Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Great Turnout!

I want to thank everyone who sent in their fears of performing in front of an audience. I have posted several of them for everyone to enjoy. We can all relate to these can't we!

Trenon's reply. "Once I was afraid when I did a church vent service of 200 or more people, but once I landed my first line, It was great!!!!!!

Rebecca's reply. " My first audience was a group of students. I was doing an anti-drug routine in front of some "tweens" which is usually a very volatile age. They got right into it and made me feel comfortable and it turned out great!"

Lisa's reply. " I was doing my first birthday party and my figure was a clown. I had him laughing so hard that I pushed a little too far on the head post and his head fell out!

I panicked! But when I looked around, everyone was laughing hysterically and I just made it look like part of the act and said "Look! He laughed himself to pieces!" At the end of the show, the parents were all telling me what a great act it was, especially when the head fell off!" (:

Larry's reply. "I was really nervous in front of my class. It was the first time I did it in front of a group. After they heard the first couple of jokes and they all laughed, I felt better and got a big round of applause when I finished."

Mark's reply. " Hi Steve, you know as well as I do that the feeling never really leaves you. The butterflies are always there when you get there and work themselves out after you get them warmed up. My biggest fear has always been, and always will be not being able to warm them up!"

So there you have it Charlie, No one can really say that they have never been afraid. Some ventriloquists who have been performing for years still get scared. I have a secret for you that might help. The next time you go out to perform in front of people and you feel scared, look for the biggest smile in the audience and concentrate on that one person while your doing your act. It makes the group feel smaller. and the biggest smiler is always the biggest laugher too! There's nothing like a good belly laugh at your jokes to give you the confidence you need to help you get through your act successfully!


Magic Mondays Team said...

When I was starting out with ventriloquism my first fear was the lip control as I felt this added to my GREATEST fear which was that the audience would not believe there were TWO people interacting on stage. Slowly I learned to forget about the fear of the lips as the lips take care of themselves with practice and confidence. I also realised that good CHARACTER was the most important element in the separation. That fear stayed with me for some time (and I'm an actor!)

These days if I ever have a moment of doubt it is always routed in my vocal concerns. The same fears you might have during your first night in a shakespeare play when it's time for that big monologue.

"Will I get through this without running out of breath?"

When you are speaking for two people these fears are huge and there is much pressure to get to the end of the line. In plays, once you get to the end of the line you pause. With vent, what usually happens is the the doll pauses but the vent carries on talking. See what I mean about the difficulty of vocal control? You never stop talking! What happens in front of an audience is very different to what happens in the rehearsal room too. When you combine the pressures of live performance with the lights and the crowd your vocal chourds can get stuck. Jeff Dunham is a master of getting to the end of the line. Especially with peanut. It's wonderful to watch one of those routines and just look at it from a purely vocal stand point.

Once I have worked the rouitne for three or four audiences though It's fine.

With totally brand new routines or characters I still worry about warming them up and how well the jokes are going to go over. The jokes reamin the most important element of ventriloquism for me.


Magic Mondays Team said...

I just thought of something else regarding getting through a routine whilst maintaining character and also the voice.

Wherever possible I try and keep my routines to under one minute in duration. Some of my kids routines go on over five minutes because of the slapstick and such but when I perform for adults I always keep it down. I do this for two reasons. It helps me get through it but it also helps the audience get throught it. In Australia we don't really have a huge history of ventriloquism and therefore the craft is not particularly embedded within the culture of performance art or the imaginations of the audiences. When I was 13 and I started doing ventriloquism I lived in England and my greatest heroes were Keith Harris and Ray Allen both of whom had their own shows for many years on the BBC. David Strassman had a fairly reasonable run here in Australia at one time (largely due to the fact that his puppets swore) but people are no where near as used to vent as they are in England, Europe or the United States. It's sometimes hard over here for grown ups to buy into this guy with the little wooden fellow sitting on his knee. especially if you are working a party or function where people don't even know there is ENTERTAINMENT in the first place let alons a guy entertaining with an artform shared by about three professionals (myself included) in the whole Counrty!)

Keeping the routine short and the jokes steady helps me to ease them into things. That way in a 30 minute show I can do four vent spots and three killer magic routines. It all moves so fast and the audience has a great time with all of the visual stimulae.

If you go into a situation where you are not established...even if your jokes are will probably struggle through more than three minutes (three would trun into four with laughs) in front of adults with a doll, Unless part of the act is a song or you have some terrific gimmick. I'm more of a raw performer when it comes to ventriloquism. Though I have very good control of the lips I don't do any of the special tricks (distant voice, multiple characters, singing, speed conversations etc. I just keep it short, funny and totally believable.