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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » I'm a real boy! » » Ventriloquist or comedian? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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I bill myself in different ways for different markets. For nursing homes or retirement communities, 'ventriloquist' is gold. In a magician or comedian heavy market it can get you gigs because a booker is looking for variety on the bill.

Lately, for the library market, I have described myself as a children's comedian. I do this not because there's any particular dislike of ventriloquists or magicians in that market, there's not. But if you have signed up for a showcase or conference and there are only a small number of spots available for performers or doing a 'breakout' session, being different can help get the attention of the organizers and get you a spot. And, with an intriguing description in the program, you can attract more people to your session. I started describing myself this way because it was honest and clear, an accurate description of what I do actually, but I'm also finding that the different 'branding' has some noticeable advantages.

Here's the description of my breakout session from a recent library conference:

The Evil Dr. Sketchy Stole My Library Card!

The Astonishing Mr. Pitts

A presentation of "The Evil Dr. Sketchy Stole My Library Card" by children's comedian David Pitts, aka The
Astonishing Mr. Pitts. The presentation includes music, magic, puppets and ventriloquism. The show emphasizes
the 'laugh while you learn' philosophy of children's entertainment and the focus is on the fun and power of reading!
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
kidshowvent
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410 Posts

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Being a Kidshow vent I have always billed myself as a ventriloquist..and was proud to differentiate myself from magicians, clowns etc. as there seems to be an over abundance of them. I think it's safe to use the word "ventriloquist" now with the popularity of many of our modern day vents. However, I only use soft puppets (although I like vent figures) in my shows...and I use them exclusively in my photos

Mark
kidshowvent@gmail.com
danfreed
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West Chester PA
1162 Posts

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Hi Mark, hows it going? (or should I say Nark with my tongue in a different position, get sort of a nasal humm and think M?)
I was thinking of doing an additional profile in Gigmasters under ventriloquism at some point, so I contacted them for stats on searches for vents and other categories I fit into. For the last 180 days in the 3 cities I checked on, there were 0 searches for vents. Of course that's Oregon for you, not the most populated state, etc. But for for magicians for example there were about 51 searches in each of the cities. So the question is, how do you interpret that info? I don't just market through Gigmasters of course, I just use that stat as an example. I'll check out stats on Google searches also. Do you guys know any vents in Oregon?
When they want entertainment for family/kids events, how often are people looking for vents, or are they more likely just open to the idea once they run into your info? It's been 9 years since I was an agent, so my memory is rusty on that topic, but I don't remember too many people asking for vents, but when I brought up the idea they were usually hip to it. So if that's the case, and I don't know that it is, (aside from repeat and referrals), how does that affect marketing? Again, if your act is good, then they'll want you and recommend you, but I'm referring to getting clients that don't know you.
Mr. Pitts, I like your approach of calling yourself a children's comedian, I was thinking of doing that also, cause that's essentially what I am anyway and it helps to differentiate yourself, as you said.
tacrowl
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Maryland
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Dan -
I'll jump in here on the marketing topic if you don't mind. I'd have to agree few people think ventriloquist when looking for entertainment. Most of my internet clients now find me through search terms that describe their event more than a specific "genre" of entertainment. Once they discover the choice it has a much more favorable appeal than years ago.

As for how that affects marketing - I still, even in this day and age, find mailers and phone calls are the strongest tools to get individual dates. (They of course go hand in hand with a solid web site and on-line promotional material/video.) I also market to agents and event producers. When you build a solid relationship with them, you can create a steady stream of work that would be much harder to obtain otherwise.
Tom
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

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danfreed
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West Chester PA
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Hi Tom,
I wasn't just asking Mark, so I appreciate your help. I'm doing your online course now - it's the best instructional material I've seen so far. Tom, do you just do gigs for adults? I'm not planning on doing gigs for adults anytime soon, but I was curious about what the availability for adult vent gigs is compared to kid shows? In my case, I can't really travel out of state because of family stuff, and I guess the club scene and corporate gigs require a lot of travel to get enough good gigs. I know Mark Wade gets a lot of work because when I was an agent in Ohio I kept trying to book him and he usually wasn't available, etc. Really good family entertainers can do very well if they market themselves well, but I'm just trying to understand marketing for vents in specific.
tacrowl
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Maryland
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I focus on adult corporate events, but still do the occasional school assembly, fair/festival and family show. Don't work the clubs.

Adults events are actually as plentiful as children's and family events if you dig into the market. Look at major venues - the Hyatts, Hiltons, etc. and you will find that they host dinners, conferences and conventions constantly. Each of these is an opportunity for a quality corporate act that can tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs of the client. With corporate, there are different levels - low (under $5,000) - medium ($5,000 - $20,000) and high ($25,000 - up). Quantity of work isn't always needed - making it easier to deal with the travel. (Cruise ships, fairs and club dates are great when you are younger - but they require being on the road and I prefer to be at home as often as possible.)

