(Close Window)
Topic: The Only True Reputation Maker
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 18, 2011 06:45PM)
Tom says the only true reputation maker is an original routine. I completely agree.

This is where modern ventriloquism really diverges from magic. Jeff Dunham isn't where he is because of technique or unique puppets. Although I think Walter and Achmed are brilliant characters, they are products of original thinking. Jeff is where he is because he writes good, funny, original material and performs it well.

Modern ventriloquism is more closely related to stand-up than to magic. Both require practice and hard work to be good at, both require good technique. But magicians can legitimately buy tricks and routines, it's a standard practice. They may not get their own television special, but they can get work without doing a single original trick. Ventriloquists can also, and I confess to using some things in my act that I didn't create but did pay for. But the hard truth is, if I'm not writing original material for my act, I'll never be more than mediocre as a ventriloquist. Ventriloquism is much more about being funny than being amazing. I've been thinking about this lately and taking a hard look at my act. I have realized I have less truly original material in it than I would like. I would love for the whole thing to be 100% original. That's not to say that to be original we should abandon the devices of the knee figure, soft puppet or vent mask. I'm just trying to write more original material. I've been working like a stand-up, sketching out a bit, trying it out in a show, refining the stuff that works. But progress has been slow.

Do you write original stuff, and if so, how do you work? Do you write longer scripts or work from notes on short memorized bits like a lot of stand-ups do?
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jun 18, 2011 08:37PM)
Writing original material, and performing it well, I also believe, is the real key to success in our craft. I read somewhere that Edgar Bergen even preferred to be known as a good writer that as a good vent. He wrote most of his material, even if he was given writers by his producers, because he said he was the one who knew his characters well.

After doing vent for around 2 decades, since a couple of years ago I've become more conscious of my material. I'd say about 80% of my material now is original to me, the remaining is some public domain jokes/bits that I tweaked/personalized for my act. I even rewrote my tapes-over-mouth closer (original routine by Bill DeMar) to make it original to me.

I have also developed several improv game bits which make my act fresh every time.

Because now there are many vents in my country (than when I started) it's very important for me to be more original. And I can only be original if I write my own routines. I am able to create my orig routines by doing a lot of club work at night, where I can test and practice my new stuff.

I'd say we vents should also put more time learning how to create orig materials the way we put more time learning the technical aspects (lip control, manipulation, etc.) of our craft.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 18, 2011 09:30PM)
My question is;

Are you talking about reputations among the brotherhood of ventriloquists where it is a small world and it is known what is copied, or among the local public where you take the bones of an established routine and fit it to your personality, it becomes a hit and you gain a reputation as a fine performer in your sphere of influence for the routine you are performing.

Take Ony’s example, he is working on an established routine, changing the end and calling it original to him. When does original begin?

In my situation, I have posted here that from day one of receiving the Chico routine, I have been working on it to make changes in order to fit me, is my routine original and how much of it is licensed?

If this is the case, then every ventriloquist after the very first ventriloquist that has used a figure has copied the original ventriloquist who carved the first head and every performance is a copy and nothing in ventriloquistm today is original.


Now I'm confused
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jun 18, 2011 10:07PM)
Vent is an ancient art form and if we really think about it maybe everything has already been done by the past vents. Just like in magic and mentalism, principles and secrets of effects may have already been invented and used by the past performers, so "original" principles may not have room today. So by being original, it can mean taking something from the past and creating/modifying it to fit your act, not doing it word for word, bit by bit.

What I did with Uncle Bill's original tapes-over-mouth bit was not only did I change the ending but I reworked the beginning and then added a different premise of the routine based on my character's personality. I also created a routine where I WOULD NOT need an assistant who'll tape my mouth. When I sent my ideas to Uncle Bill I was glad he liked them and even said mine was "the next best thing" to his routine--hahaha, coming from him I loved that! :)

Howie, here's my thoughts for you: at first perform the original chico routine AS INSTRUCTED many, many times... then start adding your own small bits here and there... taking out a few bits from the original... try new things based on audience reactions... and you'll end up performing it YOUR way eventually. That's how original routines are born.

I believe a modern day magician can still create original routines to classic tricks, like the linking rings or the egg bag.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 18, 2011 10:43PM)
I'm not talking about what other ventriloquists think. And I'm not accusing anyone of doing a bad thing by using standard routines. I do a standard rabbit-in-the hat routine. I do a good job with it, it gets laughs, I have a few little touches that are my own. Kids like it and there's really nothing wrong with it. I'm keeping it in my birthday show because it works. But even with the original bits in it, I wouldn't call it original.

