By Cecil H. Bullivant
Ventriloquist with knee figure.
Ventriloquism in a Month:
A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to the Art
There is one form of entertainment which perhaps makes a stronger
appeal to the average boy and young man than almost any other. It
would not, in a sense, be wrong to say that ventriloquism is, and has
been for a great number of years, the most envied of all accomplishments incidental to the art of the amateur and semi-professional
True, ventriloquism for many centuries was regarded as an adjunct
to wizardry, and the exponents of black magic, but the great success
achieved by the writer of It Valentine Vox," the central character, in
which was endowed with the most wonderful and extraordinary powers
of voice throwing, brought the subject of ventriloquism at once under
general notice, and ever since it has steadily won its way into universal favor, with the result that it
has remained a popular form of amusement
for many years.
Despite this, however, the misconceptions existing regarding this
branch of vocal phonetics are extraordinarily numerous and widespread,
due, perhaps, in a measure to the fact that the amount of valuable
written instruction on ventriloquism is so small, while the number of
people who have swallowed the fascinating and improbable adventures
dealt with in the book just referred to are correspondingly large.
To a very considerable extent, then, it is the object of this chapter
primarily to dispose of the many existing fallacies concerning ventriloquism, because by so doing alone is it possible to commence a study of
the subject with the hope of attaining proficiency and success.
How To Throw Your Voice?
The first idea which the would-be ventriloquist has to dismiss from
his mind is that, by following out a stated course of exercises, he will be
able to "throw" his voice or, in other words, to upset the equanimity
of peaceable old gentlemen snoring quietly in the furthest corner of the
railway carriage--or ruffle the temper of some aged lady by producing facetious remarks concerning her appearance-from a long
distance away; not that those who approach this subject have any particular
desire to be a disturbing influence to other people, but it is safe to say
that more take up ventriloquism with the idea of practical joking than
for any other purpose.
In point of truth, the real art of ventriloquism does not lend itself
very easily to the production of such illusions; even when the performer
is capable of producing ventriloquist sound, he will discover that the "distant" effect
[to throw your voice] depends almost entirely upon his situation at the
moment of utterance, and whether or not those around him are prepared to give the credence he desires to his efforts.
In other words, a
ventriloquist cannot throw his voice where-so-ever he will as if it were
sound bottled up only to come out and be heard when it is some
distance away; the best he can hope for is to make that sound so
deceptive to the ears of his audience that, to them, it seems to come
from some one other than the actual speaker.
It cannot, however, be denied that the stock-in-trade of the clever
ventriloquist is so unusual and superior to that of his fellow-worker in
any other branch of entertainment, that he is capable of producing the
most humorous and arresting situations. Moreover, it is a power which
once gained can never be lost, and although a ventriloquist may, from
various causes, give up the pursuit of his favorite subject for a period
of many years, yet he can pick it up again at the point where he left it
and find himself still possessed of the same wonderful and extraordinary