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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Vent for seniors (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

danfreed
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West Chester PA
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I'm kind of new to doing vent. I'm strictly a kids entertainer, and have been doing magic, balloons, caricatures, etc for kids for a long time. And I've been doing a little vent with soft puppets since this summer, and I'm ramping it up. But today I did some casual vent stuff for a small senior home for the first time, in addition to caricatures and balloons. I did it more like a walk around, for 20 minutes. It went fairly well, got some good laughs, and they appreciated it. Those ladies loved to hug and kiss the puppets. But do you guys have some advice on doing vent specifically for seniors? I'd like to do some more, I know they appreciate it and need some fun and I like making them happy, and I can make a few bucks at the same time.
Maybe a book or video? I'm more concerned about doing it for the seniors who have lost some of their mental capicity, regressed to childhood to some extent or another, dimentia, etc. I was going to try some of the material I do for kids today, and I did a little of that, but it seemed like that wasn't going to fly real well, so I didn't really do an act too much, mostly just had the puppets interact with the ladies. Advice would be very appreciated. Thanks.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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My experience led me to

A. Singing older songs
B. Do harder labials myself
C. Use harmonica to play melodies or blues riff as needed
D. Use a microphone even when I don't think the room needs one.
E. Also use large marionettes for walk around pre- show work.
F. Ask audience to sing along.
G. Repeat set up lines for jokes.
H. Don't talk down to them
I. Have centers invite families.
J. Assisted living centers are quite different than traditional nursing centers
K. Try Alzheimer's units. They are wonderful audiences and often smaller groups.

Love and prayers on Valentines day.
Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
tacrowl
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Maryland
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Dan - Seniors tend to love nostalgia. Talking about ventriloquists and their figures they remember as they were growing up is a great way to get into the set.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

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harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I agree nostalgia, talking and of course listening.

Yesterday I heard stories of Edgar and Charlie, Seńor Wences and Paul Winchell.

I did a program a month ago with out the puppets. After the "seniors " and I talked. They said it was good program but next time bring Nigel.

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Some things about performing for seniors I have learned from experience...

They are adults and they want to be respected as such, they do not want to be treated as children. Sometimes a stroke victim can seem completely unable to understand what is going on and yet, be completely aware. They just can't show it. So you can never assume they are like children. In fact, because they are at a place in their lives where their dignity is being gradually whittled away, simply because of the realities of their loss of ability, treating them with the respect they've earned becomes that much more important. So, no kid's stuff. Colorful magic is good, visual stuff, silks, rings. No 'look don't see' stuff. Music is always good.

But in my experience, the thing they love most in my program is Henry, my hard figure. I do a short show, about 25 minutes, then I visit the residents for another 30 minutes or so with Henry, one on one. It's amazing how folks who might have been dozing during the show just come alive when Henry visits them up close.

And Harris, as usual, is wise in his counsel... LISTEN to them. You might even learn something.
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
danfreed
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West Chester PA
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Thanks guys. I'm trying to get a feel for what works for the ones who are mentally past their prime. Harris I guess what you mean by doing harder labials yourself is that it's harder to speak clearly with some words, so just move your lips on those so you are understood? And I guess you mean repeat set-up lines in case they didn't hear you or you lost their attention for a sec? Tom, yeah, the nostalgia seems like a good idea. I actually thought about doing a laurel and hardy thing - me as Stan and use a Oly puppet.
pickin_grinnin
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Texas
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Nostalgia is a good route to go, particularly with people who have trouble forming new memories. Our oldest memories are the strongest, in the long run. That's why you might not be able to remember what you did last week, but you can remember every detail of a fun camping weekend you went on when you were seven. For seniors with Alzheimers, dementia, etc., incorporating things into your routine that may trigger earlier memories is a good place to start. Ventriloquism itself was still a fairly popular thing when some of the seniors you see were children.
tacrowl
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Maryland
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Quote:
On 2014-02-17 02:14, danfreed wrote:
Harris I guess what you mean by doing harder labials yourself is that it's harder to speak clearly with some words, so just move your lips on those so you are understood?


Want to jump in here. The labials are not hard to say clearly with proper instruction. Mark Wade, Ken Groves and I just finished the video sessions for the new Maher Interactive Ventriloquism Course and broke down the process into the simplest form of instruction ever offered. We teach people to actually say B, P & M without, let me repeat this - without the use of substitute letters or sounds. Yes, it can be done.

It is so easy, I taught a non-vent how to say B over lunch on Sunday, and she got it within two minutes.

Just because you work with seniors, or children, or your church, or you aren't getting paid, or "people are looking at the puppet", doesn't mean you should slack on your technique!
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

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danfreed
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West Chester PA
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Tom, I will get the new course when it's out. I never want to slack on technique, mine needs work, but is OK to start with. I find the best practice is with a real audience, so I won't get the good practicing at home forever.
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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To be truthful I don't have trouble with lip control.

Not perfect and pretty good.
As compared to my first audition 30 + years ago.
Kid, the director said, didn't 't see your lips move once. Unfortunately we could not understand a thing the puppet said.

I am not saying move your lips. I was saying change the dialogue so you the vent have certain words.
Good advise to keep working on technique to move from puppet mastery to vent.

I just mentioned that for those that might use that re write suggestion.

I am guessing you workers also get the "your lips are much better controlled than those on tv."
Non verbal work is important. These include

A. Pauses
B. double takes.
C. Coughs, sneezes yawns etc


Yes the closer the shows the better I stay.

Anyone practice in the car

For about 10 years I even practiced while shaving and brushing my teeth.
Last weekend I brought the tooth brush into the act. It went over well.

I was the comedy break during a Valentine Show.
Other acts- Corinthians 13, Our town wedding scene , song. My funny valentine, love quotes, Mama do you love me children's story.

Audience age 55 to about 90.
Harris
Still too old to know it all
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
harris
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Harris Deutsch
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I had a blast working with the Actors Choice group for the last 6 weeks. They are a Kansas City area group of actors singers and entertainers. All over 55.
Although 60, I keep getting asked if I match the age requirement.

Working with a theatre director is a plus for me.
.....and you????
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
drlaugh4u@gmail.com
music, magic and marvelous toys
http://magician.org/member/drlaugh4u
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