CARICATURE VOICES

The study of Near ventriloquism and the ac¬quirement of the Punch voice leads to the con-clusion that the attainment of this branch of the art is not merely the employment of natural speech with still lips, but is in fact the use of a more accentuated speech than that ordinarily employed in the portrayal of eccentric character on the stage.

Like the actor who exaggerates seemingly unimportant actions to add effectiveness to his performance, or the artist who, in his cartoons, distorts the features and general appearance of his subjects for comic purposes, it is legitimate for the ventriloquist to lend as much contrast be¬tween the voices used as possible by caricaturing what might actually be the voices of persons similar to those represented by his figures. The puppets themselves are exaggerated in face, color¬ing and expression while suggestive of the class of people represented, so why not their voices?
In using a number of figures, however, it is in- evitable that some of the voices should resemble the performer's natural voice to a more or less re¬mote degree, the more remote of course the bet¬ter, but even then they may be made distinct by accent and appropriate dialect. And it is sur¬prising how much individuality one may give the different voices by care and attention.

We will now consider the methods used for the production of some of the other voices employed in Near ventriloquism. In direct contrast to the Punch voice is that which is sometimes called the " Grunt" voice. To produce this, the tongue should be allowed to lie fiat with its tip almost touching the back of the front lower teeth where they enter the flesh. In this position, and with the whole of the vocal cords relaxed, the words are simply grunted at the back of the mouth, with the lips still and only slightly apart, as when using the Punch voice. In other words, make less effort to speak than you would natu¬rally, using only the back part of the tongue, so that the sound is made in the lower part of the throat.
This voice is a caricature of that used by old men who no longer have command over tongue and lips and speak with open mouths.    In figure working it is used to supply speech for the Old Man without whom no ventriloquial family is complete, in contrast to the sharp, reedy voice of the Old Woman who is usually his companion, and the less shrill tones of the Irish or the Colored figure. It may also be used for the same pur¬pose when the couple are supposed to be behind a screen.

Given the Old Man, Old Woman, Irish and Colored figures, it naturally follows that there should be a little girl to make the family com¬plete, and for this we revert to the Punch voice, only it should be made less reedy and more like a child's. The young of all animals, including the human animal, uses a high key to speak or make the sound peculiar to itself.

 


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