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Bob Baker
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I watched a lot of vents this past week at the ConVENTion, and I was dumbfounded at how many of them repeat in their own voices what their puppets just said. Time after time. Not just amateurs, but even some of the full-time working pros.

Puppet: I visited my grandmother this week.
Vent: You visited your grandmother.

C'mon! If your puppet cannot be understood, work on its diction. Don't parrot it.

Sermon over.

Thanks. I feel better.

Bob
Dickens & Dave
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LOL - this is an oldie, and I'm sure the ones that do it don't even realize how noticeable it is.
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Joseph_Then
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I know how you feel, Bob. I have to admit that I did that once a while and have been working hard to get rid of it.

As you said, the only way to get rid of repeating yourself is to work on diction. May I also add that confidence plays a part too as lack of confidence makes you want to repeat what your buddy said. Smile
-----



Joseph Then

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Servante
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One of the reasons, though, is that it's a vaudeville rhythm. In vaudeville and burlesque, the straight man often repeated the comic's set up line because it made a rhythm and because the old blackouts and bits often moved along quickly. Repeating the set up made sure that the audience "got it," though things were being said quickly. I just finished a run with a show that featured an olio, and we had a discussion with the cast about it. Still, it's not likely to be necessary with a vent act, which moves at a slightly slower pace than the slam-bang of the old vaud stuff.

-Philip
Dickens & Dave
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There's times too, when it could be a useful tool, if you're having "a moment" and your next line isn't coming immediately to your lips, it can buy you a few seconds. But of course with that said, if you're doing it too often, you either need to practice your routines more, or get checked for alzheimer's.... Smile
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Aussie
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 15:34, Dickens & Dave wrote:
There's times too, when it could be a useful tool, if you're having "a moment" and your next line isn't coming immediately to your lips, it can buy you a few seconds. But of course with that said, if you're doing it too often, you either need to practice your routines more...


I think that's likely to be the reason for many vents repeating their figure as well. Eventually it just becomes a habit and not necessarily because they don't think you understood what their figure has just said. I know I've done it when I get a little nervous (yep I still do from time to time).
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Fonsy
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 14:58, Servante wrote:
One of the reasons, though, is that it's a vaudeville rhythm. In vaudeville and burlesque, the straight man often repeated the comic's set up line because it made a rhythm and because the old blackouts and bits often moved along quickly. Repeating the set up made sure that the audience "got it," though things were being said quickly. I just finished a run with a show that featured an olio, and we had a discussion with the cast about it. Still, it's not likely to be necessary with a vent act, which moves at a slightly slower pace than the slam-bang of the old vaud stuff. -Philip


I agree, Philip. Abbott and Costello frequently used repetition because they had such a fast vaudeville pace.
If a vent routine moves along quite quickly, then repetition will be necessary for the audience to catch the jokes.
Also, a vent who performs for small children also needs to incorporate repetition regularly into the routines.

OLD JOKE
What's black and white and red all over?
I don't know. What is black and white and red all over?
A newspaper.

The joke doesn't work without the repetition.
mikeoui
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I agree on the diction point, but there is an interesting dilemma that I'm faced with working in Quebec City that relates to the subject. I will be doing bilingual shows (French and English) when I start performing here and I've been trying to think of a creative way to do this. I think that having the puppet speak in one language and then having me repeat back to him (as illustrated in the original post) in the other language would be a less boring way than having each person/character repeat themselves in the other language.
Fonsy
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 16:29, mikeoui wrote:
I will be doing bilingual shows (French and English) when I start performing here and I've been trying to think of a creative way to do this. I think that having the puppet speak in one language and then having me repeat back to him (as illustrated in the original post) in the other language would be a less boring way than having each person/character repeat themselves in the other language.


You may run the risk of losing both audiences if you switch back and forth.

I live in Taiwan. Plays or programs performed in English always include the projection of slides (Power Point, these days)
with the translation into Chinese. Even a Royal Shakespeare Theater production that came to Taipei used this method.

If you could get an assistant to run the slides while you perform in one language,
then you can reach both audiences.

.
KeithS
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Hi Bob,

Although others have mentioned the "comedy patter" thing, I agree that it probably has more to do with lack of good, or feeling insecure about one's, diction. I have also noticed that a lot of vents repeat the character's lines. I have done that as well, especially when I was younger, and I’m still very conscious of whenever I do it.

The thing that I try to keep in mind when practicing is how "real" people talk in dialogue. People do repeat what others say, sometimes. So, I think it is appropriate in a vent act to give that illusion of two "real" people talking. But, when a vent does it excessively, then I can't help thinking that it's a diction issue.

I believe ventriloquism is a relatively easy skill to initially learn. If we break it down, there are really only a handful of skills that a good vent needs to know. BUT a good vent keeps learning those skills over and over - practicing over and over - to get truly proficient. Speaking with excellent diction without lip movement is definitely one of those skills.
Dickens & Dave
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 17:03, KeithS wrote:
The thing that I try to keep in mind when practicing is how "real" people talk in dialogue.

That's really the key to what people need to keep in mind, the exchange between you and your character should flow like two people having a conversation. That's one of the things I love about Bergen, his "conversations" with his characters did just that, they flowed like two people talking.
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Wanlu
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Aside from the patter and punchline set-up, I think repeating the figure's line can also be done when the sentence has hard to pronounce words...

