Ventriloquist Imitations




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Ventriloquism in a Month
All Born Ventriloquists
Initial Stages
Breathing Exercises
Automaton or Man?
Speaking Still Lips
Two Kinds of Ventriloquism
Ventriloquism Voices
Ventriloquist Figures
Ventriloquist Figure Manipulation
Near Voices
Ventriloquist Distant Voices
Ventriloquist Imitations
Complete Entertainment

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By Cecil H. Bullivant


Although imitations can hardly be classed under the heading of pure ventriloquism, yet they may be pressed into the service of the entertainer to promote variety in his performance. They serve, too, another very useful purpose, inasmuch as they provide a relief from what must inevitably prove a strain on the vocal chords. As has already been said, ventriloquism necessitates the placing of the vocal chords in a somewhat unnatural position, and the result is that the exponent, particularly in the early stages of the work, is apt speedily to become tired. 

As a break between an exhibition of " near " ventriloquism--that is, with the automata--and an exposition of distant effects, one or two vocal or instrumental imitations will prove welcome both to the entertainer and the entertained. 

A witty person once remarked that the secret of success lies not so much in what you can do, as in what you can induce other people to think you can do. In other words, a little knowledge in the hands of a ready-witted and competent ventriloquist can be turned to great advantage and become a valuable asset in his undertakings. For successful imitations, self-confidence is perhaps of even greater importance than the possession of real ventriloquist powers. Self-confidence is a trump card that the ventriloquist should always hold in his hand, because it will take all the tricks. Success is impossible without it, and easy with it!  

Perhaps there are few branches of entertaining in which self-assurance is so necessary as in ventriloquist mimicry. The border-line between a successful imitation and a ludicrous failure is oft-times so narrow, that a sensitive soul would soon be disheartened. 

The only difference between the efforts of the ordinary and the ventriloquial mimic is that the latter, when giving expression to sounds vocally produced, should place the chords in the same position as for " bee-drone " and the " distant " voice. 

A very good study is that of a hen as she cackles immediately before laying an egg, and again after having done so. You will notice that the first sounds are mostly of a guttural nature, and they should come from well back in the throat, starting moderately high and descend ing four or five notes. Of course the lips will have to be kept slightly opened, and for the final jubilant crow considerably extended. To avoid the necessary facial movement, it is as well when uttering the " crow " to turn sideways to the audience. Again, while the first note of the cackling should be loud, the successive notes grow quieter


An imitation of a dog fight will form a spirited item in your program. By your actions you may suggest, for instance, a small cur yapping vigorously until a larger and more ferocious animal endeavors to quite him. 

To produce the higher notes of the dog-bark, the falsetto or " thick " voice must be used, while deeper guttural tones serve for the larger dog. 

It is a little difficult to intersperse the two sets of sounds without expressing facial contortion, but you may obtain for yourself a certain amount of license by pretending that the dog fight is taking place beneath a covered table, behind which you may stoop in your supposed endeavors to stop the tumult. 

It is but natural to turn from dogs to cats. Whereas you have just given an imitation, perhaps, of a fierce duel, your next effort should endeavor to portray a feline courtship. This should be made as funny as possible. The lady's " marr-rr-ows " and "mia-a-a-ows " are easily copied after you have been kept awake a night or two listening to the genuine article, whilst the deeper tones of Mr. Tom are included in the repertory of every well-educated schoolboy. 

The mouth should be kept fairly wide open and a kind of sideways motion given to it, whilst the cry should be drawled until the lips form for the final " ow." The spittings and growlings necessitate the bringing together of the lips and teeth, a freedom which your audience on this occasion must permit you. The doleful moans with which our feline friends endeavor to solace one another can be produced by making the mouth very hollow, the lips into the form of a large 0, slowly contracted to a very small one. 

For the die-away, distant effect, moaning more or less in the throat must be resorted to. The finale can consist of a number of fierce spittings, and growlings, suddenly interrupted by an unmistakably human voice (your own) "shooing" the night visitants away. 

A variation can be made by giving an imitation of pouring out a glass of wine. To produce the illusion of drawing the cork from the bottle, turn slightly round, thrust the forefinger into the mouth against the cheek, close the lips around the finger, slowly bring the end of the finger round inside the cheek, and force it smartly out through the lips. The result will be a loud pop. By moving the tongue from the back of the mouth quickly backwards and forwards, making it strike against the inside of the gums, the " glug, glug " of the wine being poured out will be plainly heard.


Under the cover of a screen, the roaring of a lion is simple of accomplishment. Use a glass oil-lamp chimney, and give vent to a series of deep-throated roars from this. The effect will both be natural and startling. With the same instrument the deep lowing of a cow can be perfectly imitated, the lips producing the familiar "moo," the sound being gradually drawled through the glass chimney. 

To copy a saw at work is quite easy. Get a ruler, or some similar article, to represent the saw, and draw it backwards and forwards as though cutting a piece of wood. The sound is best made by clenching the teeth, placing the tongue a little forward between the upper and lower teeth, quickly inhaling and exhaling the air. The resultant noise will be an exact imitation of the saw cutting its way through the wood. 

Quite an effective item is the ascent of a rocket. By blowing hard through pursed lips, and striking the mouth rapidly with sharp little blows with closed fingers, the curious sound of an ascending rocket may be reproduced with perfect fidelity. This slowly fades away, there is a moment's pause, and then the final pop as the stars burst. Naturally such an imitation should be performed in the shelter of the screen. As a last example, an imitation of the itinerant knife-grinder may be attempted. Keep the lips and the teeth closed to produce the rasping up and down of the steel upon the grindstone, the while working an imaginary treadle with the right foot.







Additional Information:

Peer- Level Topic Links:
Ventriloquism in a Month ] All Born Ventriloquists ] Initial Stages ] Breathing Exercises ] Automaton or Man? ] Speaking Still Lips ] Two Kinds of Ventriloquism ] Ventriloquism Voices ] Ventriloquist Figures ] Ventriloquist Figure Manipulation ] Near Voices ] Ventriloquist Distant Voices ] [ Ventriloquist Imitations ] Complete Entertainment ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.