I don't know why you'd be confused exactly though Buzz, it's a fairly straightforward idea. I am trying to write original material, my own ideas for stuff to make the puppets say and do in the act. Nothing borrowed or adapted. As I said, I don't want to abandon the traditional devices of the knee figure, puppet, vent mask or magic drawing board. I don't think we have to entirely reinvent the art to be original. I don't think originality depends on inventing a puppet character unlike anything ever seen before. I think it's quite possible to write original material for a very standard character like a cheeky boy.

I do understand that we can all do the same material in our own smaller markets, adapting our routines from standard stuff. We can get work that way. There was a vent being praised on this forum a while back. After we went and took a look at his video, most of us recognized a lot of 'adapted' bits (well, stolen really, pretty much word for word). But the guy in question is working.. cruise ships, corporate stuff, he's making a living. While I'd like to work at that level, I just don't personally want to do it that way. I want to develop my own original material and I'm wondering how others on this forum approach the job of doing that. Do you sit and write longer scripts or just work out short bits and refine them in front of an audience, either in a paid show or an open mic? Those of you who write your own stuff, what's your process?
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 18, 2011 11:31PM)
I don’t have the years of performing experience as some here do; when I decided to add magic to my ventriloquism I wanted more than to perform a trick in magic, put that trick aside and pick up another trick to perform then continue to do this until I ran out of tricks.

I read that Chico was a routine that could be legally licensed and performed; and it was a very strong routine; I could have told everyone I purchased the routine and just started performing it; $550.00 later I am a legal owner of Chico the Mind Reading Monkey.

The first time I watched the video that came with the box, I thought that it was not my type of routine, after watching the video a few more times along with the instructional video, I saw the promise in it and how I can make changes in the presentation to better reflect my personality

At first I thought I’d vent Chico, I made a practice video and abandoned the idea, I returned to practice Bill’s script of whispering in the ear, but I was not pleased with the results; after much consideration, I came up with a different direction to animate Chic

It will be awhile before I am ready to publicly perform Chico, but from the first day, it was never my intention to repeat the routine word for word from the script.

This thread was the result of a comment in another thread

“Hate to burst anyone's bubble - but the only true reputation maker is an original routine”
Soon, with professional background music from a quality system to enhance the experience and routines and props like the Magic Wand Maker, the Bigger Wand, The Human Xylophone and Dan my figure, I will achieve the reputation of a professional and successful ventriloquist and children’s performer in San Francisco; this was the type of reputation I was alluding to in the other thread.

I am not defending myself, I am expounding on the post I made earlier to clarify the implication of my comment; my post may have been misconstrued.
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 18, 2011 11:32PM)
It was like when I started my Horton routine called The Game Show. I got the idea that it would be funny if Horton Hogg wanted to leave the act and become a gameshow host. With input froma few people (including Mr Pitts, I have a truly original bit that is "ours"

Sometimes asking yourself What If is the greatest routine starter.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 18, 2011 11:54PM)
Terry Fator has admitted that he hires and collaborates with a paid writer, does anyone know if Jeff Dunham works with a writer?
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 19, 2011 12:21AM)
I don't think anyone took your comments in a negative way Buzz. I understand and respect your goals your approach.

I think that up until a few years ago, Jeff wrote all his own material. I think that with the schedule he has now, and especially when he was doing the Comedy Central series, he had to rely on some hired guns to help with the writing.

Neale, I'm glad you were able to turn the game show premise into a good routine. I love the 'what if' concept. I'm going to put that one in my tool box.

I guess, to simplify, what I'm saying is that I think modern ventriloquism is more closely related to stand-up than to magic. Do you agree or disagree? And if you agree, are you writing original material (which is what a stand-up does)?
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 12:26AM)
I didn’t think anyone took my post negatively, I felt I needed to expand on my post to clarify my position

Ventriloquism It is more like a stand up comedy illusion
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Jun 19, 2011 07:42AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-19 00:54, Howie Diddot wrote:
Terry Fator has admitted that he hires and collaborates with a paid writer, does anyone know if Jeff Dunham works with a writer?
[/quote]

For years when he was touring clubs, Jeff's opening act also wrote with/for Jeff. I don't have Jeff's book handy at the moment, but Jeff acknowledges the other man's contributions in the book.

Bob
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 19, 2011 08:18AM)
First I'd like to apologize to Buzz if he felt my comment was directed at him. It wasn't. There is nothing wrong with doing a purchased routine. You can develop a show that gives you a positive reputation, but the routine itself, IMO, will not be the "reputation maker". That is why I added the comment. Sorry if anyone misunderstood. It is my feeling (and maybe just mine) that when others are able to purchase the routine (not props) and do it the same way - it becomes standard.

