Ask yourself, "Is my show good enough for me to make a mistake?" If not, then you probably aren't pushing yourself to your full potential.
Think of ice skaters. They tour the country and do nightly shows without mishap. But when they reach the Olympics we are glued to the television, knowing that they are each pushing themselves to their highest level. The majority do so with major errors, but we applaud the effort.
I recently saw a juggler who easily did three balls, then four, and then five. Then he asked, "Should I try for six?" He was pushing himself to a new level. He didn't quite make it, but the audience appreciated the obvious effort he was putting into his skill.
The next day a ventriloquist apologized to me for bungling a difficult routine. She said that she shouldn't have tried it. I told her that it made the audience appreciate the difficulty even more than if it had been done flawlessly.
So, are you good enough to make a mistake? Do you have several years of experience or do you have one year's experience several times? The difference is in how you attempt to reach the next level. Go for it. If you make a mistake, "That's entertainment!"
Pushing one's self
July 21 2009, 4:02 AM
Wow Tony, very cool point. As a vent newbie, I think this is what I have been
doing, and sometimes wonder if I am trying to run before I have even learned
how to walk. I have a routine I'm working on with my Hands Free Vent Toucan, where he says he can do ventriloquism much to my surprise. I, standing on his right put a puppet on my left hand. I have to concentrate on not moving my lips in speaking for my bird while at the same time controlling my remote in my right hand to make my toucan move his mouth, and moving my left hand for the puppet my toucan is talking for. I want it to seem that the toucan is doing a poor job of ventriloquism but thinks he is doing a great job of not moving his lips in speaking for the puppet. Practice is OK, but I wonder how it will go when faced with a live audience.
Two can vent
July 21 2009, 6:40 AM
Your toucan vent idea sounds like fun. You'd have to build up the premise since many members of the audience don't know what the word ventriloquist means, particularly if English is a second language.
At the end you can politely inform the toucan that you saw his lips moving.
"That is NOT likely!"
"I did. It was just a little, but I saw your lips move."
"I don't HAVE any lips!"
Question: If a chicken doesn't have lips why do chicks have such nice ones?
Quotes magicians or vents are likely to hear
July 21 2009, 3:12 PM
Here are some quotes and words that ONLY ventriloquists and/or magicians will understand.
"Packs flat, plays big."
"Side to side eye movement."
"Leave them wanting more."
"Big movement hides the small movement."
"Comes with winkers!"
"Head rotates 360 degrees." (Okay, so people who watched The Exorcist have heard that one.)
"I work close-up."
Thanks Tony, I needed that!
July 22 2009, 12:39 AM
Last weekend we had two puppet and music gigs. The first, on Friday night went really well. The second on Saturday night was terrible, the stage was far too high and they had tables right across the front of the stage. We couldn't set-up closer down with the people because there were allot of 2 year olds there wandering about without supervision, and so when we did our puppets and magic, even though we arranged for the kids to come closer, most couldn't see us and the parents seemed to care less. They were even further away boozing and talking! It left us feeling flat, and thinking what we would do if we encounter that next time. So your words of encouragement helped allot and in future I think we'll be more assertive about what we need to perform well. it's in their interest as well! The folks who booked us were pleased with us and thanked us warmly, but we knew it could've been 70% more entertaining with a bit of pre-planning.
July 22 2009, 8:02 AM
Another reason it's good to get there earlier than necessary. If I find a table in the way I often cover it with a colorful cloth, even if it's just a 36" silk, and put some props on it. Then it's part of my set. That wouldn't have worked outside and with tables on a different level.
Pre-show things to look for:
Audience comfort: Heat, sun in eyes?, too close to speakers?
Your comfort: Heat, sun in eyes?
(I saw a performer last night at a library. I knew that library to be on the warm side. He came out with long sleeves, a vest, and gloves. One glove was used to wipe the sweat pretty soon. He did a great job, but couldn't have been comfortable. He did have a fan pointed his way, so he had done what he could.)
Visuals: Lighting, stage design
Audio: Most important and most often neglected!
So think CAVE when you walk in. Comfort, Audio, Visual, Everything else. It only takes five minutes to check though it may take longer to change.
July 22 2009, 8:03 AM
Have you ever noticed that the Lord never humbles us in private?
Somebody STOP me!
July 22 2009, 6:46 PM
I did a library show today and forgot the motto, "Leave them wanting more." I was having so much fun that I went over by about 5 minutes. The kids enjoyed it but it really puts a bad taste in the mouth of parents who have a schedule to keep. Watch the clock, folks.
I tried a new ending. I asked a child a question from the program and said, "If you get it right you get a prize." He did. I gave him my business card. "Here's my business card." That was a fun way of letting parents know that I had business cards with me.
July 23 2009, 4:39 AM
Thanks Tony for the advice. I must say this is probably the biggest thing that I am guilty of. So far, as far as I know, this has not been a problem, but it could be. I end all my shows with a great 3 trick routine with the production of a live rabbit, so I can't cut that out. But, I will have a few tricks before those that can be cut out if need be, and will try to be more observant of the time.
I feel that I learn something from almost every show I do. It is better to learn about something bad from another if possible.
Maybe we could start a post, if one is not already here, titled: Learn from my mistake.