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Topic: What Frustrates you the most about Ventriloquism?
Message: Posted by: axtell (Apr 22, 2007 08:32PM)
What frustrates you the most about Ventriloquism?

What's the hardest part of performing?

What happens over and over in your shows and is about to drive you crazy?

If there was one thing you could change about the world to make it better for you to perform, what would it be?


Ax
Message: Posted by: cardone (Apr 22, 2007 09:06PM)
For me its the venues I perform in ..... a ventriloquist act requires good audience focus .. like watching theatre .... I perform in a lot of catering halls that even with a good sounds systemand a mic the flashy magic goes over the best .....
A vent act is like a stand up comedy act ... a stand up comedy act will not go over for all groups......
Most people are used to watching Tv or sports ... not theatre ... most people do not go to comedy clubs .. so writing material that works for a lot of different groups is the hardest thing and requires the most work for me...
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 22, 2007 10:35PM)
The Verbatim Pirates in my country :)

plus lip control and writing materials :)
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 22, 2007 11:14PM)
Another frustrating part is the types of audiences we have here in Manila :)

I perform for both the upper class and middle class families and the type of comedy each class appreciates is different... so when writing something for a particular character/puppet/figure, there must be a variety of presenting an act.

What works for one will not necesarilly work for all types of audiences...Ive had routines that killed in an upper class audience but bombed in a mid class audience and vice versa... :)

The biggest frustration might be knowing what material to use when faced by a multi class audience :)

Thanks

Wanlu
Message: Posted by: Kyle^Ravin (Apr 26, 2007 03:31AM)
The most frustrating thing for me, though I hardly perform with my Ax chimp, is puppet manipulation. I seem to be able to do it will with peepers but once the puppet is on, things seem different. I don't know but I think the Ax chimp can get a lil uncomfortable. maybe that's why I've never really mastered it. Ax, has anyone told you that the chimps can cause cramps? ok back to the topic, the hardest thing is manipulation, making it seem alive.
Message: Posted by: harris (Apr 26, 2007 08:09AM)
Weight of my size 7 vent figure. He is wonderful but harder to transport so he doesn't get out much.

Memory as I get older in memorizing new routines.
Songs are much easier to add to personalize the gig/venue.

Harris and the nearly normal puppets
http://magician.org/member/doctoroflaughology/about
Message: Posted by: MagicalArtist (Mar 29, 2008 12:21AM)
Finally a thread that lets me vent here (no pun intended).

A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic.

Maybe that's an unfair comparison. Children LOVE Magic! Most things are not going to compare well with magic for children.

But when I perform ventriloquism for children, it's hard to get them to laugh. I've tried a number of different routines. I thought maybe the jokes were over the kids heads. So I tried a very simple routine with simple "slapstick" kind of jokes. Still, not a lot of laughs.

What I finally concluded is that vent doesn't work well for kids for the same reason that magic DOES work well for kids.

Let me explain.

Most magicians will freely tell you that kids don't respond well to verbal humor. They like visual humor. Slapstick kind of stuff. Well, guess what? Ventriloquism is mainly verbal humor! Yes, it is possible to do a little slapstick stuff with your puppet in the way of manipulations, but let's face it, most vent work is verbal.

The other reason is that kids like to be part of the act! This is another thing that magicians will freely tell you. Well, again, it's hard to make kids a part of the act with ventriloquism.

Some may suggest that you have the puppet “ad lib” with the children. Not a good idea! Children don't know what are the proper bounds of behavior, so they will start saying more and more outrageous things to the puppet to see how you will respond. Add libbing with the children does not work well.

The one thing I have found that the kids do enjoy is when the puppet plays games with the children. Verbal games like "Simon says" are great. This uses a puppet but it also allows the children to be a part of the act. So whenever I do vent work, I always include interactive games as part of the routine, and I get into the games pretty quickly.

The one exception to this is when you do vent one-on-one for a child. The child loves it when the puppet is talking directly to them, because they're the center of attention. Not so with groups. With groups you really need to be interactive and get the kids involved.
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Mar 29, 2008 05:13AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 01:21, MagicalArtist wrote:

A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic...

But when I perform ventriloquism for children, it's hard to get them to laugh. I've tried a number of different routines. I thought maybe the jokes were over the kids heads. So I tried a very simple routine with simple "slapstick" kind of jokes. Still, not a lot of laughs...

What I finally concluded is that vent doesn't work well for kids for the same reason that magic DOES work well for kids...
[/quote]

I guess you need to watch and learn from kidshow vent Mark Wade so you'll know the great potential of ventriloquism to entertain kids--and make them laugh!

That's all I can suggest you do for now... and I'm pretty sure you'll see vent in a different perspective after seeing Mark Wade.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Mar 29, 2008 08:04AM)
I just came from a gig...quite difficult to do a vent act with a lousy sound man who doesn't know how to solve the problem of a feedback or a humming sound...

A good sound man will lessen the treble if he hears a feedback and lessen the bass when he hears a humming sound...or simply lower down the master volume.

