I had an audition a while back where I had to switch emotions several times in a matter of minutes and because it was comedic it had to be a bit extreme with no noticeable transitions, yet feel grounded and real. I didn’t think anything of it. That’s easy. However, I found out that’s not true for all actors. I started to ponder why I felt this is such a simple task. Then it hit me…I’ve had loads of practice.
I have been portraying multiple characters onstage at the same time through ventriloquism for most of my life. One of the skills I take for granted is that most of the time the puppet is in one emotion and I am in another simultaneously. For example: Stunkles may feel sad while at the same time I am comforting OR Billy is playful while I am angry OR Darlene is flirty while I am apologetic. I have naturally found a way to do this without even realizing I was developing a skill.
So even though I have had acting classes and life experience and so forth, I truly believe one of the major factors in my ability to do honest comedic emotional switches so cleanly is all of the practice I’ve had through performing ventriloquism.
Another skill that I think ventriloquism has helped with…auditions. I find it’s easier to play opposite imaginary people I’ve created in my mind while reading the scene in the casting office because that’s basically what ventriloquism is, talking to an imaginary person I’ve created. The major difference: There’s a “reader” at auditions that I don’t get to control by putting my hand…well you get the idea.