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DaveRobison
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I originally posted this as a reply to another post. But thought it might be a good post in and of itself. It was mainly spawned by a poster in the Tricky Business section, who wants to make $2000 a gig, but was reluctant to take other magicians' advice on how to do it. Their suggestions seemed to go against the grain of his already "planned" plans. I, too, would love nothing but $2000 dollar gigs, but I simply need more growth. Not more plans, but more gigs.

I was reluctant with the original reply here, because I did not want to crush someone's dream or extinguish any enthusiasm. Plus, I'm a comedian; I thrive on "being liked". I truly admire folks' enthusiasm and passion for getting "it" right before performing. Everyone needs to prepare for their first performance. Everyone needs to appear professional when performing, even in the laid back style of stand-up comedian, magician, or ventriloquist. Planning is essential. But I'm reminded of myself many, many years ago and the lesson I learned the hard way; about over-preparing to fail.

Believe me, I know the oft-chanted phrases of "a man without vision will fail" or "In failing to
plan, you are planning to fail". Both of these statements carry truth. But what about over-planning?

I call it the "playing bid-ness-man syndrome". I can't really write an entry without telling a story; this one will be no different.

Back when I had dreams of being a big star, I was 17. I practiced everyday, my technique was flawless,
my jokes were funny and I was ready to get "out there" and start the auditions. There was little doubt that I could succeed, all I had to do was a "little planning" and "I have to look professional".

I went to the bank to open a business checking account, so I could cash all those checks that the
clubs would be showering me with. I found a graphic designer to design a really "cool" logo. I visited the
printers and had stationary and business cards printed. I had brochures and posters made. And because
every popular performer sells T-shirts to adoring fans, I had 50 printed up, just to get started. Now I
was a "bidness man". I had no gigs, no money, but I was in "bidness".

The "bidness" never went anywhere. I told people I was a performing ventriloquist and a stand-up comedian when I met someone new, but all my friends and relatives in town saw me do nothing more. The short-lived celebrity-hood of my childhood days of performing at every breakfast, luncheon and dinner for every organization in town, every library show and every charity function ended...I was waiting for the big time and the big time never came. Once I started waiting for everything to be "just right"...it all went wrong.

Fast forward to "present-day Dave"; I almost made the same mistake when I decided that I had waited long enough to perform again. I got a Facebook page, a MySpace page, a Twitter page, and I started talking to people online, I said I was "getting back into Comedy". I wrote funny stuff as status updates, I commented funny stuff to my "fans" and I started talking about performing. But, I never performed, because I just did not have 55 minutes of "headliner" material written yet. Finally a comedian friend of mine said, "Do you have 3 minutes?" I said, "yeah".

"Good," he said, "You're doing 3 minutes Tuesday night for me" It was a BAD three minutes. (I had 1 good minute.) He said, "You need to write another two minutes. Can you come on stage next week and just introduce everyone and do your NEW 3 minutes?"

I didn't need a set of business cards. I needed to perform; good or bad, and I needed to write more. I didn't need a new dummy, or a new mike stand, I needed to stop playing "bidness man, and get to doing some "show bidness".

After 6 months, I'm still "just getting back into comedy" as my schedule permits--and when I post a YouTube video; there's an audience, not me in my bedroom. And the video includes warts and all. And when I don't have a gig; I say, I don't have any gigs or I'm not ready to have another. I'm not faking gigs, "booked already" or "doing private shows".

So, all you new performers out there; Practice. Plan. Get Perfect.

But don't wait for perfection before you do your first set. Do your first set and then critique it, perfect it, and then do another set.

Again, I am hesitant to post this, but hell, y'all don't where I live, so I'm not skeered.

Dave Robison.

PS Warts and All, but no Ventriloquism. R-Rated and NSFW
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cv-7f6EOfdY
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Servante
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I make my living in show business. I started as a ventriloquist. I'm a playwright. That's all I do...except for one class a semester I teach at the university. I can't get 'em to fire me...but I keep trying.

Still do one vent gig a year for the local hospital for the developmentally disabled, just to keep my hand in, and very occasional a vent or magic show somewhere or other. May get back into a little more vent and magic in the next couple of years, because my roots are there. Particularly vent.
But it is as I tell people who ask me about how to break in: two-thirds of the term "show business" are "business."
And part of the business is the material.
I have an ex-brother-in-law who is trying to get into stand up. He plays open mic clubs. He's not funny. He doesn't know it. Too much attention to the dream, not enough attention to the material...and his ducks aren't in a row. Some of them have drowned.

