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Teaching and Ventriloquism Educate – Interview With Nancey Ambrose, a MA Ventriloquist and Teacher
1. What is one thing every ventriloquist should do?
The most important thing for a ventriloquist to do is to PRACTICE every day! The best way to practice is in front of a mirror. Work on manipulation, lip control, memorize your script, and most of all, get comfortable with your 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 to the songs without moving my lips.
2. What is something every ventriloquist should avoid?
Every ventriloquist is different. People who want to become ventriloquists should avoid copying what they see.
I recommend: (1) Find out what is right for you. Find information and talk to people who ask you specific questions. What are you comfortable with? What kind of figure do you want to use: a hard figure or a soft puppet? There are advantages to both!
(2) Once you’ve made up your mind, get going! Never let anyone discourage you! Start practicing. You can even practice with your hand! Think about your character. It’s a great decision! Write a biography for your puppet. Ask him questions and get to know him!
3. Is this ventriloquist stuff here to stay?
Absolutely! Ventriloquism has been around for a long time and will be here for a long time. I go to the convention in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, and every year over 400 people attend, an incredible number of people interested in ventriloquism to attend a convention in the middle of summer. Many young people also attend these conventions.
Sales of Jeff Dunham’s video last year exceeded expectations. More people have watched a ventriloquist in their home than ever before. Dunham appeared on Comedy Central in her own special. No TV channel is going to give a ventriloquist a special unless they think it will be watched over and over again.
Dunham’s second DVD will be released soon, and Comedy Central will air her second special in September 2007. Terry Fator, the winner of the TV show “America’s Got Talent,” is a ventriloquist who is pretty impressive because there were thousands of different types. . of 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 need to find what is right for you. Remember not to copy anyone. Practice constantly and master your craft.
Have your own characters and your program ready! 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 did ventriloquism do 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 outside hospitals and clinics to work directly with these children. Some of the children don’t want to talk, but often they will talk to a puppet that I bring. Parents love it too, as they know how much children love puppetry.
Some puppets and I were able to be with the children during painful treatments that comfort them. I also carry other dolls that the children use. Often siblings join in the fun as they also have many fears. The puppets occasionally spent the night in the hospital. For example, I remember a 13-year-old girl who had undergone an extremely difficult surgery. She was angry and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I brought a six foot dodo bird. She spoke to the bird and asked if it could stay with her for the night. I happily accepted his request. Her mother said that her daughter spoke through the bird puppet and that their conversation was happy. In the morning the girl was ready to be herself again.
I also have bald ventriloquist figures and wigs to cover their bald spots if needed. Many of the children love to see that the puppets can be 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 as a kid! When I was getting my Masters in Early Childhood Education and Child Life (working with hospitalized children), I ran a full program for a preschool, teaching them about doctors and hospitals. That’s when I used my first plastic ventriloquist figure that had a broken arm and a cast I put 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 because it was the time of year for the kids to go back to school; that concept had to be explained to the class. I made a program with a couple of puppets and performed with a friend that the class, teachers and parents loved. Now I do an abbreviated program for smaller groups with a figure of a girl 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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