Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lip Control, If you don't have it, PRACTICE

It's interesting how many people on the vent lists stick up for those who move their lips as a ventriloquist. What's more amazing is the fact that they believe that someone calling themselves a ventriloquist can go ahead and pretty much have as much lip movement as possible and not apologize for it. Mind you, the definition of ventriloquist is "belly talker". But we know that already having studied ventriloquism. But ask a layman what the definition of a ventriloquist is. You know what they'll say? Go ahead take a guess. That's right, someone who talks without moving their lips.

Have you ever met someone who saw a bad ventriloquist? What do they usually say about their show? "He was a horrible ventriloquist, his lips moved the whole time!" Can you name a famous ventriloquist who's lips moved? I challenge you to name one. OK. Edgar Bergen. I hear ya, you don't need to shout. Edgar Bergen. Now answer this one for me. How did Bergen get famous? Oh, that's right. ON THE RADIO. Now I'm no rocket scientist but I'll bet Bergen became famous more for the characters he developed than his ventriloquism. As a matter of fact, I'm sure of it. Don't get me wrong, I do think Bergen's manipulation is excellent, but so was Waylon Flowers and he was a puppeteer, not a ventriloquist. I'm not taking anything away from Edgar Bergen, from what I understand, during his vaudeville days his lip control was excellent. But when he moved to radio he felt it was more important for the radio audience to understand Charlie than it was for his small studio audience to not see his lips move. So you see, Bergen wasn't a bad ventriloquist, just a smart business man.

Now let's get back to the topic at hand. Anything worth doing is worth doing right and if you can't do ventriloquism without moving your lips, for the love of Pete, practice. I'm not saying that your lips have to be as stiff as a board when your figure is talking but you should try to be perfect. Work towards perfection. Now I will admit that my lips still quiver every once in a while, more sometimes than others. But I still practice to be better (and mind you, I've been practicing since I was 5). I can't believe that some of you out there say you practice as much as you do and are so bad. Hey, maybe I'm the Simon Cowell of ventriloquism but I say if you been practicing that long and are still that bad, find a new hobby. Your making us look bad.

This is not to say that there are not other important areas like a good routine, good character development or good manipulation. But Abbott and Costello had both good routines and good character development, guess what. They weren't ventriloquists. The guy on the Hudson Brothers who had the Emu had good character development and good manipulation, guess what. He wasn't a ventriloquist (or maybe he called himself one but had such bad lip control that he chose not to talk the Emu). The only thing that makes use different as ventriloquist's is that we talk without moving our lips. I say if you can't talk without moving your lips, don't call yourself a ventriloquist. Hey, you can still be on the WorldVent List, I don't think you have to be a ventriloquist to be on it. But, by calling yourself a ventriloquist who are you fooling besides yourself?


Kenny Croes said...

Well, I used to believe that lip control was the most important aspect of being a good ventriloquist. But now I think it's secondary to great characterization. A technically-mediocre ventriloquist can "wow" an audience better with a well-developed, distinctly original character than a technically proficient ventrioquist whose character (and routine) is only average. There's the technique of ventriloquism and the ART of ventriloqusim. I believe the art is best expressed with great characterization.

To be able to do both is the ultimate goal, but if you work on one more than the other, go with developing a great character.

Anonymous said...

Don't stop posting such themes. I love to read stories like this. By the way add some pics :)