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.
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.
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
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.