...plus there was a child crying during the act and the mom was enjoying the act that she was practically letting her child cry on the floor... and they were in front of me. :(
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Mar 29, 2008 08:10AM)
I have that Mark Wade Kidshow DVD...the man knows his craft well.

Its much easier to make kids laugh and enjoy a vent act...just choose your kidshow material :)
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Mar 29, 2008 09:52AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 01:21, MagicalArtist wrote:
A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic.
[/quote]

That is a blanket statement - not true. Very early in my "vent" career I did a school show (one of the few I did with vent) and the reaction was great.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=_l1JYRieRFo
(Not overly proud of my technical skills there - but listen to the audience!)

[quote]
What I finally concluded is that vent doesn't work well for kids for the same reason that magic DOES work well for kids.

Let me explain.

Most magicians will freely tell you that kids don't respond well to verbal humor. They like visual humor.
[/quote]

Have to disagree with that. I was a professional comedy magician for over 25 years before switching to vent. One of my main markets was school assembly programs. I seldom did slapstick/visual humor, my comedy came from the verbal interaction with the audience. Kids are bombarded with comedy every day on TV. Some of it is slapstick/visual, but they also laugh at some very clever jokes.

Every performer is different. If you like doing slapstick/visual material, then part of the problem may be your comfort level switching over to a different style of humor. The audience may not accept it as well because it throws off your program's pacing.

I think the key to working any show, magic or ventriloquism - is projecting a personality that draws people in, and keeping a pace that doesn't allow the audience's attention to wander. There is a definite "beat" to a successful show.

[quote]
But when I perform ventriloquism for children, it's hard to get them to laugh.
[/quote]

How long have you been doing vent in front of audiences? When I first started doing vent, my nerves often made that the weakest part of my act. There were times I ditched the puppets quickly to get back into my comfort zone with magic. I also video taped each show and watched to see what I was doing wrong...

Mark Wade is a master at working with kids - his DVDs and book should help. Too many vents have success with kids, so if you are having trouble, you need to study the pros, re-examine your routines, practice and video tape to see how to fine tune your act to that market. You can do it!

Tom
http://www.ComedyVentriloquist.com
Message: Posted by: MagicalArtist (Mar 29, 2008 12:03PM)
I think its different when you do an "all vent" act as opposed to mixing vent and magic. When you do vent as an interlude in a magic show, the kids are in "magic mode" and so it takes some mental gear shifting to go into vent mode. When you do a "vent only" show, that's what the kids expect, and so they are in the proper mindset to be entertained by vent.
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Mar 29, 2008 07:05PM)
Frustrations: I lost my falsetto voice 20 years ago. I wish I could get it back. I also wish I had a good singing voice.

The hardest part of performing vent for me is when you only have a small crowd to entertain. I am used to crowds from more than 150 people.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Mar 29, 2008 10:23PM)
I agree with Lou :)

Two weeks ago, I did a show for Mr Gabby Lopez owner of TFC/ ABS-CBN...for his son's 7th birthday. There were 3 kids in the party, just the birthday kid, his brother and a cousin...it went well but I lost several gallons of sweat :(
Message: Posted by: Steve Petra (Mar 29, 2008 10:47PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 13:03, MagicalArtist wrote:
When you do a "vent only" show, that's what the kids expect, and so they are in the proper mindset to be entertained by vent.
[/quote]

MagicalArtist,

What you stated in this part of your post seems to me to be the issue. In fact I've heard many others voice this frustration as well. Frankly the rest of your analysis I find faulty and likely due to not having seen how experienced, competent vents that are family/childrens entertainers work their craft.
Back to agreeing with you:
I think you revealed what could be a "theatrical" challenge with presenting a vent routine in the midst of a magic act. My experience is that an audience needs to be invested in a character. When there is conflict with you and the character, they take sides. This truly gets them involved at a level that breaks down barriers and starts the laughter snowballing.

Suggestion: When writing your act, don't isolate the character to it's "spot" in your show. Find a reason to bring him/her out and interact with relational material instead of just jokes (setup- punchline). (* Here I want to make a point to heartily agree with your previous obsevation of the limits of verbal humor with young kids.) The vent character should intercept your agenda (in control MAgician) with it's own agenda(funny chaos). During other parts of the show, you could have comments continue to emerge from the puppet offstage and when you get real good at making it work with your audience, maybe even consider a finale with the vent character.
This is largely how my entire act works, every show, wherever I go, with consistant results.
Please don't take this as criticism, just sharing the HUGE amount of fun and SUCCESS to be had when an "act" turns into "good theater". You've initiated a excellent discussion with your observation and concerns.

Be innovative and be excellent.
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Mar 30, 2008 06:25AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 23:47, Steve Petra wrote:

My experience is that an audience needs to be invested in a character. When there is conflict with you and the character, they take sides. This truly gets them involved at a level that breaks down barriers and starts the laughter snowballing.
[/quote]

This is, for me, the true secret if we want to have a great vent act on stage:

Brilliant character development.

