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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Importance of Lip control (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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daffydoug
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I don't want to offend anyone with this post...I am just going to report the facts as they exist..then ask a question.

I'm definitely not intending this post to denigrate any fellow vent.

OK. That said, here goes: Today at work, my plant manager approached me and asked me if I had seen the Letterman show last night.

He told me, in his own words, "They had a ventriloquist on that was pretty good BUT, man he looked like he was talking out the side of his mouth! (here he demonstrated for me using a lopsided mouth expression like...well, like people use when they talk out the side of their mouth!)

"And man, his throat was moving up and down like crazy!" (Again he gestured wildly with his hand near his throat to demonstrate.)

I explained to him that Jeff was one of, if not THE top vents working today, and that lip control probably was not all that really important. After all, look at Bergan, right?

But then, after the conversation was over, I began to think to myself about what I had said in Jeff's defense.

I couldn't help but remember the last time I saw Jeff perform. Well, all I can say is I noticed the same things that my plant manager had noticed.

And I mean that in NOT a mean way. Just objectively reporting facts.

After all, one can not really argue with Jeff's fame and current popularity!

So then, the question is this: Since we are taught from the beginning how important lip control is, what then is the truth? Is it REALLY all that all fired important as we have been taught? (At least as an ingrediant in the overall recipe for being a succesful (read EMPLOYED) vent?

Aren't their more important elements to focus on...such as creating great CHARACTERS and nailing them...such as Jeff does? Audiences LOVE Jeff..and his pals.

Perhaps if he had waited until he had obtained PERFECT lip control, he's still be off in a room by himself somewhere practicing, and NOT getting paid the big bucks!

What do you all think on the subject?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Lou Hilario
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I also saw Jeff on Letterman last night. Yes, his lip movements were super obvious but his character "Walter" was really great. Attention was focused on the figure most of the time. I guess as long as one brings personality and character to his puppet, lip control isn't that important anymore.
But in my case, I'm not that obvious as Jeff. Another thing I noticed is that he doesn't look at his puppet. He looks at the audience while the puppet is talking.
The one thing I liked is he transferred on the other side while Letterman came to shake his hand.
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daffydoug
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Transferred on the other side? I'm not sure what you mean.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Steve V
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The other vents kept their puppet on their right hand so when Letterman shook hands with them they used their left in that wussified way. The fellow last night switched the puppet to his left hand so he could shake hands properly. The guy last night could have not even bothered venting as the character was so good. Scorch and his handler were outstanding. Jay seemed rushed and I've seen that routine slower in presentation and liked it better. Jay has the best venting skills so far though.
Steve V
Eddie Garland
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It has been a fun week seeing all these ventriloquists one after the other. I must say that seeing Willie Tyler and Lester was really special, it had been a long time since I saw them perform. Jay and Darwin were fun. Jay had already performed one Broadway run through then did Letterman then returned to the Helen Hayes and did another preview show...had to be a crazy day for him.
Ron and Scorch...what can you say? Scorch is real.
Jeff and Walter...what can you say? Walter is real.

Lip control has got to be tough on a tight TV camera shot but sit front row at Jay Johnson's Broadway show and you will swear you witnessed Magic.
Bob Baker
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Jeff's lips do move a tiny bit, but I don't think it takes away from his performance at all. His labials are terrific: he certainly does not try to hide his "B's" and "P's." Is he techncially as good as Jay Johnson? No. But then who is? But what a fabulous performer Jeff is!! Hilarious, topical, and comes across as a nice guy.

I just watched his DVD "Arguing With Myself." It's less than $10 from Amazon.com, and is a fabulous, LOL show. You'll see him do all his characters. They come to life so wonderfully and are so funny that I think you'll agree that a little lip movement doesn't take anything away at all.

Bob
marty.sasaki
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I wonder about the throat movement. I noticed this with Jeff on "Arguing with Myself". However, it didn't take long before I stopped looking at Jeff as the ventriloquist and looked at him a guy talking with these living characters.

I saw Jay Johnson in "Two and Only" when he was in the Boston area, and his lip control was very good, but again, it wasn't long before I stopped thinking about it except when he drew attention to things.

Folks in the Yahoo group Worldvents (http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/worldvents/) have mentioned that Jim Henson never tried to be a ventriloquist but when he appeared with Kermit folks didn't really look at him (his lips were moving when Kermit spoke) but a Kermit when Kermit was talking.

So, in my opinion, the overall effect is much more important and the illusion of life is the most important. It's too bad that the vent's only had about 5 minutes of time, not really enough time to get into the characters and to lose yourself.
Marty Sasaki
Arlington, Massachusetts, USA

Standard disclaimer: I'm just a hobbyist who enjoys occasionally mystifying friends and family, so my opinions should be viewed with this in mind.
jlibby
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First, anyone who can their throat to stop moving when doing vent is the greatest ventriloquist in the world!

