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Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Lip control may be important, but I don't think it's the 'point of being a ventriloquist'. I watch ventriloquists because I find it engaging and the ones I consider good are the ones that make me laugh. To me, that would mean that the point, the reason for bothering to watch, is that I am entertained by it. I am not entertained by lip control. I may be somewhat distracted from the entertainment by poor lip control, but I am not more entertained by ventriloquists with better lip control. I am more entertained by ventriloquists with better characters, material, timing and delivery.
David Pitts
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Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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To put it another way, I don't think the point of being a musician is to demonstrate the ability to play the instrument. That should be a given. The point is to make music.
David Pitts
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Fonsy
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I agree, David. The point of ventriloquism is ENTERTAINMENT.
Bergen was the greatest ventriloquist because he was the most entertaining.

.
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I agree a ventriloquist must be entertaining, but I maintain that without lip control the person is a puppeteer and that's okay too.

Take another scenario; for years I worked as a makeup artist. By definition that's someone who can use makeup and technical skills to alter a person's appearance using regular makeup, latex, wigs, hair or whatever is necessary. Nowadays (especially in Australia) anyone can call themselves a makeup artist. They don't need to have the skills that go with that title all they need to know is how to apply regular commercially available (over the counter) cosmetics (and they don't even have to do it well, the Glam Fairy comes to mind). What this does is injure the industry and blur the line between a makeup artist and a beautician so that the professional term of "makeup artist" no longer has a defined meaning or purpose and is constantly undermined by bored housewives and girls who wear too much makeup. The industry suffers and those professionals who spent years learning a skill are pushed aside for people posing as the same standard even though they aren't.

We have a fairly prominent "ventriloquist" here in Australia who moves his lips and uses other people's material. In the long run the business of being a ventriloquist will suffer and those who have applied years of study and practice will have to settle for small fees because just about anyone will call themselves a ventriloquist and undercut the trade.

Just my thoughts on the subject Smile
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Dickens & Dave
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There's the Bergen mention again (but you knew that was coming Aussie).
Sometimes I feel sorry for Bergen, as I understand it, his lip control was quite good (remember who his teacher was) before the radio days when he sacrificed the lip control for clarity on the air waves, but vents ever since have used him as an excuse to not worry about lip control. I'll bet he never intended for that to be a legacy he left the art.
I'd like to see people use Bergen as an example of being entertaining, of how to interact with his characters, make them "come alive". I'd like to see them forget about his lack of lip control, only using Bergen as an example for those facets of the art that he did so well, and someone with great lip control as an example for that facet of the art.
But I know, I'm dreaming, people will never stop using Bergen as an excuse.
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Mr. Pitts
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I don't see Bergen as an excuse for poor lip control. Like you Dave, I see him as an example of how to entertain with ventriloquism. However, I've observed that his lip control isn't actually very good in his Vitaphone shorts from before his radio days. Here's one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnBgqCAZWaY

Take a look at around 1:34, just for an example, you can clearly see Bergen saying "I made it up". But you have to look for it, because the tendency is not to pay much attention to him because Charlie is very engaging.

But again, I don't think he should be used as an example of why not to bother too much with lip control, but why TO invest time and energy into character and comedy.

I think boring, unfunny ventriloquists do much more damage to our reputations than moving lips. But again, that's not an excuse, I'm not looking for an excuse. If my lip control isn't good I need to work on it. But if my act isn't funny I REALLY need to work on that. Comedy trumps technique, in my opinion. And I think the idea of settling for small fees because some ventriloquists have crappy technique and steal jokes kind of makes us like plumbers or something. I don't think we're hired like tradespeople are. We are hired as entertainers. Ventriloquists who fail to entertain will negatively affect the public's perception far more quickly than ventriloquists with rough technique. Look at the recent resurgence in the art. It's based far more on the perceived entertainment value of Dunham, Fator, Strassman, Conti, Zerdin etc.. than on their technique. Nina Conti's act is made better by excellent lip control, but without great material, acting and characters, she wouldn't have the impact she has. The resurgence in the popularity of ventriloquism would not gave happened without the focus on entertainment value by these artists. I just don't see anyone being booked for lip control alone. But if they're funny, they get work.
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Aussie
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I'm not suggesting anyone would be booked for lip control alone LOL. I do know when I say I'm a ventriloquist people ask me how do I do it without moving my lips... all of the time.

The people you mention are great entertainers, but they're also ventriloquists (i.e. they don't move their lips) and given the advent of close up television I have to wonder how far they would get marketing themselves as ventriloquists if their lip control was poor? They're successful because they give their audience what they are told their going to get and they do it extremely well not half way well. That's what gets them the big bucks.

Terry Fator amazed the judges not simply because he could impersonate a singer, but because he did it without moving his lips and that's because he said he is a ventriloquist not a puppeteer who does impersonations.

A boring puppeteer would be just as dull to watch as a boring ventriloquist.
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Dickens & Dave
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Quote:
On 2013-08-06 19:35, Mr. Pitts wrote:
Comedy trumps technique, in my opinion.

See, that's the point;
If someone wants to be a comic, be a comic, material is all that matters.
If one wants to be funny with a puppet, be a puppeteer, material and puppet character and manipulation is all that matters.
But if one wants to be a ventriloquist, then material, manipulation and character and technique all matter - no one aspect should trump the another.
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wizardpa
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As someone somewhat new to ventriloquism,(5 Years)I do not have repeating written into my scripts, but I respect what Bob says, and I'm going to make a conscience effort not to do this in a routine.