What Steve just posted is clearly seen on every successful vent performance--Bergen and Charlie, Nelson and O'Day, Winch and Jerry, Jeff and Walter, Willie and Lester, Otto and George... and the list goes on.

Wonderful post, Steve.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Mar 30, 2008 08:21AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 13:03, MagicalArtist wrote:
When you do vent as an interlude in a magic show, the kids are in "magic mode" and so it takes some mental gear shifting to go into vent mode.
[/quote]

Exactly my point about pacing. Steve hit the mark with his post. Watch his videos on youtube. Seeing his interaction with his characters and the audience can teach you a lot. He is an excellent entertainer.
Message: Posted by: Vegasvent (Mar 30, 2008 05:05PM)
Otto and George?
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Mar 30, 2008 05:55PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 01:21, MagicalArtist wrote:
Finally a thread that lets me vent here (no pun intended).

A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic.


Some may suggest that you have the puppet “ad lib” with the children. Not a good idea! Children don't know what are the proper bounds of behavior, so they will start saying more and more outrageous things to the puppet to see how you will respond. Add libbing with the children does not work well.

The one exception to this is when you do vent one-on-one for a child. The child loves it when the puppet is talking directly to them, because they're the center of attention. Not so with groups. With groups you really need to be interactive and get the kids involved.
[/quote]

Hey it's OK to disagree - which I do in this case :)

Kids love vent if it is presented right. Kids DO respond to verbal humour if it is at the right level. For young ones (say 4-6) they love things like having the puppet try to do a nursery rhyme or song and messing it up. It almost become Magici in Trouble syndrome.

As for ad-libbing - a lot of our show is adlibbing. I get a lot of good responses when adlibbing. Jack Benny once said the best adlibs are well rehearsed. I have never had a kid respond with something out of bounds.

My puppets intereact with kids one on one as well as a group. It depends on how you do your intereaction.

I agree that "just" verbal humour might not work if you don't get the kids involved much the same way kids would be bored if you just stood there doing tricks in front of them without a chance to "join in" as a group or one-on-one.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Mar 30, 2008 05:59PM)
TA and Steve just said a LOT of very important things...and as for myself I'm finding that my puppets are taking a bigger and bigger place in my shows...schools, libraries, corporate family venues...it seems to fit my character. They still like the comedy magic/gags and stuff, but it's the puppets they LOVE. I've been doing puppets and started trying to do vent (and it's still a work in progress) since my dad built me a puppet stage when I was 8 so I could do plays for his church (he's a Reverend). I've been hooked ever since. Puppets only go over as well as your material, character development and your ability to listen to your audience and adjust reaction/timing to fit that crowd.
Timothy, I appreciate your vent, and I have faith in you that if you work more on your puppets you'll find that if you really love to do vent/puppetry, the "magic" will start to happen for you! "Just keep swimmin'".
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 6, 2008 06:04PM)
When this thread started I had nothing to add. I couldn't think of anything that frustrates me in ventriloquism. But lately I've been working on a new act featuring my Axtell Orangutan (vinyl version). My frustration is due to a lack of positive control of the mouth. There's too much room around my fingers and thumb. I like a really tight grip on the upper and lower jaw. I've stuffed soft sponge in and it helps but it's not perfect. Any suggestions?
Message: Posted by: Steve Petra (Apr 6, 2008 10:21PM)
Olivertwist,

The vinyl orangutan is a great looking puppet but the mouth as you describe can be difficult to control.

Suggestion: Axtell sells something called "headliners". It supposed to provide a snug space for you fingers above and below the mouth. You might want to try one. Not sure of how it adheres under stress though.
http://www.axtell.com/catresor.html
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 7, 2008 01:26AM)
Hi Olivertwist :)

I love the face of the Axell Orangutan...so adorable :)

...if you really want a version that's easy to manipulate, I'm guessing that the latex version is much nicer and a lot easier to manipulate. :)
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Apr 7, 2008 08:30AM)
Just curious. Why do you guys prefer the Axtell Orangutan than the Chimp? Is it more realistic? Is it funnier or what?
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 7, 2008 11:42AM)
Hi Lou,

Personally, I find the Axtell orangutan's face more adorable than the chimp...funnier too :)
Message: Posted by: axtell (Apr 7, 2008 03:13PM)
One of the reasons that we discontinued the vinyl apes is the vinyl was so stiff. I could never get the China factories to make the just right for me. Our pro latex apes are amazing and much more flexible, but more expensive of course.