On that note - Ony took Bill's TOM and made the changes that fit his act. He now has what I would consider to be a collaboration piece. He has the rights to Bill's routine and he took it in a new direction. In fact, when someone asked about it on another thread, I pointed Ony's video out as a great version. The fact so few people see ventriloquists, and the changes Ony made, I can see how he could easily develop a reputation from the routine.

Neale's Game Show and most of my act would also have to be considered collaboration pieces.

To David's question about relation to stand up and writing original material... Vent is definitely related to stand up today. People know what we are doing. So if you can't amaze, you'd better be entertaining and funny - otherwise there isn't much reason to watch.

I think most people start with basic routines and jokes. We are busy trying to learn the technique and dealing with the audience factor/nerves. Memorizing "proven" routines is a lot easier than sweating your lips moving and at the same time having to analyze why a joke bombs, plus how to get the audience back. That is why the script books were written. The problem is when people stay there. Most of those jokes were published in another time - and they just aren't funny to today's audiences. I have a few videos out there I should probably remove - but they also remind me of how far I've come and still have to go...

I "write" new material several ways. My favorite is to sit around with other acts and discuss the routine. We start firing ideas and jokes back and forth and it is written down or better yet - recorded on an MP3 device. It becomes a collaboration piece, but the others may or may not use the material. In some cases, we specify at the start the ideas in this session are strictly for X act.

I also purchased the "Killer Comedy" course. It gives great ideas for creating raw material and honing it. While helpful, it still needs to be worked in front of audiences - and lots of them.

Which brings us to Ony's suggestion to Buzz - which is the true gold.
[quote] at first perform the original chico routine AS INSTRUCTED many, many times... then start adding your own small bits here and there... taking out a few bits from the original... try new things based on audience reactions... and you'll end up performing it YOUR way eventually. That's how original routines are born.[/quote]

Ony does that in clubs, I work street shows in Virginia Beach. On those nights (usually two week stints) I do four shows a night back to back for 56 shows. You adlib, you keep the laughs and cut the dead weight. You hone, you adlib more - your "standard" material slowly evolves into original routines. Another reason to have a video camera pointed at you for review!

Sorry for the rambling post - its a great topic Mr. Pitts! Thanks for starting it.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 08:40AM)
So, the two top ventriloquists in America use a writer to refine their routine; a Miss USA contestant used the same completely borrowed routine to perform for the judges in the contest from her first pageant all the way to the finals.

Because a performer has good timing and can present material in a humorous manner, is the performer actually being original when he or she has paid another person to write a routine for them to carry out on stage?

In fact, The Three Stooges performances were original routines.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 19, 2011 08:54AM)
Buzz - just because Jeff or Terry use a writer, does not mean their routine is not original. If the writers they hired were Bill DeMarr and Tom Ladshaw, who pulled a script out of their book and gave it to Jeff or Terry - and the same script was being used by me, David, Neale and you - then I am certain one of us will be the next Miss USA. (Although I'm not certain I could pull off the swimsuit competition...)
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 09:11AM)
I could never be the next Miss USA, this is only because I could not pass the physical.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 19, 2011 10:06AM)
The Three Stooges routines weren't original. They were old burlesque sketches done by everybody over time. The Three Stooges started with what they'd learned in burlesque and added their own lines. "Niagara Falls" is not theirs. Everybody did that bit. Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" was not originally theirs. It was everybody's. They worked it around, expanded here and there, added a line here, another there, took out lines that didn't work. Made it their own.
Now...the best way to make a piece one's own, is to do it over and over till you've polished it to a high sheen. Problem is, of course, in the days of burlesque and vaudeville, people were doing the same routine over and over in a single day...then moving on to another town and doing it over and over daily...then another town...etc.
Vaudeville's dead, these days, burlesque is mostly women getting naked (which, of course, is not to be sneezed at. I'm in favor of it continuing. :) ).
To my mind, the "make it my own" thing starts the moment you get a script. You may not be able to do it in front of an audience five times a day (or more)...unless you redefine "audience." Do it for yourself on tape (which I know you do, Buzz)...do it for a few family members (maybe they're tired of being your audience. Fine. That makes them a toughter audience and gives you a chance to try to get laughs from them...it also gives you a more honest reaction to new material. They're not doing charity laughter any more). Do it for the kids next door. Go back and look at the printed script. Add notes on reactions...add notes on how you reworded a thing. Add lines that you found yourself adlibbing (if they're good ones). Try the act with the family now...or at least a portion of it...and the kids next door and the kids at the hospital (my foster son has discovered hospitalized children for his music sets...being young, he's drunk with the "discovery" of this audience. It's fun to watch him rhapsodize). Always make notes. Always note reactions. Polish the material. Don't be afraid to change it radically. Don't be afraid to remove large chunks. Don't be afraid to add large chunks. You may not have vaudeville or burlesque available to you as a classroom anymore...but you've got your portion of the world. Over time, you've stripped a routine down, removed the fat and added new meat and sinew.
I've never bought scripts. I write plays for a living, and have always written plays and sketches and radio and television and print, but early in my vent work (I started really young), I used jokes from "Ten Thousand Jokes, Toasts and Stories," and I used jokes from the back pages of "Boys' Life," and I used a bit I stole from Paul Winchell ("Ventrikalist." I see some of the most respected vents STILL use that bit. But I ADDED a bit at the end that puts a button on it. I see other vents have done the same. Different buttons...but they work).
So...it's okay to start with someone else's material. It's human nature to change it. And it's human nature to add new material based on experience or adlibs. It's okay to create new stuff and toss it into the mix and see how it plays. You CAN create a reputation with material you've purchased from somebody else...but if your reputation is going to go past your town, that material needs to be transmogrified, and original material needs to be created. Whether you create it or pay somebody to create it is irrelevant...if you perform it, you'll wind up changing it.

