Special effects by mouth

Not everyone appreciates the thrill of making weird, silly or rude sounds with your mouth. All the better, then, if you know how to throw up a fake a cell phone ring, or present a first-rate chicken cluck. This great book teaches you how to create those and 200 other special sound effects with your mouth only. It comes with a CD, which you really do need to get these sounds correct. Your master guru is Fred Newman, the guy on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion show, who produces an entire symphony of sounds live in front of a mike. Besides being a how-to manual for audio gags, this book is also a very funny, and most importantly, one of the best classes I know of for opening up, training and exploring your voice, even if you don’t want to make amazing noises.

— KK

MouthSounds: How to Whistle, Pop, Boing, and Honk for All Occasions…and Then Some
Fred Newman
2004, 245 pages
Available from

Sample excerpts:

Screech ‘N’ Skid

1. There’s no shortcut to the Screech ‘n’ Skid. It has to be done like you’re a six-year-old. First, load up with air, and hold your breath.
2. Now squeeze hard and let the sound squeak out in your highest falsetto voice. If it’s rough and gravelly, so much the better. (If your face gets red and you pop a button, it’s your own damn fault.) Let the screech rise and fall in pitch and volume.

The Screech ‘n’ Skid is the perfect response when someone makes a profoundly dumb suggestion, asks an inane question, or proffers a really bad idea such as “Let’s wash the cat” or “How ’bout a double for the road?” or “Why don’t we bungee jump out of this hot-air balloon?” The Screech ‘n’ Skid is the ultimate reality check.


Gummy Cheeks

Gummy cheeks is a juicy, abstract sound that slips past “mildly unpleasant” on the gross-factor rating scale and slides straight for “downright filthy” – in the way that stirring tuna and mayo together in a bowl has a disgusting sound, but you’re not quite sure why. Gummy cheeks does not simulate any one sound in particular, but rather suggests a whole host of offensive goings-on.

1. Relax your face completely with your mouth closed loosely.
2. Pinch your cheek lightly with the thumb and crook of the index finger.
3. Pull out and push in the relaxed cheek very rapidly. You will get a repulsive, gooey, slurpy sound – a misdemeanor in Florida.

If you are fortunate enough to have large jowls, your Gummy Cheeks can make grown men squeamish. You can double the indignity by making Gummy cheeks simultaneously on both cheeks for a sort of slushy, surround-sound effect.


Awesome Party Tip #38

“Talk under the din.” If you are at a loud party and find yourself shouting louder and louder just to talk to people, begin speaking “under the noise.” What is happening is that the voices in the room are competing in the same frequency range – so that people raise their volume and their pitch when they feel they can’t be heard. They shout in high voices. All you have to do is not compete. Talk in a quieter, deeper voice, and you will be heard easily. Try it. You will be shocked at how easy it is to talk under the din.