Ax
Message: Posted by: Steve Petra (Apr 7, 2008 04:20PM)
Lou,

Why the orangutan? Look at that face; adorable, mischevious, intelligent. All without uttering a word.
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Apr 7, 2008 04:32PM)
Thanks all for the tips. I'm glad to know it's not just me. I agree on the orangutan. It looks great. Everybody loves it. I have the liners and they help some. I may have to move up to the latex.
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Apr 7, 2008 06:36PM)
Hmmm, when I get my Hands Free Chimp, I could possibly switch the skin to the Orangutan later. I think they are the same size. I used to have the latex Chimp but it has passed away (melted down).
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 7, 2008 08:20PM)
[quote]
On 2008-04-07 16:13, axtell wrote:
One of the reasons that we discontinued the vinyl apes is the vinyl was so stiff. I could never get the China factories to make the just right for me. Our pro latex apes are amazing and much more flexible, but more expensive of course.

Ax
[/quote]

Steve,

The one Im using now which the Kernens gave me is very soft...I actually thought it's latex.

It's so soft that it became possible for me to use it with my left hand.

When I finally get a hands free puppet...I'm most probably getting an orangutan :) so Lou, stick with the chimp :) :) :)
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (Apr 8, 2008 12:40AM)
I use orangutan too, because the origin of Orangutan is in Indonesia.
So he is my brother. :rotf:

For the technical aspect, Orangutan mouth is bigger than Chimp, so it is easier for people with big hand to operate it. And yes, my vinyl Orangutan is a little stiff, but it give a good spring effect too. :)

Back to the initial topic.

Making funny script is difficult for me, and we don't have a lot of script source like what you have in English language.

I agree that the hardest part when performing is when I face small number of audience with a big age span. Recently I do a gig for about 7 kids, from age 4 to 13. Only 2 kids laugh for every jokes. :(

If I can change the world, I would like my age is around 20 now. So I'm still young, when I enter entertainment business. :dance:
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Apr 8, 2008 04:15AM)
I use my vinyl Orangutan strictly at casual walk around venues.I do not do any vent with him,rather I use the unique visual movements of an Orangutan as a focal point.Folks just seem to love the slow movements and curious nature of a young Orangutan.

I have closely studied the movements of real,young Orangutans,and try to duplicate that.

Also,I have painted[acrylic the face hands and feet to resemble the the skin tone and other features of a real,young Orangutan.The bright pink skin of the new puppet did not suit the way I wished to portray him.
Most folks think he is real until they get right up next to him.

Rich
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Apr 8, 2008 04:59AM)
I am trying to upload a photo of my Orangutan puppet,but it's not easy when one is technically challenged.

http://s284.photobucket.com/albums/ll36/MahaRichie/?action=view¤t=Picture001.jpg
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Apr 8, 2008 07:38PM)
Back to the original topic:I sometimes have difficulty sticking with my original script.
I find myself ad-libbing sometimes...especially if there has been a distraction.

Any advice as to how to stay on track with the original script would be appreciated.

Best.
Rich
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Apr 8, 2008 08:22PM)
Rich:

Not sure why this should be a frustration, unless you are working under a strict time limit and run out of time before the end of your act. Ad libbing, as long as it's funny, is a great addition to an act which the audience really appreciates. They know they're getting a unique show and revel in the cleverness of the performer dealing with an impromptu situation. Often times I find ad libs get bigger laughs than the scripted material. (I like to believe this indicates the strength of my ad libs, not the weakness of my script!)

Of course, much of ad libbing is not really ad libbed. We keep a supply of "ad libs" ready for whatever may come up in the show.

Finally, ad libs can become a regular part of the show. I audio record or videotape every show so I can recall funny ad libs that come up.

So my advice? Don't stay on track!

Best,

Bob
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Apr 8, 2008 08:46PM)
Ad-libbing makes your show fresh and personal for your audience. You're like playing jazz music--where at some points you leave the original melody, improvise a few bars, then go back to the original tune.

It is not uncommon for Jeff Dunham to use Walter at the start of his act and the act continues for 40 or so minutes, where much of his materials are mainly ad-libs, based on what he sees around.
Message: Posted by: Budihaha (Apr 9, 2008 01:00AM)
[quote]
On 2008-04-08 05:15, PaleoMagi wrote:
Also,I have painted[acrylic the face hands and feet to resemble the the skin tone and other features of a real,young Orangutan.The bright pink skin of the new puppet did not suit the way I wished to portray him.
Most folks think he is real until they get right up next to him.

Rich
[/quote]

Wow,

Your orangutan is very unique!
What kind of paint that you use?
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Apr 9, 2008 08:02AM)
Bob and Ony:Thank-you for the responses.Even though I have been doing vent for years at walk around venues,I have recently added my Axtell turtle,and vent mask to my family shows.
Knowing that adlibbing is OK takes a lot of pressure off and opens up a whole new vista for me.Thank-you.

Budihaha:Thanks.The paint I use is liquid acrylic paint. Such as:

http://tinyurl.com/66u3a9

I just mix some earth tones together[brown,beige,black,white etc.]until I get a color that is similar to the skin tone of a baby Orangutan.It's almost like an uneven smokey color in nature.

In the photo the area around the eyes appears very white.It is actually a more realistic tan color in person.

Acrylic paint is less permanent than oil based paints,and you can work it until you get just the right tone.