Well, that was long-winded, wasn't it?

-Philip

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 10:15AM)
Very long and with very good information

Editing it it shorter post would have ruined it
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 19, 2011 10:37AM)
I see, too, that I signed it twice. Well...I was multitasking at the time.
I should clarify, too...while it's okay to use material someone else wrote, it's not okay to steal someone else's routine. Wanted to close that loophole before the herd came thunderin' through. :)

-Philip (one time)
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jun 19, 2011 10:42AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-19 09:18, tacrowl wrote:

I also purchased the "Killer Comedy" course. It gives great ideas for creating raw material and honing it.
[/quote]


I highly recommend getting the "Killer Stand-up Comedy" course (I think it was Uncle Bill who recommended this to me in 2005). I loved this. For me, it's the best system to use when I write my own stand-up vent comedy material.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 10:58AM)
Philip,

Can you explain the difference between useing material someone else wrote, and stealing someone else's routine.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 19, 2011 11:47AM)
Paying for it.

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 19, 2011 11:58AM)
Good post Philip, thanks.

I am encouraged to see that writing is a challenge to us all, not just me. I sometimes feel like I'm 'cheating' with standard, adapted or collaborative material. But it's more important to get laughs from the audience than to insist on being some sort of purist.

I have a Ladshaw/DeMar routine I use as a part of my short set. I start with about three minutes of completely original stuff and then go to the Ladshaw/DeMar routine for a strong 4-5 minutes. It makes for a really tight, funny 7-8 minute set that never fails (with the appropriate audience - it's not a little kid routine). I have wrung my hands about this, but I haven't quit using it. I want them to laugh, so the routine has become a good foundation for the set. I can use it with confidence, which, as Tom pointed out, is important because ventriloquism is so darn difficult to do well. There's a lot to think about, so having reliable material is a relief. Like Forrest Gump says "That's one less thing (to worry about)"

The difference between stealing and using material is the same as with anything else. Was it used with permission? If someone sells a routine in a book or DVD with the express understanding that the right to perform this material is part of the deal, that's not stealing. If you see another vent or stand-up doing material and you 'borrow' it, that's stealing. That's not to say that you can't take a premise and do something else with it, but specific jokes and bits are a no-no. If you take a real standard, Bergen's "Night Before Christmas" or Winchell's "Ventrikolist" and use it with little adaptation... I think that's kind of a gray area, but nobody is likely to call you on it. The only problem I see with that is if you post something on YouTube for instance. The comments by the public... yeesh. People aren't generally well informed and they tend to believe that the first person they see doing something is the one who invented it. So anything we do will often be compared to Jeff Dunham - often with the implication that Jeff invented ventriloquism because he's the first one they became familiar with. Or if we post our version of the "Ventrikalist" bit, people might be inclined to say that we are stealing it from Paul Zerdin (who does a very funny version of it). So, since we are likely to be accused of stealing the entire art from Jeff anyway, it might be in our own interest to only post completely original stuff... but then, if it's any good, it's likely someone else will 'borrow' it from you or me. So.. it's a fuzzy area generally, and I'm not looking for a litmus test of originality because as has been pointed out, 'borrowing' material is as old a tradition as show business itself. I'm just interested in writing more of my own act, creating more original bits, and I appreciate everyone's input so far.
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Jun 19, 2011 12:04PM)
I've started working the comedy clubs and the one thing that is frowned upon is using someone elses material. I'm still guilty of having some "borrowed" ideas in my act but I am now thinking differently. We seam to think that there are certain standards that we can do, like a singer is allowed to sing other peoples songs, now that's fine if all you want to be is a covers band but that's not what is going to get you to the top.
If your timing and technique are great but your writting isn't then you can work with someone to write material for you! This is then origional material. Neither Sinatra or Elvis wrote their own songs but they were still origional!
I like to think of what I do as being a double act, again I could do famous double act stuff but I'd much rather do my own and also push the boundaries a bit more. Terry Fator won AGT because he was doing something different and he did it very well. There are some guys doing similar stuff now but they won't win a major talent show with that act.
I'm not there yet but I know which way I'm heading.

