How is your Puppet’s Mouth Timing?

This is a small tip and easy to achieve, but it is also very important.

Recently I was watching some videos of a well known Ventriloquist. There was something in his performance that really bugged me and it took a while to figure it out but when I did it became crystal clear and then really bugged me.

The only way I know how to describe the problem is to put you in mind of some of the early King Kong and Godzilla movies. Some poor Asian actor would be on the screen. You would then hear a series of words, followed by a time delay and then you would see his mouth move.

The Ventriloquist that I was watching was not bad to that extreme, but his timing was off just enough to nag at me that there was some kind of a problem. Just like the old movies, the lack of timing had me concentrating on the timing problem and in so doing I was missing the story line of the movie.

The way to correct this and not do it is all in practicing. Get your character in front of a mirror and watch carefully the movement of the puppets mouth. Make sure that you time the opening and closing of the puppets mouth to coincide with the syllables coming out of your mouth.

Example. Take the word “open”. Say the word to yourself without doing it in Vent. Notice that your mouth opens on the sound “O” and then closes again only to reopen on “Pen”. There are two syllables in the word “Open”. Your puppets mouth should open twice to say the word. The word “close” only has one syllable so your puppets mouth should only open once to say the word.

However, from the time you start to say “close” the puppets mouth should remain in motion so that there is a time delay from the sound “Clo. . . se” Concentrate on the movement of your own mouth as you say “close”. It is a slow open and close. Copy this with the movement of your puppets mouth.

Its pretty easy but it can make a huge difference in the presentation to your audience. It is the little things that separate a performer from a great performer.

Thats all for now folks,

Steve and JET

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