Thanks!
Servante
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And I didn't mean to get that lip movement thing going by mentioning ventriloquists repeating what the dummy says. That was sort of a side observation.
Forgive me! Smile
The original point was about repetition. I think what we're saying here on THAT topic is that sometimes it works, sometimes it's necessary for the rhythm, but it's a bad habit to fall into generally.

-Philip
Neale Bacon
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Quote:
On 2013-08-06 10:25, newbstermagi wrote:
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.


You could try it this way..

Me: How are you feeling today?
Old man: Same as always.
Me: What's that?
Old man: Whatever doesn't hurt, doesn't work.
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Karen Climer
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I agree that the repetition thing can become quite annoying, but there is nothing wrong with doing occasionally. (emphasis on occasionally) In a real life conversation between two people, occasionally one will repeat what the other one said. Vent conversations should mimic real life conversations. So you don't have to eliminate repetition completely, just tone it down a little. Just tone it down a little? Yes, just tone it down a little.

On another note, I find the most annoying habit a vent can have is not the repetition or poor lip control. The worst sin is to be boring.
MrG
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Mr. Pitt on point. Comedy trumps technique. The repetition rarely bothers me and never makes me look for lip control. Personally, poor manipulation is much more distracting.
Dickens & Dave
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I agree that poor manipulation is very distracting. Whether I am watching a ventriloquist, a puppeteer, or a puppeteer that calls themselves a ventriloquist, if they've got that figure's head steady whipping side to side with no reason, I'm done. I won't even hear their material, I'm "hypnotized" by that figure's head zipping back and forth.

But "comedy trumps technique"? I will never get that, neither material or technique should trump the other.
Our little vent forum here is just a small section of a bigger forum for magicians, so let's compare that.
A magician's material is the tricks that he does along with the way he presents them, his technique is his ability with sleight of hand and misdirection.
Can a magician not be good at the technique - sleight of hand and misdirection - and it's okay? Would you still consider them a good magician?
Would you say, his material was good - the tricks that he does along with the way he presents them - so even though he can not do sleight of hand, fails to misdirect, and you can see exactly how he is switching things and hiding them, would you still say he is good, or that it's okay, or his material trumps technique?
I seriously doubt it.
So why is it okay when talking about ventriloquism?
Our technique - our sleight of hand, our misdirection, is lip control and manipulation - why is it okay to downplay the technique part of our art?
I don't do magic, I tried, but I just could not do slieght of hand at all well, but if I follow the "advice" of too many people in vent, I should go ahead and do magic anyway and just insist that sleight of hand is not important.

And this comparison could be taken to other areas, say a musician for another example. If someone plays an instrument, and they don't know how to play it well (technique), but they pick really good songs to play (material), would you say it's okay? Would you still say material trumps technique?
Again, I doubt it.
And again I ask, why is it okay when talking about ventriloquism?
That's what I am always left with from these discussions: the question of why is it okay in ventriloquism to downplay, or even insist as I have seen some do, that a major part of performing the art correctly is unimportant?
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Aussie
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Smile I agree
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Bob Baker
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Hear! Hear!
Ony Carcamo
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Another most annoying vent "habit" I notice is this: vents who place the microphone way up it's covering their mouths, probabaly to hide their poor lip control. I have even seen well known vents who do this. Watch them in youtube.

The mic should not be higher than our chin. Our mouths should be exposed. As vents, LIP CONTROL IS PART OF OUR SHOW. We are not rock stars who seem to be eating the mics.

Look at how Bergen used the mic and mic stand.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=brT6gXdhLWk

And here, he even adjusted the mic stand down to proper height before he started his act... Wonderful performer!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wizwZV7EyLA
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Mr. Pitts
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There are a lot of points I could argue here, but I won't continue... it's an argument never going to be resolved among ventriloquists.

I do think it's interesting that if you go to Terry Fator's website, or Jeff Dunham's, you'll really have to look hard to find the word 'ventriloquist' anywhere. Is that because Jeff and Terry don't consider themselves ventriloquists or because they are ashamed of the art? I certainly don't think so. I think it's because their publicity and marketing people believe that the general public is more interested in the comedy. I think there's an understanding among ventriloquists that what we do is traditionally considered a branch of magic. But non-ventriloquists don't see it that way. Most people outside of it consider it a branch of comedy.

I went onto YouTube, by the way, searching for this plague of lip moving ventriloquists who are wrecking the art. I really couldn't find very many examples of that. I did find a good number of funny vents, some not so much, a few beginners who were pretty rough. Again, I saw more problems with the lack of laughs than the movement of lips. But the quality over all was pretty darn good actually. I was pleasantly surprised.
David Pitts
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Dickens & Dave
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Quote:
... it's an argument never going to be resolved among ventriloquists.


Actually, it's not an argument among ventriloquists.
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Aussie
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It's not the general public influencing people like Terry and Jeff to refer to themselves simply as comedians, it's the agencies and entertainment industry producers who do. Remember how the judges initially reacted to Terry Fator when he said he is a ventriloquist. Jeff Dunham has said many times he couldn't get a break in the industry because he was a ventriloquist and so simply referred to himself as a comedy entertainer.

Unfortunately the industry itself has a tainted, probably old fashioned view of ventriloquism and that's not being helped by people who blur the idea of what an actual ventriloquist is simply because they can't be bothered to make the effort to practice and hone the skill.
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