Colin Dymond
http://www.aceofdiamonds.co.uk
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 19, 2011 01:05PM)
One of the things on my mind in bringing up this topic is exactly what you are saying Colin. In comedy there is only one real rule.. don't steal. Everything else is fair game. This is why I drew the comparison to stand-up vs. magic. There are two completely different ways of approaching these arts. In magic, performing 'standards'.. cups and balls, linking rings, misers dream etc. is part of the tradition. In music, doing a 'standard' is perfectly acceptable. In the world of comedy though, it's just not considered acceptable practice these days. I understand that vent is a weird hybrid, but I still think originality is a worthwhile goal and ultimately the thing that will 'make' you, if you have the talent. You can be an excellent vent, but if your material's not original, you'll only get so far.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jun 19, 2011 02:11PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-19 11:58, Howie Diddot wrote:
Can you explain the difference between useing material someone else wrote, and stealing someone else's routine.
[/quote]

[quote]
On 2011-06-19 12:47, Servante wrote:
Paying for it.
[/quote]

[quote]
On 2011-06-19 12:58, Mr. Pitts wrote:
Was it used with permission?
[/quote]

I've asked countless acts for permission to use a routine or a line. Some I've paid.

[quote]The only problem I see with that is if you post something on YouTube for instance. The comments by the public... yeesh. People aren't generally well informed and they tend to believe that the first person they see doing something is the one who invented it. [/quote]

I've had that happen. A bit I did in Mexico years ago is on Youtube and someone made the comment about original material. I never claimed that. Someone else made a comment "So Zerdin stole it from him?" (Came across as rather snide - but its sometimes hard to read intent.) I never claimed it was original. I first saw Ken Groves do the routine back in the early 90's. I asked him for permission, and he told me it was an old standard - I didn't need anyone's permission. Years later, Zerdin did a version of it on his DVD. The person leaving the comment assumed, since Zerdin was better known, that he created the bit and I stole it. I replied privately and the person thanked me for clarification.

One thing I have discovered is most vents do standard routines. (Even the pros.) They may not make it big, but they earn a living. That is one of the reasons you sometimes see a pro at VentHaven and think "really?". Happened last year. The act in this mention - who shall remain nameless, didn't do their regular routine because the material was "borrowed" from another pro. They tried to present an act that wasn't honed and it looked like it. To be fair, its a nerve wracking thing to get on that stage to begin with - add into that not doing material you know and are comfortable with.

With youtube and the viral spread of comedy - hopefully it will encourage everyone to up their game!

Tom
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 19, 2011 04:47PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-19 12:47, Servante wrote:
Paying for it.

-Philip
[/quote]

I understand paying for it; The Chico routine is sold in two versions, one version is the videos and the buyer is responsible for searching for and assembling the props to perform the routine; I understand that gathering the necessary props would cost approximately $100.00. The second version is the complete package that includes everything necessary, including Chico, the routine’s props, the mat that is rolled down and completes instructions to perform the routine; the cost of the complete package is $550.00

I purchased the complete package for $550.00 because Bill had worked for fifteen years on refining the routine and assembling everything to insure I would succeed in my performance.

When I first opened the package, I began doubting myself, but after working on memorizing the routine and with the help of the instructional video, buying the complete version was worth it; and reading the thread, confirms my decision.
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 20, 2011 11:07AM)
Another thing I have noticed during the open mic times at the convention is the amount of people who use a routine from a book (therefor they didn't steal - they bought) but make no attempt to put their own spin on it or try to make it their own.

I agree with Tom that the stage at the convention is nerve racking. It bothers me to hear people in the restaurants later dissecting people's routines and accusing them of stealing from here and stealing from there. Sometimes it is truly unintentional to borrow, especially if you watch or listen to a lot of vents.

I am trying more and more to completely write my own stuff (sometimes with collaboration from others) and am starting to realize how hard it is.

I have never used a writer simply because I don't have that kind of money, but if someone wrote a routine specifically for me - then I still think that would make it my original routine.

Bergen had writers, Jeff and Terry have writers..doesn't make them any less original.
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Jun 20, 2011 01:12PM)
This has been a fascinating, challenging, reassuring thread. I have few original thoughts to add to the thread (that's sort of meta isn't it?), but I would re-emphasize the incredibly important role repeat performances play in honing material. I recently watched a YouTube video I posted when I first debuted Mrs. Lucille Goldman. I was surprised at how many jokes are gone from that routine in two years, replaced by others that are much better. I'll be curious to see if I think the same thing in 2013 when I look at videos of today's performances. I suspect so.

