for you?
Ventriloquism has allowed me to take what I do professionally and combine ventriloquism with it. I work with children with cancer. I am able to take my puppets to hospitals and clinics to work directly with these children. Some children don’t want to talk, but many times they will talk to the puppet I bring. Parents love it too because they know how much kids love puppet play.
Some of the puppets and I were able to stay with the children during the painful treatments, which calms them down. I also carry other puppets that the children use. Siblings often join in the fun, as they also have many fears. The puppets sometimes spent the night in the hospital. For example, I remember a 13-year-old girl who underwent an extremely difficult operation. She was upset and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I brought a six-foot dodo bird. She talked to the bird and asked if he could stay with her for the night. I happily complied with her request. Her mother said her daughter spoke through the bird puppet and her speech was happy. In the morning, the girl was ready to be herself again.
I also have bald ventriloquist characters and wigs to cover their bald heads if needed. Many children love to see that puppets can be like them!
6. What trends do you currently see in ventriloquism?
I see ventriloquism being used in so many different areas! I see it in comedy as well as churches, birthday shows, magic shows, singing and hospitals.
7. When did you first become interested in ventriloquism?
I loved puppets when I was little! When I was getting my master’s degree in early childhood education and child life (working with hospitalized children), I did a full preschool program and taught them about doctors and hospitals. That’s when I used my first plastic figure of a ventriloquist who had a broken arm and put a cast on the figure. We talked about what it was like to go to the hospital. The kids loved it as did the other teachers and parents. It was great.
My first real job was putting together a program for the school as it was the time of year when the children went back to school; this concept needed to be explained to the class. I created a program with several puppets and performed with a friend who was loved by the class, teachers and parents. Now I do a short program for smaller groups where a girl character talks about cancer and how it affects life.
It’s great to be able to do what I do!
© September 4, 2007
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