I'd like to cover some tips on puppet manipulation.
"Manipulation" is making the puppet, figure, dummy(same thing) look alive.
This is harder than itseems. Especially for new ventriloquists. It takes a fair amount of practice to be able to "think" for at least 2 characters at same time - you and your puppet. It is very easy to forget to keep the figure "alive" when you are saying your lines.
The biggest mistake vents make is that while they are speaking, the dummy sits unmoving. It then comes to life when he says his lines and then is still again when the vent speaks. You do NOT want this to be you. You need to keep your puppet "alive" at all times! You want to be able to work the figure almost without thinking about it.
If you drive, you probably had a hard time remembering how to watch the road, steer, work the gas pedal and the brake, use the turn signals, etc...all at the same time, when you were first learning. However, after a short while you were able to do all of this, plus talk on your cell phone (not recommended), eat a sandwich and drive without even thinking about it.
Again, probably not a great idea, but you subconsciously are now able to perform all of these driving tasks as a result of practice.
That's the same for ventriloquism. You need to practice puppet manipulation until it becomes second nature to you.
Here are a few specific tips to help you with yourpuppet manipulation:
1.) Keep your figure moving at all times, especially when you are saying your lines. Now don't go overboard and have your puppet whipping his head around or making really big movements. But, have him look gently at you and the audience as you are talking. Do NOT have the figure sit still like a dead piece of wood. He needs to have some degree of life at all times.
2.) Use a video camera and record yourself practicing. Watch the video and you will probably be shocked at how often your puppet is "lifeless." Use the video camera to help you see how you can improve the manipulation of your puppet.
3.) To make your figure laugh, open his mouth and then"bob" the head up and down while you use your vent voice to make him laugh.
4.) Watch other ventriloquists on video, TV, etc...and turn the sound down on your TV as you watch. Pay attention to just the manipulation of the puppet(s) without sound. Is the vent able to make the puppet look alive, even with no sound?
5.) Practice. Practice. Practice!
More on this on my next blog post.