Bob
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 20, 2011 01:22PM)
I just realized that, if you do a thousand or more posts here, it doesn't mean you get credit for all of 'em. Doesn't bother me. Just surprised that it took me this long to figger dat out. :)

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 20, 2011 01:36PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-20 14:22, Servante wrote:
I just realized that, if you do a thousand or more posts here, it doesn't mean you get credit for all of 'em. Doesn't bother me. Just surprised that it took me this long to figger dat out. :)

-Philip
[/quote]

Philip,

That only means it will take you longer to obtain the elevated status of our friend TOM
Message: Posted by: ColinDymond (Jun 20, 2011 02:42PM)
Can't afford a writer!
When we think of getting a writer we think of the top flight pros but if you don't think you have what it takes to write your own stuff why not find a friend who you can brainstorm with. Two heads are better than one!
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 20, 2011 07:38PM)
I wish I had someone like that here to brainstorm with.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jun 20, 2011 08:18PM)
 I think there are good writers and there are great writers... which one we are would depend on our target market. I may write great adult oriented materials and be considered a great writer by people who frequent comedy clubs but might not be appreciated by people involved in kidshows or school shows. Or I may write kidshow materials and be considered a great writer by people involved in schools or children but might not be appreciated by people who like adult humor. I think a good reputation maker would be creating an act for a target market.  

I have totally given up the idea of performing for adult comedy bars because I felt its not my market. It does not pay good and the work environment is just not for me. I concentrate on kidshows and family shows. If asked to perform in an adult party, I simply do my kidshow act. :)

I have recently been involved in a lot of TV shows and noticed that a succesful show is not written by a writer but a pool of writers. For 6 months on a twice a week appearance in one TV show, I wrote my own materials which were based on current political events. No pool of writers, just me. I confess that I had a really difficult time. It was basically not fun. :) In another show I am involved in, there is a pool of writers and brainstorming was fun and without a doubt, a pool of writers can easily write a show. :)

... but then again, there are some people who can write on their own. They are the trully gifted ones.  :)
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Jun 20, 2011 08:35PM)
This is a great topic and I like what's been said above.

While I'm prefer to perform routines that I wrote myself, I sometimes like to compare the ventriloquist to a musician. When a musician learns his instrument, no one expects him to also compose his own music. If he can play the classics well, or the jazz standards, that is a measure of his ability. A musician can go a long way without being a composer. In fact, one could rise to the top without composing a single piece.

In vent, there are standard bits and routines that everyone uses, and they have been around for decades, but they still get laughs. A vent with good technique and delivery will make these 'standards' work. You won't get to the level of Jeff Dunham with standard routines, but my point is, early on a vent should be working on technique, timing, and delivery. I think requiring original composition is asking too much. For those who can do it, that's great. They should. But writing is a skill that not everyone has and that shouldn't stop someone from developing his ventriloquial talents and performing.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 20, 2011 10:41PM)
Thing about TV shows having multiple writers is that there needs to be a lot of product churned out in a very short time...and there are lots of people who get to vote regarding what's funny...and things get changed quickly. Ergo: multiple writers. Lots of stuff is written all at once in a short time.
When I was working in advertising, I enjoyed a pool of people batting ideas around. Sometimes. But sometimes I'd just write a 40 minute filmed or taped dramatization for a client by myself, because I had an idea and knew where to go with it.
And, as a playwright, I write plays by myself...but, again, I'm not writing a play a week. :)

You could easily grab a joke book like the one I mentioned above: "Ten Thousand Jokes, Toasts and Stories," look up jokes by topic in the back of the book, string some together and begin playing around to create a routine.

And then perform it for anybody who'll watch and listen. You'll begin to change it based on how they react.
Don't really need to be a gifted writer for that...just need to have a pretty fair sense of comedy, eh?

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Jimeuax (Jun 20, 2011 11:17PM)
Jeff Dunhams are 1 in thousand...at least..and if you ever get CLOSE to that level..YOU will be writing or paying SOMEONE to write original material for you. Jeff played amusement parks when he was a child and spent.... WHAT? 20 yEARS...playing comedy clubs 300 nights a year...that's how long it took him.........
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 21, 2011 01:09AM)
This is probably a shock but I don't want to be Jeff. We a;ready have one.

I just want to be a working ventriloquist in my little corner of the planet.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Jun 21, 2011 01:40AM)
I'm not shocked Neale. I feel the same way. I just want to make a living as a good, regional family and children's entertainer.