-Philip
tacrowl
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Dave,
Enjoyed your video - some great lines.

Excellent topic - and I 100% agree - you HAVE to do shows to get good. Lots of them. You also have to honestly review and learn from each one, or you'll end up like Philip's ex-brother-in-law. I've stressed this on other threads - video your shows, watch the tape at least 5 times for different aspects of the performance. Pay attention to where the audience laughs. Realize each audience is different - so test the material on a few crowds before dropping it - but cut the dead stuff. Shoot for 4 - 6 laughs per minute, but know that 8 - 10 will propel you above the competition.

I perform roughly 120 street shows every summer. 4 per night, 7 days a week, usually in two week periods. Vent on the street isn't easy. You've got to grab the audience, engage them and keep them. When you can pull in a crowd that is passing through and keep them for 45 minutes - you are doing something right. When people started returning multiple times, I knew I was connecting in a huge way. The first year I did that, the experience allowed me to hone my material and my act. That experience raised my game in higher paying markets. I continue to accept that gig because it is fun, a challenge and allows me to hone new material by putting it in front of different audiences several times every night.

When you start, the free shows, the open mics, the church shows, the charity events, the street - all of those provide you experience. When you learn from the experience and hone your act THAT is what creates the value for the high paying dates. If you don't have the act - the rest of it doesn't really matter.

Tom
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Howie Diddot
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Dave;

In my normal business I meet people that go into business for all the wrong reasons and inevitably they fail.

They think they prepare the tastiest meals and everybody will pay top dollar for him to cook it.

They think they can design clothing superior than Armani and open a store, without the need to advertise, just word of mouth will make them rich; they place a sign on the door “By appointment only” and wait for a phone call that never comes.

I can go on and on, but this is not the topic.

So Dave when you went into business:

Did you plan on having fun, or focus on making money?

I learned very early in my career, successful people want to deal with successful people; they don’t want to take chances and come off looking bad because they took a chance.

My routine will be successful.

I will look successful.

I will BE successful.
DaveRobison
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I once owned a very successful video production company. My major clients were Kerr-McGee, Marathon Equipment, The State of Mississippi, and Baldor Electric Motors. Our total equipment investment was 17,000. In an industry where typical companies had anywhere from 1/2 to 1 million dollars in equipment.

My clients paid my company based on the final product they placed in their video player and shipped out. And most times we charged more, than our competitors with the fancy equipment. The decision to purchase from the clients came from our talent and our end product, not anything else.

Yes, we acted professional, we delivered on time, and we networked with our clients...we were good business people to deal with, but ultimately our video demo sold the product.

I guess all I'm saying is, if you have the money to purchase everything you suspect you're going to need for an act, then it's fine to purchase those items--but ultimately, they are just accessories to the act. For a ventriloquist, he needs just his dummy and a funny act. For the magician he needs his illusions and a polished patter, and for a comic, he needs a working microphone and a solid funny act. The funny and the polish takes practice and consistent performing. The other stuff, not so important.

I champion all the vents and magicians here, and wish all of you and myself much success. Not my intention to offend, please continue to like me.

Dave
I live on Facebook. Come visit me, I get lonely.
Howie Diddot
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David,

you have not offended me, if the reply was interpreted in that manner I apologize, it was not my intention.

I was not speaking of your video production company; I was commenting on the magic endeavor you were referring to in your post; the planning of the first business; all questions I asked were pertaining to that business.

What was your intentions of starting that business?

Buzz
DaveRobison
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Howie,

Originally, in my youth, the "business" was to be for both fun and money. At that age, I knew I would be a star in a matter of months, I was already a hometown star.

My business plans weren't bad, that was not the reason for failure. It wasn't my performances that were awful, that wasn't the reason for failure. The reason was I got stuck in just planning, just buying stuff, and just talking about performing and my plans. I just quit performing. I quit booking. Because everything had to be perfect. The waiting, and the just talking about it, killed it.

Now, as I'm once again performing again, I almost succumbed to that same procrastination. I bought website domains, got on the social networking sites, thought about logos, dreamed of being a headliner...but I wasn't writing jokes and performing.

Just trying to say, don't wait; perform. The first gig won't be great and you'll have a few more bad gigs even after you have a good one. The perfection comes.

