Something is off.
The ventriloquist doesn’t move their lips.
His or her puppet is moving.
But something, something is just not right.
It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t look quite right. And as a result, the illusion of life just is not there.
And ventriloquism is creating the illusion of life.
Every day more ventriloquist videos show up on YouTube.
Some are from kids who saw Darci and picked up their toy puppet or stuffed animal.
Others are from adults who want to give it a try. And still, others are from people who have been “doing” ventriloquism for what seems like forever.
And that something still exists that prevents my mind from looking at it as entertainment rather than a presentation of skill.
It is something the pros (or at least many of them) have mastered.
It is something so many self-taught experts miss.
It is the thing that allows you to suspend belief and accept the character as a living, breathing creature with a mind and will of its own.
Can you guess what it is?
If you said being able to hold conversations with yourself, the title of this post, you are wrong.
Because holding a conversation with yourself would mean every schizophrenic homeless person walking down the street talking to themself is a ventriloquist.
(Or at least a professional one who can’t afford to pay the bills …)
Most ventriloquists are on stage trying to remember the script. Trying to figure out delivery of a joke. Remembering to change their voice for the puppet. Or making sure to manipulate it realistically and concentrating on that.
You’ve got a bunch of stuff happening. And now, I want you to add something else?
You bet I do. And that thing is more practice and rehearsal. Not on new material, but on what you are already doing.
But you already know it …
But you don’t, or by now you would have figured out the missing ingredient that brings the illusion of life together.
What is this secret?
The missing ingredient is: imagination.
So many are busy trying to remember not to move their lips, or reciting their scripts that they are working on the basics and have no grasp on the illusion.
You need to reach the point where you can use your imagination and accept the character as real for its time on stage.
If you think of it as a puppet, or less than a living being with its own set of ideas and values, a living thinking entity, your audience won’t be able to either.
So if you are concentrating on how many times to move the mouth, or how to tilt the head or what your character is looking at – the illusion is gone. These need to happen, but you can’t think about them.
If you struggle remembering what to say in what order and how to deliver the joke, the illusion is not there.
And I promise you – when you are able to accept that character as a real, live being – your audiences will too. The illusion is not only complete, but:
- It will become easier to write,
- easier to perform and
- easier to get the accolades that come as a result.
But if you struggle, and even if you aren’t sure if you are struggling, if something feels off – it is. Be your harshest critic and then work, practice and rehearse to silence yourself.
Make it real.