Practice Tips

From Terry Fator

When I was a young vent back in the 70's I would devour every single issue of the wonderful magazine called "Newsy Vents". Quite often it had articles about how to be more successful and make a better living with ventriloquism, and inevitably those articles would say that the key was one simple word.: practice.

What a horrible word! Or is it? I suffer from an affliction that many of the fine vents I have met suffer with as well, Attention Deficit Disorder. I find it absolute agony to sit down and force myself to concentrate and rehearse. I had this same condition as a young child, and it threatened to destroy my dreams of becoming a world-famous ventriloquist and accomplishing my vision of being a headliner in Vegas. I had to find a way to overcome my difficulty.

I found that the best way was to practice when I was forced to do something I really hated or bored me. For example, when my family was on a long car trip I would allow my mind to wander off into the future and imagine myself as a top vent, and try to create a new character that I could use in my act. I would write new routines and jokes, and before I knew it we would be at our destination!

Our family had a janitorial business, and I think I hated that work more than anything else in the world! So as I wandered the buildings vacuuming and emptying trashes i would practice saying sentences and singing without moving my lips. Again, before I knew it the job was over and I had gotten in several hours of rehearsal. My favorite exercise was finding words that were impossible to say ventriloquially and repeating them infinitely until I was able to say them perfectly. (My brother still tells everyone the stories of my saying "Peter Piper Picked A Peck of Pickled Peppers" forty thousand times without moving my lips!)

Anyway, I recommend that you find the time to rehearse when you want a distraction. that will allow you to create characters, write material, perfect your lip movement and much more. But remember that you will still need time in front of the mirror learning to make your new friend move and act realistically. There can be absolutely no substitute for that time! But I'll let you in on a little secret: The hardest part of that exercise is actually starting. I promise that if you can just get over the hurdle of that feeling of dread and the complete lack of wanting to do it, once you are actually standing in front of the mirror working on it, it really becomes a joy!

I know, I know, you think I'm crazy. But mark my words and the next opportunity you have just do it. Pull out your character and set up in front of a mirror and start to talk to him or her. Watch carefully how they look when they talk, and try to make them imitate your head movements and (if applicable) your eye movements. I promise you you'll enjoy it. Just get over the hurdle of your apprehension and the battle is won!

Well, I hope this helps! Just never forget: the more you practice the better you'll get.


  1. Winkle and Wags8/20/2010

    Many thanks to Mr. D. for posting this. Considering the success and affection Mr. Fator has gained, I can't imagine a-n-y-one here thinking him 'crazy' with his advice. Personally, if I have to take a trip of more than 10 minutes and am alone, I practice my vent voice and speech clarity. It helps me define just what the audience hears and before I know it, I'm at my destination. To my way of thinking, 'too much practice' are 3 words that cannot keep company together.

  2. Anonymous8/22/2010

    Attention Deficit Disorder is common with vents? I thought I was the only vent with it..... interesting.