Figure: I went to the bakery today...
Vent: really...you went to the bakery? Why?
(No punchline...just an example) (and yes Bakery for me is hard to pronounce) Smile


But some vents over use the technique and repeat lines that don't need to be repeated... sometimes almost all the figure's lines. Im guessing this is because it became a habit already and no longer a technique.

Might be not that annoying to a non vent but for a pro vent, it could be very annoying. Smile
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Wanlu
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Aside from the patter and punchline set-up, I think repeating the figure's line can also be done when the sentence has hard to pronounce words...

Figure: I went to the bakery today...
Vent: really...you went to the bakery? Why?
(No punchline...just an example) (and yes Bakery for me is hard to pronounce) Smile


But some vents over use the technique and repeat lines that don't need to be repeated... sometimes almost all the figure's lines. Smile

Might be not that annoying to a non vent but for a pro vent, it could be very annoying. Smile
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damien666
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I only have a half hour of material - this helps me stretch to an hour Smile
Just kidding.
I know that I am guilty of this sometimes.. But I think it does follow
How people sometimes actually speak - especially to a child character.
I talk to my young nephews like that all of the time.. It sets up where they are going with their train of thought.. Whereas just flowing with a statement can lead the conversation..
But sometimes I am repeating what they say because They have bad diction Smile so that argument has merit as well!
Aussie
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I think the vaudevillian technique of repeating the other is a little dated these days. We live in a fast world and most people are use to it. We don't do children's shows so there's really no need for us to repeat. I do agree with Bob it gets annoying hearing the vent repeating the figure because sometimes it just continues on and on. But to be fair I believe many vents who may do this might be part timers or hobbyists and so don't have the time to dedicate to rehearsals to improve diction or perfect their scripts.
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mikeoui
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Quote:
On 2013-07-22 16:53, Fonsy wrote:

You may run the risk of losing both audiences if you switch back and forth.

I live in Taiwan. Plays or programs performed in English always include the projection of slides (Power Point, these days)
with the translation into Chinese. Even a Royal Shakespeare Theater production that came to Taipei used this method.

If you could get an assistant to run the slides while you perform in one language,
then you can reach both audiences.



What I failed to mention is that this is street performing. What most performers do is start by asking if there is anyone in the audience who speaks ONLY English or ONLY French and then make a judgement call based on that while doing occasional translations if there are a couple people who don't speak the chosen languages. With only 30 minutes to set up, perform, and tear down, any projections are pretty much out of the question. I'll keep that in mind though. Thanks!
Circusman
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Could always use a parrot & get away with it !!!
newbstermagi
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Sometimes diction gets in the way, and to repeat it actually aids the comedy. I have a new old man character, and I'm playing with the following dialogue:
ME: So you feel good, Nothing Hurts?
OLD MAN: Nothing Hurts
ME: Why's that?
OLD MAN: Nothing Works.
ME: Nothing Works. I see.
"Nothing hurts" and "Nothing works" sound almost alike in the voice I am currently using. It ultimately comes down to experimentation with the voice and dialogue. But there can be a cadence in that dialogue that makes repeating it, although not my primary choice, funny in it's own way. Hope I'm making sense...
Servante
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As I said up there^ somewhere, the old vaudeville bits make repetition necessary. "Philip, I have a problem!" "You have a problem? What's your problem, Karen?" "It's my chest!" "Your chest, I don't see anything." "That's my problem!" (exit)

But yeah, without the rhythm it can be annoying. I have a family member who'll call me up and say, "So, what are you doing?" "Just cleaning the office." "Just cleaning the office, huh?" Drives me nuts. I've started replying with a question. That helps. Smile

But, in looking over videos of a lot of avocational vents, I see a lot of repetition simply because their figures' voices are muffled. And they're muffled because the vent is concerned more about lip movement than the material. And yet, these same vents keep their heads down so we can't see their lips, anyway. Now, I know we've had this discussion here before, and it's led to verbal warfare (or therthal warfare), But, while lip control is VERY (thery) important, clarity of the figure's diction shouldn't suffer for it.

I write for a living. I write theatrical presentations for a living. Plays. Repetition is a tool in my toolbox, but only where it's appropriate to the rhythm. Audiences have quicker minds than they used to. They catch on a lot quicker. I've noticed this in previews of my plays, where I'm watching to polish. I wind up cutting out a lot of repetitious dialogue because, though it was necessary thirty years ago, it isn't anymore. I attribute this to the video game culture that keeps people on their toes...which then influenced television and film to do quick cuts and move quickly (You never see crossfades anymore. The audience doesn't need them), which keeps people who don't necessarily play videogames on their toes as well.

-Philip
Aussie
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Quote:
On 2013-08-06 13:07, Servante wrote:
.... Now, I know we've had this discussion here before, and it's led to verbal warfare (or therthal warfare), But, while lip control is VERY (thery) important, clarity of the figure's diction shouldn't suffer for it....

-Philip


But isn't that the point of being a ventriloquist, the fact that you can speak clearly without moving your lips?

I've seen this discussion so many times and of course Edgar Bergen always is brought up. I believe to keep the art of ventriloquism alive it should be practiced the way it is meant to be. There's nothing wrong with being a puppeteer. Take Wayland Flowers and Madame for example, they did very well for themselves and he never claimed to be a ventriloquist.

Lip control is at the forefront of ventriloquism. You don't have to have a vent figure to be a ventriloquist, but you do have to have a puppet to be a puppeteer.
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