Smile like Kristy Yamaguchi! In his new book, Olympic medalist Scott Hamilton has an entire section called "Smile Like Kristy Yamaguchi". In an earlier post someone mentioned that a ventriloquist should not wear sunglasses while performing. I've done a lot of thinking about why.
When my wife and I watch figure skating we pick our favorites and it is not based on whether they are best. We enjoy watching those who are enjoying what they are doing. Although they are concentrating it doesn't look like it. They make it look effortless and, above all, enjoyable. My wife and I don't know a triple toe landing from a two toed sloth. (One has more fur.) So we could never judge on ability.
Your audience isn't judging you much on ability. That is decided in the first 15 seconds or so. They are judging you on your enjoyability. Don't LOOK like you're concentrating on your lips the whole time. You'll end up with a prune face and yes, it will stick that way! Just have fun! Don't SHOW that you are concentrating.
Remember Victor Borge, the comic pianist? He never tried to impress with his piano skills. He used his piano skills to have fun. He looked as if he were enjoying himself.
Add something to your show that is just for fun. So what if it is a sock puppet? Or talking to your hand? Or telling a funny story on how you got started? (Ronn Lucas and Shari Lewis do the first two very well and Dennis Lee is a riot on the last one.)
I was watching Jeff Dunham clips on Youtube last night. One of the things that struck me was how he allows himself to laugh at Walter. He seems to take as much joy in the caustic spew coming from Walter's mouth as the audience does! It is possible that perhaps he is laughing at how the audience is reacting to Walter. To me, though, it looks so much more like a conversation with a grumpy uncle, the kind who never smiles and always looks at the negative side of things while you are trying to stiffle a laugh at his attitude. It is so enjoyable to see Jeff having fun onstage....