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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » What Frustrates you the most about Ventriloquism? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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axtell
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Steve Axtell
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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?


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cardone
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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...
Wanlu
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The Verbatim Pirates in my country Smile

plus lip control and writing materials Smile
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Wanlu
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Another frustrating part is the types of audiences we have here in Manila Smile

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... Smile

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

Thanks

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Kyle^Ravin
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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.
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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.

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MagicalArtist
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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.
Ony Carcamo
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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...


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.
Ony Carcamo
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Wanlu
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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. Smile
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Wanlu
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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 Smile
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tacrowl
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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.


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.


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.


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
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MagicalArtist
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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.
Lou Hilario
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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.
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Wanlu
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I agree with Lou Smile

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 Smile
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Steve Petra
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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.


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.
Ony Carcamo
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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.


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.
Ony Carcamo
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tacrowl
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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.


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.
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Vegasvent
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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.


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

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.
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chris mcbrien
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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'".
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