We all know Jeff worked incredibly hard for many years to get where he is. He has a tremendous work ethic, lots of talent, and he sets his goals high.
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Jun 21, 2011 03:15AM)
Read joke books, and read a lot of them. I have about 10-12 joke books (plus an iPhone App that contains 18,000 jokes where I can read during my free time). It can actually help you create jokes and even adhoc jokes.

I also watch TV programmes with my puppet and interact with him. It can help you create local & contemporary jokes.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 21, 2011 12:49PM)
Joseph,

Would you share what I Phone apps you have?

Buzz
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Jun 21, 2011 09:31PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-21 13:49, Howie Diddot wrote:
Joseph,

Would you share what I Phone apps you have?

Buzz
[/quote]
Search for this app in iTunes: 18,000 cool jokes
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 21, 2011 11:49PM)
Joseph;

I downloaded the free version, then after five minutes of advertising and other things going on to confuse me, I downloaded the version that cost me 99 cents, now it works perfectly,

Thanks for the tip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 22, 2011 09:23AM)
Joseph;

I have been reading the jokes on the program and I can see the value of it and it will give me a great advantage with helping me write my routine.

Thanks for telling me about it
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Jun 22, 2011 10:25AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-22 10:23, Howie Diddot wrote:
Joseph;

I have been reading the jokes on the program and I can see the value of it and it will give me a great advantage with helping me write my routine.

Thanks for telling me about it
[/quote]
No problem, just to follow what this forum is all about: "Ventriloquists Helping Ventriloquists" :)

Just make sure that you "favorite" those jokes that you like for future references.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 22, 2011 10:38AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-22 11:25, Joseph_Then wrote:
[quote]
On 2011-06-22 10:23, Howie Diddot wrote:
Joseph;

I have been reading the jokes on the program and I can see the value of it and it will give me a great advantage with helping me write my routine.

Thanks for telling me about it
[/quote]

Just make sure that you "favorite" those jokes that you like for future references.
[/quote]

Joseph;

Navigating the program is a bit challenging for me now, but I am getting used to tapping the correct buttons
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 22, 2011 10:38AM)
And let me suggest again, "10,000 Jokes, Toasts and Stories" by Lewis and Faye Copeland. My copy is 48 years old (purchased new. I've been doin' this vent stuff for a long, long time. Some folks might suggest too long), so there's no ISBN, but it's a great resource. The jokes are referenced in the back by subject matter, and, though they are often pretty hoary, they're excellent jumping off points for routines. I saw an updated volume in a bookstore a few years back, so I'm thinkin' it's still in print.
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 22, 2011 10:39AM)
Oops. Forgot to sign that.

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 22, 2011 10:43AM)
Philip;

There are some used book stores in san francisco, I will go look starting today


Buzz
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 22, 2011 10:45AM)
You won't be disappointed, Buzz.
-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 22, 2011 10:48AM)
I will post here when I find and buy it
Message: Posted by: Jimeuax (Jun 23, 2011 03:12PM)
Jokes tend to have a pattern, old or new, find what they have in common and relate them to your topic. There is old saying in magic, something along the lines "You will not get famous, or be original, if you can buy your act at the magic shop". But that is fame at the "National" level...so many confuse that with being a "40 miler" ---which is what A LOT of us want to do. Good Luck and hang in there!!!!!Jimewuax
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 24, 2011 10:30PM)
Philip;

This book is not easy to find
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 24, 2011 11:25PM)
Really? 'S'funny. I've seen it in bookstores. Hm.

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 24, 2011 11:27PM)
http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Arranged-Subject-Completely-Reference/dp/B00005V9XB/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1308976005&sr=1-3

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 25, 2011 09:13AM)
Philip;

The two used book store I went into did not have it, I just ordered it on Amazon and should be here soon, thanks for the link

Buzz
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 25, 2011 10:28AM)
Absolutely. :)

I just noticed they're selling one from 1965 brand new (which means, I guess, untouched by human hands for nearly fifty years)for $85 bucks. Heck, mine's older than that. I'm gonna be rich, I tells ya, rich!

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 25, 2011 11:40AM)
Philip;

I purchased mine for the astronomical price of 1 cent, with the shipping of $3.99 for a total of $4.00, the description stated it was in very good used shape and the seller had a 100% feedback.

So sorry to say you will not add to your vast wealth attempting to sell this book
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 25, 2011 12:07PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-19 09:18, tacrowl wrote:
First I'd like to apologize to Buzz if he felt my comment was directed at him. It wasn't. There is nothing wrong with doing a purchased routine. You can develop a show that gives you a positive reputation, but the routine itself, IMO, will not be the "reputation maker". That is why I added the comment. Sorry if anyone misunderstood. It is my feeling (and maybe just mine) that when others are able to purchase the routine (not props) and do it the same way - it becomes standard.

