Our resident pro, Bob Abdou has come up with a great topic, “Bombing”.
I’ve done a few shows and I bombed a couple of times. It’s still bothering me. How do you get over bombing? -vent from Georgia.
Great question, and if you know me, bombing is my favorite subject!
Now when I talk about bombing, I am not talking about having the sound system shut off in the middle of a show or a puppet leg falling off or even the emcee not reading your introduction correctly (although those things can throw off a show.) To me, bombing is when the audience says “you suck” and the show is at a day care! Bombing is when the show is so bad, children in wheelchairs get up and walk out! (I’m here all week, folks.)
It might help to know that even the greatest of performers have bombed. If a pro says that they never bombed, maybe it’s because they’ve blocked it out of their minds or maybe they’re lying. A performer has to make mistakes to become better. Performing is like driving. The directions are wrong and you get lost. It can be frustrating, but you might drive up one street you never knew existed or turn the corner and see a store you never realized was there, so now you know a new street and a new business. Once you get back on track you are on your way to your destination. Show business is like that, you mistake here, a flub there, you get lost for a while, but you learn something in the process.
It also might help to know that bombing is sometimes in your control, and then sometimes bombing is in the audience’s hands. They can suck too. Having a good audience is a group effort. Most audiences are a room full of strangers with no relationship to one another. Part of a performer’s job is to lasso the audience into one big happy family. But sometimes the audience won’t be supportive. Sometimes they don’t pay attention, or they’re not in the mood to laugh, or one of the audience members thinks they can perform better and starts to heckle you (or more cranky in the case of kids) and it can ruin the show. Sometimes it’s beyond the performer’s control. But if the show starts out bad, as an entertainer, you have to have an iron stomach and keep on going. A performer that’s nervous, sweating or unsure can push the audience to become an unfocused, loud and angry mob.
Sometimes the show starts out lame but ends better, when that happens the audience leaves happy. That is still a good show. Ending on a high note can make the audience forget a bad beginning. However, if a show is so bad that ending quickly is the only way out, by all means, take your lumps and get off stage. The audience will thank you for it and so will your therapist.
I confess, since my first performance in 1993 I have bombed. To this day, some of them still haunt me. But the more shows I did the frequency of the bombs seemed to get less and less and better shows came more frequently. As I look back, I feel like that’s something I can be proud of. I think that the more frequently you perform, the less you bomb. The more you know your material, the more you know your puppet’s personalities the less you’ll bomb. Also, the more you know where the end of the stage beings the less you’ll bomb –-that first step can be a doozie! (Tip your waitresses, folks.) The more good shows you get under your belt, the more they will outweigh those bad experiences.
So how do you get over bombing? Sometimes you don’t. But you learn from it, get back on stage and try again. Your stage presence will show that you can handle shows that are not so desirable situations, you learned and keep learning to deal with things that can derail a good show.
Just remember, never let them see you sweat.
Thanks Bob as always.
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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What else is there to say about “Bombing”..Nothing ! Bob Abdou has said it all. Being a long time pro, he has experienced all types of audiences for the many variable types of shows he’s performed. As usual, Bob is right again ,with great advice !