“That Story Lady”

Angela Scott, Author – Storyteller – Ventriloquist

Teaching and Ventriloquism Educate – Interview With Nancy Ambrose, a MA Ventriloquist and Teacher

September 8, 2007

1. What is one thing every Ventriloquist must do?
The most important thing a ventriloquist must do is PRACTICE every day! The best way for me to practice is in front of a mirror. Work on manipulation, lip control, memorizing your script, and especially just get comfortable with your puppet! Practice while sitting in front of the TV, a great way to learn how to ad lib. For lip control, I practice in the car without moving my lips! I sometimes sing along with the songs without moving my lips.

2. What is one thing every Ventriloquist must avoid?
Each ventriloquist is different. Individuals who want to become ventriloquists must avoid copying the ones they see.

I recommend: (1) Find out what is right for you. Search for information and talk to people asking specific questions. What are YOU comfortable with? What type of figure do you want to use – a hard figure or a soft puppet? There are advantages to both!

(2) Once you decide, get going! Never let anyone discourage you! Start practicing. You can even practice with your hand! Think about your character. It’s a big decision! Write a bio for your puppet. Ask it questions and get to know it!

3. Is this Ventriloquist stuff something that is here to stay?
Absolutely! Ventriloquism has been around for a long time and will be here for a long time. I go to the ConVENTion in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, and there are over 400 people attending every year, an amazing number of people interested in ventriloquism to attend a convention in the middle of summer! Many young people attend these conventions as well.

Sales of Jeff Dunham’s video last year exceeded expectations. More people watched a ventriloquist in their home than possibly ever before. Dunham appeared on Comedy Central in his own special. No TV station is going to give a ventriloquist a special show unless they believe it will be watched repeatedly.

Dunham’s second DVD will be released soon and Comedy Central will be airing his second special in September 2007. Terry Fator, the winner of the television show, “America’s Got Talent,” is a ventriloquist which is quite impressive because there were thousands of different types of acts. Many families enjoyed great ventriloquism in their homes!

4. Can someone work successfully as a Ventriloquist if they are in a crowded niche?
YES! You need to find what’s right for you. Remember not to copy anyone else. Practice consistently and master your craft.

Have your own characters and your show ready to go! It is easier said than done but it can be done. Many professional ventriloquists work full time in their craft. They worked long hours to achieve success.

5. What has Ventriloquism done for you?
Ventriloquism has allowed me to take what I do professionally and combine ventriloquism with it. I work with children with cancer. I am able to take my puppets into hospitals and outpatient clinics to work directly with these children. Some of the children do not want to talk but many times they will talk to a puppet I bring in. The parents love it as well since they know how much the children love the puppet play.

Certain puppets and I have been able to stay with the children during painful treatments which comforts them. I also carry other puppets the kids get to use. Oftentimes the siblings join the fun as they also have many fears. The puppets occasionally have spent the night in the hospital. For example, I remember a 13-year old girl who had endured an extremely difficult surgery. She was angry and would not talk with anyone. I brought in a six foot dodo bird. She talked to the bird and asked if it could stay with her over night. I happily granted her request. Her mom said her daughter talked through the bird puppet and her talk was happy. In the morning the girl was ready to be herself again.

I also have bald ventriloquist figures and wigs to cover their bald heads if needed. Many of the kids love seeing puppets can be just like them!

6. What trends to you currently see in Ventriloquism?
I see ventriloquism being used in many different areas! I see it in comedy as well as in churches, birthday shows, magic shows, singing, and hospitals.

7. When did you first become interested in Ventriloquism?
I loved puppets when I was a child! When I was earning my Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Life (working with hospitalized children), I performed a complete program for a nursery school, teaching them about doctors and hospitals. This is when I used my first plastic ventriloquist figure who had a broken arm and a cast I put on the figure. We talked about what it was like going to the hospital. The kids loved it as did the other teachers and parents. It was great.

My first real job was putting together a program for school because it was the time of year for kids to return to school; that concept needed to be explained to the class. I developed a program with a couple of puppets and performed with a buddy which the class, teachers, and parents loved. I now perform an abbreviated program for smaller groups with one girl figure talking about cancer and how it affects life.

It’s great being able to do what I do!

Nancy’s website


All writings here are copyrighted by Angela Scott. You may not use them without written permission but you may link to the posts or give out a link to the posts.

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