Additionally you've got civic clubs and service organizations, associations, and there are others too numerous to list. Almost all of these have some sort of meeting, dinner or events where they can use entertainment. Selling them ventriloquism is easy because there are so few good vents out there. We offer something most people haven't seen live and it is different from magic, juggling and hypnosis - which is easily available. The fact that we are rare - also allows us to earn a premium for our services in the adult market.

The funny thing is, I don't really look at it as marketing vent. I offer to work with potential clients to help them find a solution for their event planning. I'm not always the right solution and often help them find another act that is suited to their needs. (I'm not an agent - I don't take commissions - but the acts I recommend often recommend me in return.) The services I provide them before, during and after the show is what I market.

BTW - Thanks for the kind words on my course. Glad you are enjoying it.
Tom Crowl - Comedy Ventriloquist

ComedyVentriloquist.com

Learn-Ventriloquism.com

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kidshowvent
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Hi Dan,

Great to hear from you! I personally don't think it is a bad idea to list yourself as a vent on gigmasters, it's at least a starting point on raising awareness that vents are available. The more you get your name out there the better. The news media likes to print articles about vent being the "lost or forgotten" art..that it's dying or dead, but they are having a much harder time with this with the popularity of Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator and many others. I don't think the did it with malice, they just went by what others told them without doing the research to see it has always been around. It just wasn't as visible, so the pronounced vent as "dead". It's our job as vents to make as much noise as we can..to keep vent in the fore front. Comedian, ventriloquist, whatever..I think it was just the fact that agents didn't push vents because it was easier to sell a comedian due to our (vent) presumed "dead" status. IF we all make it known that vent is alive, and make it easier to sell, we'll have more work.

While I am on my soapbox, we as vents need to update our own performing status by breaking away from the mold that could be holding us back. We need different type of characters, better material, and work harder to bring our art into the 21st. Century. While I love cute boy characters as much as anybody, I'm afraid agents look at it as passe. But that's my opinion...

Mark

kidshowvent@gmail.com
kidshowvent
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Before anyone gets the wrong idea..I really like the " cute boy figure" that many use. However, I think there is a whole lot more that could be done with them to modernize the art. Different costuming, different routines..many other things can be done. We just need to bear down on this a bit more...in my humble opinion.

Mark
kidshowvent@gmail.com
Aussie
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Australia
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I concur with you Mark.

MJ is a purposeful character that I developed for a specific reason and Mark has more or less summed that up in his last two posts.
Australia's Most Original Ventriloquist

http://www.ladymaceentertainment.com
kidshowvent
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Thanks, Aussie!

Mark

kidshowvent@gmail.com
danfreed
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West Chester PA
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Thanks Mark and Tom for your marketing help.
Neale Bacon
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Burnaby BC Canada
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I get a lot of positive reaction because characters are not the usual cute boy figures. Having all animal characters has forced me to be more creative in my writing and even in costuming the puppets.

I am like Mark - while I like hard figures and admire those who work with them, I prefer soft figures for a number of reasons.

Tom was right in saying a lot of people don't seek out a vent. They are just looking for good entertainment. When they come across a vent, they will often go "Oh I hadn't thought of that."

I too bill myself proudly as a ventriloquist, but for search purposes in my meta tags I use a lot of other terms.
Neale Bacon and his Crazy Critters
Burnaby BC
Canada's Favourite Family Ventriloquist
www.baconandfriends.com
Aussie
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Australia
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Quote:
On 2013-10-08 17:55, Neale Bacon wrote:
... When they come across a vent, they will often go "Oh I hadn't thought of that..."


I can relate to that, it's exactly the reaction I get as well.
Australia's Most Original Ventriloquist

http://www.ladymaceentertainment.com
puppetgirl
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I tend to tell people that I am a "Corporate & College Entertainer" Then when they ask I give them my elevator pitch of how I combine comedy into my ventriloquist act.



The most frustrating thing I've run into when I label myself as a ventriloquist is occasionally people expect me to be exactly like Edgar Bergen.
First of all, they don't understand why I am female. (I once had someone call and ask me over the phone to speak to the ventriloquist and when I finally convinced them that they were actually speaking to the ventriloquist, they told me they couldn't hire a woman for the gig and asked if I could refer them to any guys that did ventriloquism.)
Secondly, they assume I have a little boy dummy and seem confused and disappointed that I have a female dummy.
I find it very odd. I don't assume all magicians are exactly like David Copperfield, but I'm guessing those same people do. Smile
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Hey puppetgirl, glad to see you here. I keep up with you some over on FB. I like the name, by the way, great domain name, easy for clients to remember and spell.

I'm guessing, given that you are in LA, that when someone has called you with a very narrow idea about what they were wanting... an Edgar Bergen sort of stereotypical vent, that maybe they were looking for a 'type' for a commercial shoot maybe. I think that there have been and continue to be prominent female ventriloquists... Shari Lewis of course, Nina Conti is certainly visible these days. So whoever talked to you with those expectations either knew very little or had something very specific in mind for a project. Just a guess. Vent is something of a 'boys club', but not as much as magic, in my estimation.

'elevator pitch'... sounds like you know a thing or two about the business. I only recently heard that phrase myself.
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
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