(Close Window)
Topic: Fake ventriloquist/ventriloquism
Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jun 28, 2004 06:34PM)
I just had an interesting idea and have been toying with it for my act. I was thinking of prerecording my voice on my show's soundtrack, and getting up on stage and having a "conversation" with a puppet. The idea would be that it would LOOK like a ventriloquism act for the first two minutes after which I'd have the soundtrack "crash" or "skip", etc. some sound effect that would tip the audience that I wasn't a ventriloquist at all.

I was thinking then of playing off the laughter that would come from this and then saying, well, I'm not a ventriloquist but I am a magician (then go right into my act).

I don't know how this would play with an audience but it's a thought. Any suggestions? (Also, if anyone has patter ideas I'm always open to suggestions!)
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 29, 2004 11:12AM)
Waylon Flowers (deceased) had the funniest (and dirtiest) live act ever (with Madame) and relied entirely on solid material. He played up the fact that he was not a vent AT ALL, he never attempted to not move his lips. The entire act was set up with the opening lines...

Waylon: "I'm NO ventriloquist..."

Madame: "Yeah...and I ain't no **** (expletive deleted) dummy either!"

Also Edgar Bergan was not a true vent technician but it didn't matter because the material was so strong and he played off the moving lips many times. There are many vents who show off their skills...look at me! I can talk without moving my lips while hanging from my eyelashes underwater—that's OK, if you can do that, but if you can't—go for the comedy and who knows, that puppet might be the hit of the show.

I would open with the recording (if you must) and then go into the "I'm no vent" lines and play it out as a puppeteer, really doesn't matter to the audience if you have good stuff and a top drawer puppet.

"I'm no ventriloquist!"

"Yeah, well I ain't no dummy either...heh heh heh..."

"I'm not a ventriloquist, I'm a puppeteer."

"A puppeteer eh, (looks around back) I thought I had a wedgy..."

"Never mind!" etc., etc.

Have fun and so will they.

Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jun 30, 2004 12:07PM)
The idea of using the recording serves two purposes. It establishes the idea of illusion for the audience (because if I do my job right, they may really believe that I'm actually doing the voice). When they find out that it was all a joke, I think it'd be a rather funny moment for them—I don't know how it would play though, having never actually tried it, nor having routined it—but I thought I'd throw it out to the forum to see if it gets any ideas going.

I *love* the routine above, it must have been absolutely hilarious to watch.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 30, 2004 03:25PM)
Shame there is no video record of Waylon Flowers' club appearances available. He was on TV all the time but to say his act was 'Blue' is the biggest understatement of all time so none of his real stuff ever got on the tube. The man was FUNNY! When he passed away someone reportedly bought the act and rights to Madame etc. and was in rehearsal to do it but that was years ago and have not heard anything since...besides...nobody wrote jokes like Flowers did. Volumes of Belly Laffs.

Waylon once called me to the casino to help him RE-write some 'clean' material for his show because Helen Reddy refused to appear on the same Tahoe stage with him because of all the 'bad words'. (Like she had a beef.) Anyway, it wound up making the show seem even dirtier when we substituted all the 'bad words' with clean ones, like fudge...and phooey...go figure.

Maybe somewhere there is a tape of his club act. If so I want one!

(The brief routine suggestion above is one I wrote for my own puppet bit...the 'wedgy' gag was a thread throughout.)

There was also a fake vent who appeared on the Carson show occasionally (was it Albert Brooks???) and into his act the stupid puppet began falling apart and the whole act went to 'pieces'. Very funny. Anybody remember that?
Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jul 1, 2004 04:46AM)
You know, I was discussing this with someone here at the Vancouver Magic Circle. She was telling me about a similar act where the puppet fell apart as the show went on and eventually all the guy was left with was a "talking" head—maybe it's the same guy! She said it was one of the funniest things she saw...

I really wouldn't be surprised! I guess there really aren't too many people doing the fake vent thing. I'll have to give that some serious thought but if done right I think it'd be a great opener.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 1, 2004 04:04PM)
That's the act. It WAS Albert Brooks...now a director but still one of the funniest men alive. He also did an act where he was an elephant tamer but the elephant died so he substituted a frog. Very funny guy. I think his vent routine and most of his other bits are available on Johnny Carson's DVD collection.

Message: Posted by: Carron (Jul 2, 2004 03:19AM)
Axtell manufacture their own tapes called Axtrax which you can use in your act. I recommend you purchase one of these from their site.

Message: Posted by: Alym Amlani (Jul 2, 2004 08:47PM)
Have you used these before? I'm eventually thinking of just learning to vent. but haven't had the time yet. :)

So much to learn! (I guess that's what makes magic addictive!)
Message: Posted by: muzicman (Jul 23, 2004 05:49PM)
I use Axtrax with Vern (2 skits) and the magic Drawing Board(1 skit). Be prepared to spend hours, day, months not just learning the routine, but the timing as well. If the timing is off, it distracts the audience. Practicing by yourself is different than a live audience because of the laughter. Once the track is recorded, it's up to you to make it look natural. THIS IS NOT EASY! I do pull it off, but I feel it would be easier if I could somehow control when the puppet talks. I mean,I know what LINE it going to speak next, I just need to sync it with the movement of the mouth and body. I really thought this would be easier than it was.

Here's a funny story on the subject. I would practice while I drove since I drive a lot and that time is better spent getting this vent act together. Well, one day I was driving down the freeway at 70 mph practicing my skit. I would use my hand to sync with the puppets voice. In one of the Vern the bird skits, there is a slight argument between you and the bird. Anyway, during this argument, I looked over and there was a family in a minivan all staring at me.....
as I was arguing with hand!!!
Message: Posted by: Paul Romhany (Jul 26, 2004 12:12AM)
The act you are talking about where the puppet falls apart is Jerry Lane. The puppet sings to the song 'I ain't got no body ..." and the puppet falls apart bit by bit until Jerry is left just holding the head. I have seem him do it several times, once years ago in New Zealand and then at the Magic Castle.

David Strassman does a very adult type show where the puppet spits and finally Dave gets fed up and walks off stage ... the puppet finally moves and talks by itself without anybody around. I believe this idea came from Canadian Ventriloquist Don Bryan.

you can view Strassman at http://www.chuckwood.com/

Don Bryan
Message: Posted by: harris (Jul 28, 2004 12:34PM)
Along the same taped idea, think of a bit used years ago by the Unknown Comedian.(with brown bag over his head)

He did a bit with a harmonica, that was later revealed to be a small tape recorder.

As a nearly normal vent I like to use vent and more open techniques as described above.

I was lucky to be living in Reno and saw Mr. Flowers act live several times. What great characters he created. (These days I listen to more family friendly entertainers.)

Thanks for the memories.

Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Aug 2, 2004 02:47AM)
Some great ideas here. I would imagine for the body falling apart, use velcro and attach everything then
little by little let the limbs fall.
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Aug 2, 2004 10:14AM)
The 'Fake' vent was Albert Brooks...

Jerry Lane is far from fake! :) I still remember Jerry dfoing a bit in the 60's (?) at a Con where his dummy had a tiny dummy...very funny and very good. Jerry made some fine figures even back then.

Wow all these names from the past!