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Teaching and Ventriloquism Educate – Interview With Nancey Ambrose, a MA Ventriloquist and Teacher
1. What is the one thing every ventriloquist should do?
The most important thing a ventriloquist should do is TRAIN every day! The best way for me to practice is in front of a mirror. Work on manipulation, lip control, memorization of your script, and above all familiarize yourself with your puppet! Practice sitting in front of the television, a great way to learn to improvise. For lip control, I practice in the car without moving my lips! I sometimes sing along with the songs without moving my lips.
2. What is one thing every ventriloquist should avoid?
Every ventriloquist is different. Individuals who want to become ventriloquists must avoid copying those they see.
I recommend: (1) Find out what works for you. Find information and talk to people who ask specific questions. What are you comfortable with? What type of figure do you want to use? A hard figurine or a flexible puppet? There are benefits to both!
(2) Once you’ve decided, go for it! Never let anyone discourage you! Start practicing. You can even train with your hand! Think about your character. It’s a big decision! Write a biography for your puppet. Ask him questions and get to know him!
3. Is this ventriloquist thing here to stay?
Absolutely! Ventriloquism has been around for a long time and will be for a long time to come. I go to the convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, and there are over 400 people who attend every year, an incredible number of people interested in ventriloquism to attend a convention in the middle of summer! Many young people also attend these congresses.
Sales of Jeff Dunham’s video last year exceeded expectations. More people watched a ventriloquist in their homes than ever before. Dunham appeared on Comedy Central in his own special. No TV channel will give a ventriloquist a special unless they think it will be watched over and over.
Dunham’s second DVD will be released soon and Comedy Central will air its second special in September 2007. Terry Fator, the winner of the TV show “America’s Got Talent”, is a pretty impressive ventriloquist as there were thousands of different types. of acts. Many families were enjoying 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 works for you. Remember not to copy someone else. Practice regularly and master your craft.
Prepare your own characters and your show! It’s easier said than done, but it can be done. Many professional ventriloquists work full time in their profession. They worked long hours to succeed.
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 can take my puppets to hospitals and outpatient clinics to work directly with these children. Some children don’t want to talk, but often they will talk to a puppet that I bring. Parents love it too because they know how much kids love puppet play.
Some puppets and I have been able to stay with the children during painful treatments which comfort them. I also carry other puppets for the kids to use. Often siblings join in the fun because they too have a lot of fears. The puppets sometimes spent the night in the hospital. For example, I remember a 13-year-old girl who had an extremely difficult operation. She was angry and didn’t speak to anyone. I brought a six foot dodo bird. She spoke to the bird and asked if he could stay with her all night. Fortunately, I granted his request. Her mother said her daughter spoke through the bird puppet and her conversation was happy. In the morning, the girl was ready to become herself again.
I also have bald ventriloquist figurines and wigs to cover their bald heads if needed. Many children love to see puppets like them!
6. What trends do you currently see in ventriloquism?
I see ventriloquism being used in many different areas! I see it in comedy as well as in churches, birthday shows, magic shows, singing, and hospitals.
7. When did you first become interested in ventriloquism?
I loved puppets when I was a kid! When I was getting my Masters in Early Childhood Education and Child Life (working with hospitalized children), I did a full program for a kindergarten, teaching them about doctors and hospitals. That’s when I used my first plastic ventriloquist figurine which had a broken arm and a cast that I put on the figurine. 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 to put together a program for the school because it was the time of year for the children to go back to school; this concept needed to be explained to the class. I developed a program with a few puppets and played with a buddy that the class, teachers and parents loved. I now run an abbreviated program for smaller groups with a female figure talking 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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