Best.
Rich
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Apr 9, 2008 08:02AM)
Since it seems all the big guns are here...does anyone know of a spray or solution that will keep Latex in top shape for uh..like...ever and halt the inevitable deterioration?

Thanks.

If there were any 'beefs' with vent and vent acts it's more from an observer standpoint.

I have seen some pretty shabby looking puppets. Keeping your 'Star' in tip top shape and appearance should be high on your list.

Also in watching some acts, I get really bored with the over reliance on tehnical 'tricks' rather than good funny material. The 'look what I can do!' syndrome of showing off drinking ten glasses of diesel fuel while singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in French accented Swahili leaves me cold. There is a major act I dare not mention that drives me nuts with the 'show off' persona. I think the terrific influence of Jeff Dunham though is going to change a lot of that for the better. He relies on material (and incredible skill) and his vocal tricks are in the mx rather than showcased as a reason for the act.

Other than that viewpoint, I have two pro puppets I had made, that I'm giving away to Grandkids because my hands are too big and they are uncomfortable to squeeze into and one hard dummy that I am selling because I just cant get into the manipulation of the thing to match what I can do with a hand puppet. My hand naturally comes alive because that is what I have done since a kid...turn the hand into a seperate (from me) character...I find pulling a string and working a stick just doesn't work for me (I know I'm lame).

I'll be looking at Axtell's genius to replace the above with one solid character that will make ME laff. The rest will fall into place. :)

Doug
Message: Posted by: RicHeka (Apr 9, 2008 08:26AM)
Doug:I purchased Axtells Old Storyteller about 25 years ago.When the latex head and hands started to deteriorate after about 8 years of casual use,I had Steve Axtell replace the head and hands.He used a much thicker formula than the original,and it is still in top shape after 15 years.
I am more carful than I was with the original[such as not leaving him in a hot car etc.].I also keep him upright on a stand,and covered with a loose blanket.[when I am not using him]

I have heard that Armour All can be used to preserve latex,but I have never used it myself.

Best.
Rich
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Apr 9, 2008 08:48AM)
Thanks Rich...I found Armour All is the LAST thing you want for a dash board so I'd be hesitant on a cherished puppet. Mainly asking for my Daughter who has some rare and valuable Movie Props (latex) and is really worried about their survival.

Your keeping the 'old man' out of a hot car is good advice to be sure!
Message: Posted by: Steve Petra (Apr 9, 2008 11:34PM)
I've been using Armor All on my Axtell puppets for years. Whatever effects it might have on a dashboard, I don't think they apply to latex puppets. I know that Steve Axtell recommends Armor All application every three months. That's how he retains his youthful appearance.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Apr 10, 2008 12:22AM)
I love doing ad-libs....makes me look smart :)

In fact...I do scripted ad-libs :) meaning, its basically a scripted line...but you deliver in a way that it sounds like an ad-lib.

But legit ad-libs are more exciting of course :)
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Apr 10, 2008 08:16AM)
Another thing that frustrates me is that Axtell latex puppet don't last forever. If it did, I'd collect all of them. Just imagine a room full of Axtell puppets on display. That would be coooool!
I know that is possible if you have airconditioning 24 hours a day in that room. But we need to conserve energy to save our earth. I have a friend who owns expensive cars like Ferraris and his large garage is airconditioned 24 hours a day.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Apr 10, 2008 09:00AM)
Thanks Steve...I guess if Axtell recommends it. I know some very high dollar car collectors that certainly do not...but then that's not Latex involved.

D
Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Jul 5, 2008 07:44AM)
Ax,

Thank you for speaking to the stiffness of the vinyl apes.

I have your Chimp, and I've never understood why the mouth didn't work well until now.

I've been thinking about cutting the mouth open and using matching cloth tape or glued material to bind the pieces back together again.

Perhaps that would be a good fix in this particular case.
Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Jul 5, 2008 09:25PM)
[duplicate]
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jul 6, 2008 02:53PM)
Probably my biggest frustration is when I am doing walkaround and kids keep trying to put their fingers in the puppets mouth or punch the puppet etc. Worse is when adults do or even worse is when parents encourage kids to do it.

I have yet to find a way to ask people not to do that wihtout sounding like a grouch or having people say things like "well your not a very happy guy".
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 7, 2008 09:50PM)
Neale,
Hook up a syringe bulb with a tube to the puppet's mouth and when somebody puts their finger in, have it gag and throw up on them. :)
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jul 8, 2008 11:41AM)
The weird part is I have often tried having the puppet ask them not to do it but that seems to egg them on, even the adults.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Jul 8, 2008 12:53PM)
Get a pin for your puppet's shirt that says "Please be fond, don't fondle"
Message: Posted by: Tod Todson (Jul 9, 2008 12:04AM)
Ax,

But of course, a richer way to animate/control the arms :)

DeMar uses a fishing line or something, but I bet you could improve on this idea immensily.

Perhaps something that could be retro-fitted to the back of soft/hard figures with minimal structural mods.

Perhaps a control wire/lever that goes into the inside, held on the out with buttons/rivets.

