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daffydoug
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In watching the greats, I just want to ferret out what is their secret of greatness. There is SOMETHING that they offer that just has a great, almost universal appeal. When they get up to perform, it's easy to love them. Technique? Character? Original figures or puppets that nobody else has a claim to? Chemistry between them and their figure? Or a combination of all of these?

What do you think?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Dickens & Dave
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I think a combination, techniques, character, material, and instead of "chemistry", I'd say an easy rapport with their figure.
An original figure, I think only enters into it if it helps the person to accomplish all of those, but I don't think it's a requirement otherwise.
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"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
daffydoug
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I'm jealous of Ronn Lucas!

But seriously, where does he get those great original EXCEPTIONAL figures? Tillie, Scorch? The kid with the cowboy hat? If you have a great idea and a DREAM for an original figure like that (And the dough) who do you approach and ask "Can you build this for me?"

Does it come down to connections? (Providing you don't have a workshop or the skills to make it yourself.)
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Bob Baker
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There are several figure makers who accept commissions. Axtell, Robert MacRay, Selberg, Mary Ann Taylor, Ray Guyll to name a few. I've developed a great relationship with Bill Nelson and Dan Lavender. Bill's sculpture and painting are original and incredibly artistic. Dan's mechanics are flawless.

But as you can imagine, you pay for quality. That's true of any fine figure maker.

Bob
daffydoug
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Like I said. "Providing you have the dough" Money talks.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Dickens & Dave
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I got lucky with the one figure I had made specifically for me, the figuremaker was a friend and he did give me a break on the price, but it still wasn't cheap. But like I said, I don't think a custom figure is as necessary as the rest of it.

Quote:
On 2011-01-08 11:07, Bob Baker wrote:
Bill's sculpture and painting are original and incredibly artistic.

That's an understatement! I will never be able to get one of his figures, but I do admire his work.
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CaptKirk
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Originality of the material/script would be one thing I consider essential. I remember when I first saw Jeff Dunham's Achmed - I was literally "blown away" (no pun intended) by him and what he was saying/doing! Writing original comedy for vent routines is not all that easy but certainly not out of the grasp of most folks who have even the smallest amount of imagination. Taking something that is normal and twisting it around until it is funny can be done by almost anyone. Those who WORK at that are the ones who become great/stand out vents. I read that your audience WANTS you to succeed and be funny/likeable. I believe that is the case about 99% of the time (there are situations where a vent routine, no matter how funny it is most of the time, would not be accepted and/or even appreciated - i.e. a "blue material routine" performed in a church setting comes to mind). IMO.
manal
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They are entertaining/funny even without the dummies.
Look at Dunham, does ten minutes before he even brings out the dummies.
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Father Photius
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The secret is rapport with the audience. Those who make it as greats know how to engulf, entrap, and engage their audience into the illusion. The characters, routines, etc. are just the props. Remember, Edgar Bergen did it on radio when no one could even see the character. Why do story tellers like Garrison Kellior hold an audience spellbound and actually whisk them away to the mythical town of Lake Wobegone, and others telling a story are just narrators? It is in developing a rapport with the audience. Without an audience an entertainer is just another guy on the street.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
daffydoug
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You've pretty much hit it on the head! it is that magical, almost elusive ingredient called rapport that we need to develop even above our technical abilities.

I wonder if Fitzgee mentioned this in one of his books?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Steve at The Dummy Shoppe
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Part of Rapport is what I saw in 08 when Terry Fator came to Vent Haven. He did an incredible performance that lasted far longer than we would have imagined. When it was over, we went to our room and freshened up. Then we went to the coffee shop and had a very late dinner. As we came out of the coffee shop, Terry was just finishing signing autographs for other vents. It impressed me greatly that a man who had arrived at the height of his profession would spend over 3 hours signing books and pictures until the very last person in line had gotten what they came for. That kind of rapport can not be bought. That is the mark of true greatness and of a man who has not and probably will not forget where he came from and where he has gotten to. In my opinion, that is as important as having talent itself.

Steve
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tacrowl
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Excellent call Father P. I would have termed it showmanship, but it is creating a rapport with the audience. When on-stage, it is important to own the moment, to grab the audience and involve them with the performance. An act that can't do that is very hard to watch - no matter how technically good or funny their material. You need to be able to deliver. The only way to develop that is to get in front of audiences. Alot. Video tape your performances and watch them again and again - every aspect, just the puppet, just you, just lip control, the whole picture. Practice, improve and get in front of audiences again.

Quote:
daffydoug wrote:
elusive ingredient called rapport that we need to develop even above our technical abilities.


The REAL secret of greatness is being the total package. No one skill, showmanship or technical is above the other. To do that takes serious dedication and a lot of hard work. That's why so few achieve it.
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TonyB2009
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In every sphere the top performers are the ones who are very relaxed on stage - they seem to belong there. And they build up great rapport with the audience. Originally is nice, but is not the secret.
Dickens & Dave
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You can see some "greatness' in this Dunham video;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCcOq6tc1rA

Go to the 1:15 mark and watch - he has almost a whole minute of Walter doing nothing, and Jeff not saying anything, just reacting to Walter doing nothing and he had the people cracking up. If you can do that, you've got something.
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daffydoug
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You know I wonder. I really have to wonder how much of his script is memorized and how much is improved. I would bet that he knows those figures so well, (Especially Walter) and is so "inside their head" that he improvs a big chunk of it.

What do you think?
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Dickens & Dave
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I think it's some of both. He knows his characters well, but there's things like in that clip for example, he can't know that someone is going to get up to go to the bathroom then - but then again, it may have happened before and he came up with that bit then so he was prepared.
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"Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
daffydoug
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It's a mystery. Sure wish I could pick his brain!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
manal
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Quote:
On 2011-01-10 17:34, blueshawk1 wrote:
I think it's some of both. He knows his characters well, but there's things like in that clip for example, he can't know that someone is going to get up to go to the bathroom then - but then again, it may have happened before and he came up with that bit then so he was prepared.


Howie Mandel and many ,many other comedians have been doing that bit for maany years.
Life is too important to take seriously.

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kidshowvent
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I personally think Edgar Bergen said it best.."Success comes when opportunity meets preparedness". I don't think he was the first to say this, but it stuck with me when I was a beginner vent. I've always tried to be well prepared for whatever comes my way performing-wise. Success in this business is also having a great support system at home that encourages you and that you can confide in when you need it. Jody, my wife, is wonderful. She's always there cheering me on!

Mark
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TonyB2009
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Most guys improvise far less than you imagine. But they make it look as if they are doing far more. Its all about being relaxed on stage and appearing spontaneous. Its acting.
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