Friday, July 20, 2007

Lip control

I received an email from Rainy in Montana (I asked her if it was.... She said that was old)

She said she can't help moving her lips when she comes to those difficult words and letter pronunciations. She asked me how i take care of that problem.

The one thing a ventriloquist should always do is interact with his dummy by nodding or disagreeing or roll his eyes anything that will distract the audience from his mouth. Unfortunately, when people go to see a ventriloquist, its like going to see a magician. Everyone tries to see how the trick is done so instead of enjoying the show, they tend to watch the ventriloquists mouth instead of the act. If you're always looking at the audience, they will watch your mouth. If you're looking at the dummy, they will watch him. DISTRACTION!!!! That is the key to successful ventriloquism.

I was taught by Paul Winchell when I was young to clench my teeth together and smile while the dummy is talking. He said always look at the dummy when he's talking look to the side at him while he is talking. There is less movement seen that way. Always make sure your figure is animated. Shifting around looking side to side turning his head etc. All this distraction takes away from the audience watching your lips. After i do demonstrations and kid classes The Adults usually tell me. I wanted to see if you moved your lips but I got caught up in the act.

There's the secret. If the dialogue and manipulation is good, No ones going to see the times you move them. And as always PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A MIRROR. The more you do that, the better you will get. Hope that helps Rainy!

1 comment:

Magic Mondays Team said...

Absolutely right Steve.

The lip control is ALWAYS the first thing any vent worries about. It is usually the first fear to go bye bye as well. You start to get caught up in all these other wonderful concerns such as character and comedy and manipulation (all of the things Steve pointed ou actually) that after about a year or so you just stop worrying about your lips. You slowly start to realise that during all of your practice sessions the lips have taken care of themselves through relaxation. I's like any performance technique. people tense up when they are forst learning something new. When you learn to relax the tension goes. I'm also a professional magician and it's exactly the same there. I did a show recently at which there were a few friends of mine. I know I have good lip control but I asked my friends if they could do me afavour and JUST watch my lips and let me knwo what they thought. Afret the show i asked them how I went. One of my friends said "it was excellent" the other two admitted to getting so caught up with the act that they forgot. I was using a Steve Barry figure at the time and I just did my usual shctick of extreme manipulation, sustained character and comedy. These are th ethree most importanat ingredients. The lip thing is number four for me. important but definetely number four.

It may be easy for me to say thi snow I can do it but I still struggle over some phrases in the heatr of the moment. I have this theory that I call 'The Flutter' It's when you have to blow air out of the lips on a word to help accunciate it without moving the lips. If you get stuck on a word try it. Just blow the word out fast and strong from the back of the throat through the lips. Hard to explain but it works. In my opinion if peole see you 'Flutter' it looks like your working hard.

Dean Atkinson