It is very unlikely you will find a college degree that will specifically teach you how to become a ventriloquist. This being said, you can definitely take classes from professional ventriloquists, as well as get some expertise in the art through improv, writing, and theater classes. You might also want to learn the business side of things, since most ventriloquists are freelancers.
If you are set on a college degree, however, do not fret. You can still go to college and get an education that will help you be a great ventriloquist. The best degree for this is probably theater. While a slightly different type, ventriloquists are still actors who need to perform in front of an audience, be aware of themselves on stage, write scripts and create content pleasing to their viewers. So by learning all those things through a degree, you will get a leg up in terms of knowledge.
You can also choose to study practically anything else and hone your skills on your own time. Knowledge will help you create entertaining content, and a degree will ensure you have a day job until you are able to make ventriloquism your full-time career.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A PERFORMANCE/THEATER DEGREE TO BECOME A VENTRILOQUIST?
- The Juilliard School
This highly rated school in New York City offers a well-rounded theater education. It includes aspects of technical training, improv training, as well as a strong focus on writing. Also, it is in NYC, which is, of course, an advantage for aspiring ventriloquists, since you will definitely have room to practice. Tuition is $38,190 per year.
- Tisch School of the Arts
Another well-known school on this list, and also located in New York City, Tisch allows a more multi-disciplinary approach, requiring students to take courses outside of their theater major. They also receive training, theater background education and electives that let them focus on their specific area(s) of interest. Tuition is $24,136 per term for full-time students.
- University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts but also gives its students the option of minoring in the following theatrical disciplines: dramaturgy, theatrical design, theatrical production, writing for the stage and screen. You can either combine them, or take a different major, and enrich it with a minor that will help you in your ventriloquism career. In-state students pay $8,374 in tuition, while out-of-state pay $33,624 per year.
- Northwestern University
Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University’s School of Communication offers major and minor programs in theater. You can also take next level studies by obtaining an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage. Evantston’s proximity to Chicago gives students pursuing ventriloquism as a career a good chance to practice. Undergraduate tuition here is $46,836 per year.
- State University of New York
SUNY Fredonia, located close to Buffalo on Lake Erie, offers its students a variety of degree options, including a BA in General Theater Studies, and BFAs in Acting, Theater Production and Design, Musical Theater, as well as a Theater Minor. New York State residents pay $6,170 per year, and out-of-state students pay $15,820 per year.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
Making ventriloquism a career can be both easy and difficult at the same time. Getting your first gigs might come naturally after a few open-mics if you are good at what you do. However, once you get into the business side of things and try to make money, it gets complicated. You have to build your clientele, your presence in the market, as well as your digital appearance. This will help you land your first paid shows.
Getting paid for shows does not mean, however, that you will be able to leave your day job right away. It takes a while to build up enough gigs and a high enough rate for them in order to make a comfortable living by only performing. To get there, do not forget to always give a professional appearance. While you are a comedian, people are hiring you to do a job, so be on time, have business cards, testimonials, an online presence, etc. Referrals are a great way to go, so if you have lots of satisfied customers, it will help you down the road.