Here we go with some more great advice from ventriloquist Bob Abdou.
I finally got my first paying gig for a retirement home and now I’m really nervous, help me!
Matt T. from Georgia
First, congrats on the gig and double congrats on getting paid!
If you were not feeling nervous, I would think that something was wrong. Being nervous is normal and will actually make you step up your game and be the pro you want to be. Many a new pro have gone into their first show with a cocky attitude thinking that nothing could go wrong only to bomb. That being said, being too rehearsed can be a down fall. Worrying about getting each line right and doing everything perfect can make a performer look too mechanical. The audience will pick up on that and can easily lose interest.
With all my years of performing, I can recall one show where I was REALLY nervous. I was hired to perform on the all star show for the World Clown Association in Denver, Colorado. I invited my mentor Clinton Detweiler to the show with other Denver ventriloquists. Knowing Clinton was in the audience I wanted my show to be picture perfect and against my own advice, I rehearsed too much. I ended up being choppy on stage and I actually forgot to do a whole routine. I couldn’t believe it. I tried so hard to prove my professionalism, but what I needed to do was to relax on stage and do what I do best. The show was still a success and Clinton was pleased, that was my seal of approval.
The old suggestion is to think of your audience with no clothes on. That advice never helped me because that actually made me nauseas. Let’s face it, there are some folks you don’t want to see nude! What I do to relax and calm my nerves is to know my routines, know my puppets’ personalities, and know that all will be fine. I try to act like I’m doing the show again in my living room, enjoy myself and do the best show I can.
Before you walk on stage, take a deep breath. That will allow oxygen to enter your brain, it will relax your body and it will make you look and feel relaxed. If you look relaxed and like you’re having a good time, the audience will catch that spirit and have a good time too. If you say a line wrong, roll with it. You will usually be the only one who knows that a line is flubbed. If you mess up so much that the audience can tell, have a couple of funny lines just in case and get right back on track (I have my dummy tell me “You’re fired”.)
Performing for friends and family in the living room is a lot different than performing for an audience of strangers. But remember this, the audience is there to have a good time, they want to laugh and they want to see you as the winner you are. Audiences are usually more forgiving of flubbed lines or general mishaps if they see that you’re doing your best. Unless you have a drunk unruly audience, most folks watching a show will be very understanding. And retirement home residents are usually at the most kindest side of the audience spectrum.
You’ll do fine. Welcome to the world of professional entertainment and always remember to SMILE!
Dan Willinger is a ventriloquism enthusiast and ventriloquist figure collector. He has been collecting for over 25 years. He created the Ventriloquist Central Collection. It now has over 100 ventriloquist figures and over 50 of them are Frank Marshall figures. Because of his love for the art of ventriloquism, Mr. Willinger created the website Ventriloquist Central. For more information about the website, go to: http://www.ventriloquistcentral.com
Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger
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