Consider the thousands of stiffed armed figures world-wide!
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 9, 2008 02:36PM)
With the current popularity of vent - there still aren't that many out there working. I did a resort the other night, when I checked out the next day, on the show board they had a magician/ventriloquist for that night. Two vents in two days, same guests?

What frustrated me was when the agent e-mailed a thanks. He told me I was so well received the guests told the second vent about one of my running gags with an audience member and the guy ended up incorporating the gag AND that guest into his show. That bothers me...
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jul 9, 2008 05:48PM)
Ouch! Yes I would be peeved too!
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jul 9, 2008 06:42PM)
Tom,
That would bother me, too.

That's what also frustrates me... those vents "stealing" acts and materials from other vents in the same area.

This is what I believe is decent: if you see a vent in your area doing a bit you felt you liked ... PLEASE AVOID using (or "stealing"?)that bit in your act! Think of other bits for yourself!

Ony
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jul 9, 2008 09:32PM)
[quote]
On 2008-07-09 19:42, Ony Carcamo wrote:
Tom,
That would bother me, too.

That's what also frustrates me... those vents "stealing" acts and materials from other vents in the same area.

This is what I believe is decent: if you see a vent in your area doing a bit you felt you liked ... PLEASE AVOID using (or "stealing"?)that bit in your act! Think of other bits for yourself!

Ony
[/quote]

I agree :)

That's why I make my own routines and spiels...problem is thieves would always be thieves and they make a living stealing from other people due to their lack of creativity. Their talent is to steal materials and disguise them as their own...

What's even more terrible is when people see them first before they see your act, some would even think you copied that bit from the thief. :(

However, I also noticed that are generally used bits n pieces...I have DVD's of DeMar, Pendleton, Winchell, Boley, Strassman, Wade and Carr and without a doubt there are generally used lines and nobody can have monopoly or exclusivity on those lines... it might be a bit silly to claim ownership of lines generally used in the vent community and expect others not to use them.

My two cents worth.

Wanlu
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 9, 2008 09:47PM)
I realize this vent didn't see my act, that he simply pulled the material in based on his conversation with audience members and management before the show. He was probably just as shocked they booked us back to back. (At least I went first and didn't have to worry about being compared.)

The question is, will the guy now start using this gag in his regular show? He has no idea of the original set up - so I'm hoping he won't.

I admit I use stock lines around original material to fill out my routines. Using a stock line isn't great, but they are stock for a reason - if told properly they will create a great laugh. When I've seen something I wanted to play with and change around to suit my act, I've gotten permission from the source I was inspired by.

Outright stealing of a routine is wrong, and when they are working the same area as Ony mentioned, it simply lowers everyone's value.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jul 9, 2008 10:08PM)
[quote]
On 2008-07-09 22:47, tacrowl wrote:


...I admit I use stock lines around original material to fill out my routines. Using a stock line isn't great, but they are stock for a reason - if told properly they will create a great laugh. When I've seen something I wanted to play with and change around to suit my act, I've gotten permission from the source I was inspired by.

Outright stealing of a routine is wrong, and when they are working the same area as Ony mentioned, it simply lowers everyone's value.
[/quote]

I think asking permission is very decent and very profesional :) and granting permision is even more decent and profesional, not to mention very generous.
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Jul 13, 2008 12:31AM)
[quote]
On 2008-07-09 22:47, tacrowl wrote:
I realize this vent didn't see my act, that he simply pulled the material in based on his conversation with audience members and management before the show. He was probably just as shocked they booked us back to back. (At least I went first and didn't have to worry about being compared.)

The question is, will the guy now start using this gag in his regular show? He has no idea of the original set up - so I'm hoping he won't.

I admit I use stock lines around original material to fill out my routines. Using a stock line isn't great, but they are stock for a reason - if told properly they will create a great laugh. When I've seen something I wanted to play with and change around to suit my act, I've gotten permission from the source I was inspired by.

Outright stealing of a routine is wrong, and when they are working the same area as Ony mentioned, it simply lowers everyone's value.
[/quote]

I guess no one liked my "fondle" pin idea...you're all conservative ninnies, each and every one of 'ya.
With that off my insanely manly-man chest, I think what that guy did ripping you off was about as bad as it gets. I would feel so very LOW if I did something like that. I mean, holy crap, you don't have something that good already in your act?
Well, you don't have to take it as a compliment, but you could call the *** and have a "little chat". I would! Why not? I'm thinking he asked for it!
My two cents.
PS. Being an entertainer doesn't come with the stipulation "must be a door mat"
Message: Posted by: chris mcbrien (Jul 13, 2008 11:44AM)
I hope what I said above was taken as "tongue in cheek".
Anyway, my biggest vent-peave right now is what I just found out about Jay's show in the UK. It's not Jay's fault, it's his promoters, producers and ultimately anyone in charge of pushing his show. If the marketing is poor, the general masses won't show up.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Jul 30, 2009 08:56PM)
[quote]On 2008-07-09 22:47, tacrowl wrote:
I realize this vent didn't see my act, that he simply pulled the material in based on his conversation with audience members and management before the show.[/quote]

If you didn't see his act, it's possible he used the material in a way that you'd find completely okay. Especially since it was for the same crowd, he might have thrown in reference to what you did as kind of a call-back to your act.