Dave
I live on Facebook. Come visit me, I get lonely.
Howie Diddot
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It’s the reason I’m starting with little children that don’t care if my lips move, they just want to see the figure talk. I am not ready to perform this minute; I believe the time will be in the middle of April when I have my first free performance and I should have at least 30 minutes of material memorized.

I am going to go for it then, perfect routine or not.


The concern here from other members is if I start to soon, I will ruin my reputation
tacrowl
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Buzz,
The only way you can ruin your reputation - is if you create one before you start. Do the shows, let your reputation build - then promote the heck out of it!
Tom
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

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Howie Diddot
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Promote the heck out of it!


That I can do

Thanks Tom

I'm on my way.....
kidshowvent
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Buzz..kids DO know if you move your lips and if older ones are there (after they've seen other vents in shows or on tv) they might give you a hard time about it. Plus the adults with the kids will know. You don't help any of us if you go out before you perfect your technique. Funny or not, the hard truth is that technique is important. We don't need any more half-way ventriloquists in the world. I've heard the old "they don't care if my lips move" saga for many years from beginning vents. Believe me..it matters..greatly.

I'm not coming down on you, but promoting yourself as a vent when you don't have your technique down is not good. Move your mouth..you're a puppeteer. To charge ahead when you're not ready hurts your reputation as well.

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Howie Diddot
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Mark,

I agree with you, reputations are paramount; my first show with all my equipment will be in a church Sunday school class with 3 year old children; they hardly have the ability to complete a sentence.

The parents are friends, the parents know that I am testing out my act, my PA system, the MP3 player and my timing; I will be videoing the show for further evaluation; in this scenario I can practice and correct myself in the middle of the routine and the children would not care, the parents are in service and not even in the room; The teacher in the class would assist me in my practice; it is a practice session, in a church with friends and with parents that will not “give me a hard time about it”.

Everyone in my church knows what I am doing. Everyone is on my side.

Tom posted his comment here because he reads my threads and posts in most of them; I feel Tom, Philip and Dave (blueshawk1) genuinely cares about me as a ventriloquist.

I converse with Tom, Philip and Dave (blueshawk1) in PM about my progress and plans; information in the PM’s are not posted in public, so the complete story is not publicized. I have never really had contact with you in a PM to have a discussion about my growth as a ventriloquist, so you’re not up to date

I don’t feel you’re coming down on me, I realize your entering the thread with not knowing the history of my progress; I am doing well, I have mastered most words with 98% competence. I walk around my home carrying Dan and move him in a natural posture with head rolling and body inflections. I practice in front of a mirror. if I wait until I perfect my technique as you suggest. I will never be able to perform; my first few shows can never be perfect; public practice makes perfect, it is why Broadway productions take the show on the road.

Mark; in a nut shell I am almost ready to take my show on the road.

Buzz
ljlvent
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Allow me to share a different perspective. When I started in ventriloquism it was to bring the wonderful art of puppetry into my classroom so I could become a better and more effective teacher. That was my goal and my desire was to be the best I could be for my students. Then something unexpected happened. I started to get asked if I did shows - for churches, for libraries, for birthday parties etc. That was not my intention, but I figured that it was another way for me to share my love of the puppetry arts, and perhaps encourage children to explore their own creative side. I had no sound system, no business cards, no website, no marketing materials - you get the picture. But I did have one thing going for me - I loved being an encouragement to children and I had some characters developed which helped me to do that. My classroom was my practice ground for all the performance bits I was developing, and my teacher's aid was a good sounding board. I also had opportunities to practice more material in my church. Then when I started to get asked to perform for pay - well that was an extra blessing. I was still teaching but added shows in on the weekends and in the summer and in the evenings. All without marketing materials and a website. Strictly word-of-mouth advertising from the happy clients who had hired me.Over the years I found that I did need a sound system, a backdrop and other stuff, but I grew into that as it became necessary. Eventually I chose to retire from teaching and travel "full-time" - well actually my husband said to me, "Lisa you need one job. There are others who can teach your class, but you are the only one providing what you do with your programs in our area. I think you should quit teaching." So, I did quit teaching. Now I have the happy opportunity to perform and teach at the same time!! And I get to bring smiles to children all over! I get to teach them how to make puppets, how to perform with puppets, and I introduce some of them to ventriloquism as well. I feel this gradual growth was a very good way for me to develop and I did not find that my clients were "put off" when I had no sound system at first, or no web-site and all that. Many of them helped me ease into this business side of things because they believed in me and what I was offering. I had developed good will with them first, I did not over-sell myself before I was ready just because I had all the bells and whistles. In fact now I have even chosen to eliminate a few of the "whistles" so I can offer a show that is more refined yet still professional. My reputation was created for me by my clients not by me for my clients! Having the attitude of a life-long learner is always good, it has made me approachable, confident and still professional. I would never claim to be the best, but I have been told that I provide the best programs they have had by many of my clients. And getting the hugs, smiles and notes form the children as well as the heartwarming stories I hear from teachers after my time in their schools is worth much more than $2000 a gig.
kidshowvent
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Buzz..I guess I was not sure how far along you were as a vent. If you have these things mastered to 98%, please go do the show and enjoy yourself. I'm a bit sensative to vents that are not ready getting into the performing arena. As a full time pro I know how they can muddy up the water. Seems like you've got things covered. let us know how you did (or are doing) and I will be glad to pitch in and help you.

