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Topic: HELP! Ventriloquists
Message: Posted by: wizardpa (Mar 4, 2011 04:42AM)
A few days ago I made a post about Ventriloquists and Magicians. It seems that some of you just basically do a ventriloquist show, no magic. I'm a magician that does 35-40% ventriloquism in my show. All of you got me thinking because there are no ventriloquists listed in the phone book in the entire New Orleans area. I'm going to do that when the next phone book comes out. But if someone calls me under that heading for a show, that is what I want to give them, a ventriloquist show, not a magic show. First off, just guessing on your part, what percent of shows would you expect to be for mostly children and what percent for adults? I'd like to know what show I need to develop first.
Now this is where I would like your help. I do not want to copy or steal your show, but I actually have no idea where to start. I have 6 vent puppets now, including a hands free toucan Axtell puppet and a hands on Axtell Toucan puppet. I have a not a full body, dog puppet and a Folkmanis shoulder Dragon puppet, and a full body 37" tall rabbit puppet, and also another full body funny looking bird puppet. Do I have enough vent puppets? Please give me an idea, not details, or dialog of your show, but just what to do. I think I only have maybe 3 distinct voices other then my own. I think my lip control as being pretty good. I'd appreciate your help. This is a chance for you ventriloquists to change a magician into one of your own.

Message: Posted by: wizardpa (Mar 4, 2011 04:44AM)
Oh yea, and how could I forget I also have a fantastic Axtell hang on Monster puppet.
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Mar 4, 2011 05:11AM)
Chris, my first suggestion is not to try and use 6 puppets in one show. That's too many..I would suggest using maybe 2-3 and I usually like to anchor the show on each end with a puppet. In other words, start out the show with a puppet and close with a puppet. In between you could do an Axtell drawing board, or learn to do a baby cry or distant voice if you don't do them already. If you want to change things up I would insert one magic trick in the middle somewhere (just to give your voice a rest). Also be sure you have at least one audience participation piece, wherein you bring someone out of the audience to help you. The Wanlu( or others) vent mask is excellent for this and it's still vent. ALso the Folkmantis puppet, while a nice puppet, my personal preference would be not to use them. You don't want to use puppets that your audience may all ready own of have seen in a store for purchase. That takes away some of the special look of your show when things are too common place.

I preach this all the time, kidshows are the most stable form of showbusiness and I probably do 90-95% shows for kids. I also do a show for the grown-ups (notice I didn't say "adult" show..it may be interpreted the wrong way) for banquets and after dinner entertainment, but that is limited. With the recession and all the cut backs the grown up shows are fewer and farther between. I've made a good 30 year, full-time career doing primarily kidshows and I'm partial to them. Good luck, Chris. Glad you're thinking vent now!

Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Mar 4, 2011 07:35AM)
Selling ventriloquism to an adult market can be "tricky". Mark mentioned his grown up shows as being fewer and farther between - yet that is how I earn my living and I'm fairly busy. At the same time, he is the nation's #1 Kid Show Ventriloquist and I seldom get calls for kids shows. Its all how based on you present yourself and market. Most people see puppets and automatically think "kids entertainment". Jeff and Terry have done a lot to change that, but you will probably find most cold calls will have their children in mind. After watching your video - I'd think you already have a great start on the kids show. For that reason alone, I'd recommend you start in that direction.

Unlike Mark, my act starts with a novelty puppet and moves into the regular ones, then closes with an audience participation bit. For novelty, you could use the Axtell Board, a sock, your hand, etc. I agree with Mark that the Folkmanis puppets, while used by a lot of vents, are too common. The look and quality of your Toucan and Hang On Monster are the way to go. Since you only have three voices to work with, stick with two - three puppets max.

I would also suggest you get Mark's book: Kids Show Ventriloquism. You can probably contact Mark to get a copy. If he doesn't have any, Clinton D just listed it on his blog the other day: http://ventdj.blogspot.com/

And since Mark also didn't mention it - July 13-16 is the Venthaven ConVENTion in Ft. Mitchell, KY. Attending that helps any vent - beginner to pro.

Have fun!
Message: Posted by: wizardpa (Mar 4, 2011 08:17AM)
I will be getting Marks Book.

This idea of mine might be easier then I think. I'm already part the way there with Taco, my hands free Axtell puppet routine. That routine is 20 minutes long. I also like the idea of the mask. What do you guys and girls think about my rabbit puppet and I doing about a 15 minute routine where he and I get to the subject of Magicians and bunnies. He finally says that anyone can do magic. I challenge him that he can't but yet he produces a real bunny to end the show.
It does not get away with my original idea of a 100% ventriloquist show but it would be a 85-90% ventriloquist show with Taco doing 3 tricks and the bunny doing 1 major trick.
Message: Posted by: wizardpa (Mar 4, 2011 08:28AM)
After looking at a bunch of Masks I think I'm going to go the way of The Magic Drawing board. Just my personal opinion is I think the masks are scary looking, especially to use on children.
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Mar 4, 2011 09:10AM)
I agree totally with Tom! I do market for the kidshows and there are definitely adult markets out there as well. Also, Tom, thanks for the nice compliment and for mentioning the ConVENTion. Listen to what Tom has to say as he is one of the top pros in his field as well. Happy venting!

Message: Posted by: Servante (Mar 4, 2011 09:30AM)
You absolutely CAN'T have better guys to advise you than Mark and Tom. Heed 'em...they know whereof they speak.

Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Mar 4, 2011 09:33AM)
I have received great advice from Tom, Mark and from Philip as well.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Mar 4, 2011 11:24AM)
Aw, shucks.