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Assistance for Returning Vent

July 24 2010 at 8:38 PM
from IP address

Hi Folks,

I'd appreciate any and all feedback. A little background: I began practicing vent in 1978, when I was 10 (I'm 43 now). I was really into it for a number of years, did a lot of community shows, and took second place in the junior competition at the '83 Vent Haven Convention. Although my interest always remained, I stopped when I started college. I earned my degree in acting at NYU, and then went onto grad school to study education. I currently live in south Florida where I am a middle school language arts and drama teacher, as well as a university professor. Recently, I've really had a desire to go back into vent. I'm really excited about it, and I'm looking to have a new puppet built. That said:

- I should say that I will initially use vent in my school and around the community, but as I get better, I'll be open to other venues.

- I'd really appreciate any advice as far good resources (i.e., DVDs, CDs, books) to help get my rusty technique back. Being a trained actor, I feel I have a good sense of character and all that. I'm mostly concerned with lip control and things to do with the vent voice. I recently read that Jeff Dunham recommends Jimmy Nelson's two albums. Via a Net search, I noticed that Lee Cornell sells them on CD, so I just ordered those. Any other suggestions?

- In addition, being very motivated by this blog (especially Terry Fator's recent interview) and others on the Net, I want to be the best vent I can be. I want to develop a good daily practice routine. Any advice there? What exactly should a daily practice entail (e.g., alphabet, sentences, manipulation, etc)? How long should a good daily practice be? Has someone written out a daily practice routine? I remember seeing the Great Lester's practice board at Vent Haven.

- Lastly, as I have been practicing lip control, I've noticed that my mouth begins to fill up with saliva. I never experienced that as a younger vent, so it has surprised me. Anyone else have that issue? Any advice to deal with it?

I apologize for being so verbose, but I'd cetainly appreciate your feedback. As I said, I'm just ecited to be back in vent!


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Tony Borders


July 24 2010, 10:08 PM 

One quick note: Sugar before a show often causes one to salivate, so avoid that. Another food no-no is caffeine which tends to dry one out.

Tony Borders

hard letters

July 24 2010, 10:10 PM 

This is from an earlier post.

You will find that different people have different replacement sounds. Here are my favorite's with reasons why.

B: Replace with a soft d (duh type) sound. Instead of having the tip of your tongue hit the roof of your mouth as it does for a d, have the tip of your tongue hit the back of the front teeth right at the top of the teeth.

F: This one is so easy you will think it isn't right. But it is! Just replace F with a hard th sound as in throw. I like thish. Thour score years ago. Don't be afraid to make it a hard th sound. Otherwise it sounds like a v.

V: Replace with a soft th sound as in the word the. I like thalentines. Thicky is cute. thictory in Jesus. Soft is the key here.

M: Use an ng sound as in ring, sing, etc. It is a common Chinese phonetic. Just think ung. What you are doing is closing off the passage of air through your mouth, just as you would if your lips were closed. Try mmmmmm the regular way. Then ngggggg. Do them one after the other, after the other, after the other.
mmmmmm, ngggggg, mmmmmm, ngggggg. You should hear the same sound, one with the lips closed and one with it open.

P: Replace with a tuh or kuh sound as in t or k. I like t. The BEST way is to actually use both at the same time! Uh-oh. This is really advanced. Feel how your tongue hits for k. Now feel how it hits for t. Now try to combine those two spots either at the same time or as a very quick roll. So you have three choices for P. T, K, or a combo.

W: Replace the w sound (not always the letter, but the sound) with a long o sound. (short o also works). Sandwich is now sand-o-ich. Water is 0-ater.

sources & resources

July 25 2010, 11:06 AM 

Highly recommend the DVD by Paul Winchell - "How to Become a Ventriloquist" Close-up views of mouth tongue and teeth positions by a genuine master. Also contains instruction on distant voice.


Take advantage of ventriloquist learning resourses Ax has put here on his website. Excellent instruction... for free!



July 26 2010, 9:03 PM 

Thanks for your feedback, Tony and Steve!

Tony Borders

New book out

July 29 2010, 9:23 PM 

My local library had a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ventriloquism". It was written by Taylor Mason and takes you from beginning all the way to skit writing, performing, etc. It is chock full of information. Easy reading, but best for teens and up. I'd say it is more for people who are already ventriloquists than for those that want to be. (Only picture is on the cover! What's up with that?)

B. Paul

Now That's Why I Wanted Taylor's Book!

July 30 2010, 9:20 AM 

I knew I've wanted Taylor's book, but I never could figure out why because I thought it would be for beginners. Thank you for giving me my reason Tony!

S Florida Vent

July 30 2010, 3:21 PM 

Hi My Name is N Jay and I also live in S Florida would like to chat with you send me an e mail either to my FB acct under my name N Jay Holtz or e mail me at and let me know its regarding this post..


Mason's book & N Jay

July 31 2010, 6:18 PM 

Thanks Tony. I actually have Mason's book, and you're right - it's packed full of great info.

N Jay,
Thanks for your info. I do want to connect with other vents in my area!

B. Paul

Paul Winchell DVD

August 8 2010, 6:41 PM 

I checked out a copy of Paul Winchell's DVD from the library in my hometown. Man! Talk about a good DVD. It's very detailed and Paul does a GREAT job of explaining things. This DVD has really helped me become a better vent than I originally was. I highly recommend it!

Tony Borders

Jimmy Nelson

January 21 2012, 8:47 AM 

Jimmy Nelson has a website (may not be new news to some of you, but it was to me). It is And you can order CD remakes (signed) of his ventriloquism teaching albums from Ventriloquism 101.

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