I always preach the gospel of "kidshows" (as I know my friends Tom and Lisa do..), so do us kidshow vents proud!

BTW Lisa..good post!

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Howie Diddot
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Ljlvent

Your story is very encouraging; I admire you for your accomplishments; I on the other hand do not have the built in venue you had.

In your position you were using puppets to teach children, I am learning to be a ventriloquist to basically play with my toys (PA system, backdrop, fancy microphone, etc). As I posted earlier in another thread

I am not planning my Ventriloquist career on making it big and being the best known performer on the west coast.

I want to project a professional image in my routine from day one.

I want music and sound effects to enhance the show

I want tricks to amaze my audience


I am doing this so I can go on stage and play with my stuff, and I’ll have plenty of stuff to play with on stage.

If all I ever do is be in demand to play with my stuff on stage at charity events, hospitals and fundraisers at no charge, I will have achieved my goal, and in my mind I will be a success.


I am glad to see you have a successful program

Buzz
Howie Diddot
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Quote:
On 2011-03-12 21:48, kidshowvent wrote:
Buzz..I guess I was not sure how far along you were as a vent. If you have these things mastered to 98%, please go do the show and enjoy yourself. I'm a bit sensative to vents that are not ready getting into the performing arena. As a full time pro I know how they can muddy up the water. Seems like you've got things covered. let us know how you did (or are doing) and I will be glad to pitch in and help you.

I always preach the gospel of "kidshows" (as I know my friends Tom and Lisa do..), so do us kidshow vents proud!

BTW Lisa..good post!

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com


Mark;

I’m living this stuff

I will probably go out and break a leg, and not in the good theatrical way LOL

Buzz
Dickens & Dave
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Quote:
On 2011-03-12 17:26, Howie Diddot wrote:
It’s the reason I’m starting with little children that don’t care if my lips move,

Mark was right what he said about that, they will be the first to shout out, "I see his lips moving". If there are any adults around, they will of course, be more polite and just whisper it to each other.
Quote:
On 2011-03-12 21:19, ljlvent wrote:
And getting the hugs, smiles and notes form the children as well as the heartwarming stories I hear from teachers after my time in their schools is worth much more than $2000 a gig.

I always loved the notes. It's been a long time since I've done any children's shows, but I do recall I had teachers who had the kids do thank you notes, and my wife was a school volunteer, so they gave them to her to bring home to me. I still have every one of them.
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Howie Diddot
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[quote]On 2011-03-12 22:02, blueshawk1 wrote:
On 2011-03-12 17:26, Howie Diddot wrote:

It’s the reason I’m starting with little children that don’t care if my lips move,


Mark was right what he said about that, they will be the first to shout out, "I see his lips moving". If there are any adults around, they will of course, be more polite and just whisper it to each other.
[quote]
You performed in front of unruly children, every child I perform to will be polite and courteous; speak when spoken to and clean up after themselves.
Dickens & Dave
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Hahaaaa, you just hold on to that dream. Smile
http://dickensndave.bravehost.com/index.html



"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
Howie Diddot
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Lately I have been looking on youtube at magicians, puppeteers and Ventriloquist’s performing for children’s parties in homes, the video shows, kids roaming around, the performer retrieving items taken from his table by the kids; yelling and crying; props falling down; adults walking in front of the performer as he does a trick, it looks like complete chaos

I am wondering if this is a normal for this type of children’s performance, or has every child performer posted his worst nightmare on youtube to discourage me?
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