If he continues using it in a different venue, then yeah, he's probably scum. =:)

Jay Jennings
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 31, 2009 09:24AM)
Jay,
I had totally forgotten about that incident. It is amazing how much something can bother you at the time - and later you realize it just doesn't matter. You are right though - it probably was just a call back...
Tom
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Jul 31, 2009 03:08PM)
Oh, good-freakin'-grief! I had no idea this thread was more than a year old!

Sheesh, I usually look at that before I reply.

Jay Jennings
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Aug 2, 2009 12:22PM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-30 18:55, Neale Bacon wrote:
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 01:21, MagicalArtist wrote:
Finally a thread that lets me vent here (no pun intended).

A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic.


Some may suggest that you have the puppet “ad lib” with the children. Not a good idea! Children don't know what are the proper bounds of behavior, so they will start saying more and more outrageous things to the puppet to see how you will respond. Add libbing with the children does not work well.

The one exception to this is when you do vent one-on-one for a child. The child loves it when the puppet is talking directly to them, because they're the center of attention. Not so with groups. With groups you really need to be interactive and get the kids involved.
[/quote]

Hey it's OK to disagree - which I do in this case :)

Kids love vent if it is presented right. Kids DO respond to verbal humour if it is at the right level. For young ones (say 4-6) they love things like having the puppet try to do a nursery rhyme or song and messing it up. It almost become Magici in Trouble syndrome.

As for ad-libbing - a lot of our show is adlibbing. I get a lot of good responses when adlibbing. Jack Benny once said the best adlibs are well rehearsed. I have never had a kid respond with something out of bounds.

My puppets intereact with kids one on one as well as a group. It depends on how you do your intereaction.

I agree that "just" verbal humour might not work if you don't get the kids involved much the same way kids would be bored if you just stood there doing tricks in front of them without a chance to "join in" as a group or one-on-one.
[/quote]
MagicalArtist, I agree with Neale. It is all about how you present it to an audience. I am great with kids when it comes to magic. I am not as great with adults. Some magicians are vice versa. They like performing for adults more than kids. I do my average magic act with 95% of the kids audience. The other 5% I have to make some adjustments. I perform in Detroit a lot. A lot of the kids are being grown up with a bad life and wants to challenge the magician by given him a lot heckling. Or since the kids do not get much attention from their parents, they want to be a heckler to get your attention. One way that solves that with me is if I play I grew up with a bad life. The kids will immediately let me in their boat and listen to me. Or I can start off by being a good role model to them by dressing up hip hop and talking a little ebonics. I look at it all the same way with ventriloquism.

I watched Kimmo's magic and ventriloquism DVD, "Talk To The Hand!". He performs great for the kids. He kept their attention the whole time He also used different puppets. I do not know how well he can perform an adult show, but it all depends on how you perform to the age group and type of audience.

On my drawing board soon as I noticed his face talking and asked his name, I say to him, "Are you crazy?" He quickly responds back, "No, you crazy." It always get a good laughter every time. I do have other funny lines, but the script is not a long one yet. I have to put more time working on it just like I did with magic.

And, MagicalArtist, if you think you can never keep the kid's attention, no problem, it just means kids are not your type of audience with ventriloquism.
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Aug 4, 2009 04:19AM)
[quote]
On 2008-03-29 01:21, MagicalArtist wrote:
Finally a thread that lets me vent here (no pun intended).

A lot of vents are going to disagree with me on this, but I find that children don't respond terribly well to ventriloquism, at least not as compared to magic.

Maybe that's an unfair comparison. Children LOVE Magic! Most things are not going to compare well with magic for children.
[/quote]
Yeah, I know that this is a year's old topic but then when you make the above statement it's like me going to "The Little Darling" forum and say "Run Rabbit Run is the worst trick in the world!" :)

In my kids show, they response very well with my puppets. I have had kids who laugh for almost 10 minutes NON-STOP and the parents are very impressed.

In fact, I have been called back to do the shows with the same puppets again because they remember him.

I think that if you cannot do ventriloquism, you may want to stop doing ventriloquism in your shows.

Similarly, in my case, I used to do kids magic shows but I suck so I turned to puppets, where I grew.

I think it's just the natural ability of individuals so just build on that.

[quote]
On 2008-07-06 15:53, Neale Bacon wrote:
Probably my biggest frustration is when I am doing walkaround and kids keep trying to put their fingers in the puppets mouth or punch the puppet etc. Worse is when adults do or even worse is when parents encourage kids to do it.
[/quote]
Here's what I do when I face this situation: JOIN THEM!

Let me explain...