Sorry for the rambling post - its a great topic Mr. Pitts! Thanks for starting it.
[/quote]


Tom,
I just noticed the comment when I reread your post, I never took your comment negatively and I understood the meaning of what you wrote
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 25, 2011 10:58PM)
.
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Jun 26, 2011 06:18AM)
The great comedy writer, Robert Orben, once wrote in his book "Comedy Technique" that there are two kinds of comedy writers: the file writer and the creative writer. The file writer collects and files every joke that he / she hears and refers back to the file to get the comedy material they need. The creative writer actually creates the jokes that they use...often times relying upon jokes they have heard in the past and then writing a new joke or bit based upon this knowledge. Orben goes on to say that most writers are a combination of the two, and I think that is very true.

You can have the best and most original puppet in the world yet with nothing for it to say you don't go very far. Anyone can buy a puppet..it takes a comedic craftsman to put the words in the puppet's mouth the correct way. I've seen people with stock puppets do a brilliant job with a routine and I've seen people with custom made puppets (that had every conceivable animation or movement on them) fail miserably because the routine was terrible.

Oh, by the way, Mr. Orben also says there is no such thing as an old joke, bucause every new joke is usually based upon a joke that was created often many decades before. If they laugh ,it's a good joke..if they don't, it isn't! My caveat is that the joke must be in good taste (not vulgar or crude).

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 08:18AM)
Mark,

The reply posted here is spot on; and would also be applicable as a response in the thread I started a few months ago about the amount of movements in a figure
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 26, 2011 10:01AM)
The book I recommended to Buzz comes in handy. You can't build an act by simply stringing together jokes from any book. You can use 'em as springboards...change the ones you decide to use...and find humor in the transitions. You've also got to understand timing...play the audience like a fine instrument.
Two old theatrical rules apply. First one: "Comics say funny things; comedians say things funny. Be a comedian"

And second: When the friend of a dying thespian leaned over the deathbed and said, "It's hard to die, isn't it?" The old man replied, "Dying is easy...comedy is hard."

-Philip
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 10:04AM)
Philip, thanks for the tip and again thanks for the link to buy it, when I get it I will use it to expand my routine with Dan
Message: Posted by: Joseph_Then (Jun 26, 2011 10:47AM)
To add on to Philip's comment, I think joke books are not meant to build your act, you should build your act and use the jokes from the books (or any other resources for that matter) to "fill-in".

That's what I usually do. Once I build a draft flow of my puppet's routine, I read the joke books to fill in the jokes.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 10:59AM)
The book will spark an idea that I can build on
Message: Posted by: olivertwist (Jun 26, 2011 03:35PM)
Another great source of jokes is yahoo's worldvents group. Bill DeMar generously contributes an unending stream of jokes. He is a wealth of material and well worth reading. Save the jokes that fit your style and act, modify them so they work for your situation and personality.
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 08:06PM)
I am registered with yahoo's worldvents group, but I can’t figure out how to navigate the site, and get lost trying to read the posts
Message: Posted by: Servante (Jun 26, 2011 08:33PM)
Yeah, I had the same trouble with it. I'm just not bright enough.

-Philip
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Jun 26, 2011 08:42PM)
Thanks, Buzz. I try to be a student of comedy, especially as it applies to children's shows. I'm actually writing a comedy writing book which should be out next year.

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 09:08PM)
Mark;

You’re welcome; of course you will let us know when the book is out
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Jun 26, 2011 09:49PM)
Thanks, Buzz. I try to be a student of comedy, especially as it applies to children's shows. I'm actually writing a comedy writing book which should be out next year.

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 10:16PM)
Mark;

You’re welcome; of course you will let us know when the book is out
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 26, 2011 10:19PM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-26 21:33, Servante wrote:
Yeah, I had the same trouble with it. I'm just not bright enough.

-Philip
[/quote]

Philip,

We both are bright enough; remember it is Yahoo that not up to date, I think they are still using DOS
Message: Posted by: kidshowvent (Jun 27, 2011 05:58AM)
Sorry everyone..I didn't post my response to Buzz twice, but I see it came up that way. Must be a gremlin in Magic Café somewhere.

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
Message: Posted by: Howie Diddot (Jun 27, 2011 08:13AM)
[quote]
On 2011-06-27 06:58, kidshowvent wrote:
Sorry everyone..I didn't post my response to Buzz twice, but I see it came up that way. Must be a gremlin in Magic Café somewhere.

Mark
markwade@kidshowvent.com
[/quote]

The same situation here.
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jun 27, 2011 10:00AM)
Mark, can't wait for that book!