The work of a ventriloquist differs from puppetry and marionettes in that the ventriloquist creates the illusion that the puppet can actually talk, while remaining in full view of the audience throughout the presentation. Ventriloquists use near life-size figures with which they create a life-like illusion.

Many people believe that ventriloquists have a special throat, giving them the extraordinary ability to create another voice. This is not so. Ventriloquism is a projection of the voice. As with singers, ventriloquists need to practice regularly and to breathe correctly in order to succeed.

There are six letters of the alphabet known as labials, which require movement of the speaker’s lips: P, F, M, B, V and W. Ventriloquists replace these letters with another sound almost like them; for example, they replace an “f” by the “th” sound. In this way, they avoid using their lips.

Ventriloquists usually work indoors, on a stage or in a hall. Sometimes they work outdoors, on open-air stages.

Personal Requirements

  • clear and pleasant voice
  • well-spoken and have an excellent memory
  • like people and enjoy entertaining them
  • confidence and the ability to perform
  • an artistic background is an advantage

How to Enter

No formal training is available. This is a skill and talent that needs to be practiced. Contact with an experienced ventriloquist is beneficial for learning and developing techniques and methods.


  • councils for performing arts
  • privately owned theatres
  • television and film industry
  • entertainment agencies
  • self-employment, as a freelancer

Further Information

National Arts Council 
66 Margaret Mcingana Street (Cnr Gwigwi Mrwebi)
South Africa
Tel: 087 700 0683

National Television and Video Association of South Africa (NTVA)
P O Box 16140
Vlaeberg, 8018
Tel: (021) 424-7575

68/1114 Wargrave Road, 
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 554 9972

Getting Started

  • take private acting and voice training lessons
  • try to obtain some experience by acting in school and community plays
  • attend professional productions with ventriloquists performing
  • arrange to speak to ventriloquists about this type of caree

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