When the invited kid punch the puppet, my puppet said "What did he do?" I said, "He did this!" And I also punch my own puppet. Then, I gave the kid a Hi Five. After that, no one punch the puppets.

I think that the rationale is that the kids expect us to protect our puppet and when I turn around to support them, they don't know how to respond to that.

Of course, at this time, I also explain to them it's not right to do so.

This little tip may help you, but use it wisely. If it doesn't suit your act or turn out to become worse, don't use it.

I used it once a while only.
Message: Posted by: Matt_24 (Aug 4, 2009 12:27PM)
Hmm...I must agree with an earlier poster.

I find nothing entertaining about a vent doing 5 minutes of "Oh, we don't use letters B old pal.", to which the dummy replies, "Oh, you mean I can't take Bobby Bowling while drinking a bottle of beer while sitting on a billboard, etc, etc, etc."

Just my .02.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Aug 4, 2009 01:58PM)
Matt,
I think that depends on how it is presented. Ken Groves does an excellent bit about the letters a ventriloquist can't say. I first saw him do it live back in 1998 and it was awesome.

The link below is a video clip of the routine...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLd9Fsn-9CM
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Aug 4, 2009 03:09PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-04 14:58, tacrowl wrote:
Matt,
I think that depends on how it is presented. Ken Groves does an excellent bit about the letters a ventriloquist can't say. I first saw him do it live back in 1998 and it was awesome.
9CM
[/quote]

Ken is a popular and talented ventriloquist. But I think the routine with the plosives comes across as showing off. Great for vents, no doubt, but I wonder how regular audiences react. (On the other hand, Ken has been doing for years, so his audiences must like it. ) I enjoy watching Arthur Worsley do his "bottle of beer" routine, but after a few minutes, I want to say, "Okay, what else do you do?"

I, for one, avoid doing vocal gymnastics for their own sake. I only do them if they serve the routine and the characters. For instance, I do rapid voice changes when having two characters argue with each other and with me.

Again, I mean no criticism of Ken Groves. He is a model for us all to emulate. I just don't care for that particular bit.

Bob
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Aug 4, 2009 11:19PM)
Bob,
I see your point. If he was doing it for ventriloquists, I'd think of it as showing off too. Ken uses this routine for his lay audiences. The first time I saw him - I wasn't even interested in ventriloquism. I would consider myself a lay person at that point. It played very well. I was laughing and amazed at the same time. So were the people around me.

I like that fact it's not "Bottle of Beer" over and over. I felt it was an entertaining build to the final line. You made Matt's point though - we all like different things. Its all good...
Tom
Message: Posted by: Matt_24 (Aug 6, 2009 06:25PM)
Ken is a superb ventriloquist but I think it takes away from his act. I don't think he needs it. Again, I may be in the minority here but just my .02.

I always liked the fact that Charlie/Mort were presented as being alive. As being real. And I believed (heck, I still believe) that they were real. If Bergen would have (well, could have...LOL) started showing off his lip control...it would have totally taken away from the reality he was creating with his show.

Great discussion.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Aug 6, 2009 08:16PM)
For me it adds mystery to the art...just like tape over mouth...whether its entertaining or not to a lay audience, escapes me at the moment. :)
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Aug 6, 2009 10:30PM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-06 19:25, Matt_24 wrote:
I always liked the fact that Charlie/Mort were presented as being alive. As being real. And I believed (heck, I still believe) that they were real. If Bergen would have (well, could have...LOL) started showing off his lip control...it would have totally taken away from the reality he was creating with his show.
[/quote]

Interesting way of looking at it Matt. I always looked at the comedy created by the figure doing something that the vent said it couldn't. Your view makes something else even funnier to me...

When I put out my DVD, Ken gave it a critical look and came back with the fact he hated when I point out the fact my characters aren't real. If I take your view, he's basically doing the same thing!

I agree, good discussion.
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Aug 7, 2009 02:41AM)
My Biggest Frustration is that Axtell puppets are so popular!
I have probable the first Orang-Utan, I pestered Steve for ages about it, he sent so fast he forgot to put a lable in it. Now I find that another magician in the same town has one and it's even called Oscar!
I know it's not just about the puppet but I would love to have my own character!
Hey Steve, Keep up the good work!
Message: Posted by: Matt_24 (Aug 7, 2009 04:06PM)
Colin,

YOu could always have a custom AXTELL made. My friend Greg Claassen (who builds great McElroy replicas) has used a custom Axtell puppet for probably 20 years in his full-time act...so it has definitely paid for itself many times over and is one/of!
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Aug 11, 2009 12:53AM)
[quote]
On 2009-08-07 17:06, Matt_24 wrote:
Colin,

YOu could always have a custom AXTELL made. My friend Greg Claassen (who builds great McElroy replicas) has used a custom Axtell puppet for probably 20 years in his full-time act...so it has definitely paid for itself many times over and is one/of!
[/quote]
Agree. I have a custom-made Vern puppet where I request a change of the feathers. It cost not more than $100 extra.

Still a unique puppet for me till now.