Second, while lip control is important, it's more important to have great characters and great material IMO. Jeff has admitted that he's more concerned about being funny than about having a perfectly still lip. He's a headliner in comedy clubs, major corporate venues, and is a recipient of the Stand-Up Comedian of the Year Award. Draw your own conclusions.

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damien666
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In early Jeff TV appearances, Jeff didn't move his lips as much as he does nowadays... same as Ron. I am curious as to how and why thier technical skills have diminished so much over the years. Especially with the amount of shows they do. Is it a case of Constant Practise makes better; constant Performing makes worse??
I am a fan of these vents, but to a lay audience - a ventriloquist is somebody who doesn't move their lips. Sure a character can be strong and funny and the crowd will be entertained. If you ask someone after the show if they liked it they would probably say "Yes... BUT he moved his lips". At one time these vents were close to technically perfect - now it seems as if they have gotten lazy.
daffydoug
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These are all VERY interesting viewpoints. And they really make for a lot of food for MORE thought on the subject.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Ony Carcamo
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Perfect lip control is doable--just look at any footage of ventriloquist Arthur Worsley. I mean PERFECT! But lip control is just one aspect of the art of ventriloquism. The entertainment value is another.

I've seen all the five vents in the Letterman show. They were ALL FANTASTIC! Lip control, I liked Willy Tyler's and Jay Johnson's. Material, I liked Jeff Dunham's and Todd Oliver's. Vent tricks, I liked Ronn Lucas' very fast voice changes in "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and his excellent distant voice. Each has his own highlights.

And by the way, ALL OF THEM had masterful puppet/figure manipulation! And that's a mark of a true pro.
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daffydoug
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True and well stated. There are MANY elements that go into making a succesful vent act. We all may be strong in some areas and weak in others. The trick is to EMPHASIZE your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses!

Correct?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Ony Carcamo
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Quote:
On 2006-09-24 16:56, daffydoug wrote:
The trick is to EMPHASIZE your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses!

Correct?


I totally agree with you on this, daffydoug, 100%!
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Steve V
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So emphasizing my weaknesses and minimizing my streanghts were wrong? Dang it, now you tell me.
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indridcold
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I saw the show and I didn't really notice anything. Of course Walter was just so fun to watch I did'nt pay much attention to it. I know that my lips just don't move when I vent, and I have never tried to not move them. When I am chilled out and just doing my thing my lips just stay natural whever they are, smiling or 'relaxed'. Im always interested in people who have problems with lip control, does it happen to most vents? I haven't encountered it in my very short experience with it all.

Dave
harris
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I am guessing that many of you that have good lip control have heard something similar to: "Your lip control is better than anyone I have seen on T.V.".

As a part time vent, I know I have heard this over the years.

IMHO character development, manipulation, script writing and lip control make up a great vent bit. Someone quipped what do you call a vent with the first 3... a great puppeteer.

An example of the later was Wayland Flowers. His Crazy Mary, Madam and other "Puppets" came alive. While I worked out of Reno, I was blessed to see his, Jay Johnson and other vents/puppeteers during the 70's and early 80's.

Just my two lips worth.

Harris
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cardone
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What is the difference between ventriloquism and puppetry?
harris
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Off the top of my head,("Not much up there", said Nigel) Ventriloquism is a branch of puppetry. Of course some vents use their skills with and/or without a puppet.


Harris
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cardone
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Puppetry and Ventriloquism only came together officially around the mid 1700s. In my show I have 2 routines that feature ventriloquism and no puppet or dummy.... if my mouth moved even a little bit ... the illusion would be lost. the magic and mystery of ventriloquism would die. A great funny routine would not cut it. Imagine performing a split fan act with a mirror behind you...Ventriloquism has been around thousands of years and bad lip control has been around only for about 100 years...What's the difference between puppetry and ventriloquism ? The difference ...In Vent we have ...character splitting ,breathing and vocal tech,acting for the ventriloquist's part along with puppetry,and..... perfect lip control..... any thoughts....
harris
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Although my lip control is very good, I would not say it is perfect.

The old joke about Bergen by "Charlie".

Bergen tried to get his lips insured by Lloyds of London.

What happened Charlie.

They wouldn't insure a moving target.

Hopefully new and upcoming vents will be more true to their art.

This nearly normal guy remembers an early audition.

They said, "Kid your lips didn't move a bit...unfortuneately we couldn't understand a word your puppet said."

Since then my puppets have helped me pay the mortgage and other things.

Actually I do a bit with a puppet without vent to set up the transition to Ventriloquism.

Next month I will share at a Conference for Churches on the use of Puppets including Vent. Other things covered will be spring animals and marionettes.

We are blessed with the Puppetry Arts Institute in our area. (Independence, Missouri....

http://www.hazelle.org

Saturday we have a puppeteer from St. Louis with a show about making puppets from house hold items...


But I digressssssssssssssssss


sort of like my show...we start with a foundation and Nigel and the other nearly normal puppets sometimes take it in unknown directions...

Harris
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