Check Please – By Bob Abdou/Mr. Puppet

bob abdou how much to charge
Bob Abdou/Mr.Puppet

Once again, Bob Abdou/Mr. Puppet has sent us this great little article for ventriloquists. Bob has a wealth of knowledge in this arena since he’s a full time working ventriloquist. He has some great advice for all of you.

Check Please

The Ventriloquist convention in Ft. Mitchell is soon upon us with many workshops. One of the annual lectures is a question/answer round table discussion with working professionals. Every year there seems to be a newbie asking the same question: “How much should I charge for a show?”.

In all my 18 years going to the convention I never heard a secure answer because of the broad scope of professionals on the discussion panel. Could a ventriloquist in New York City charge the same as a ventriloquist living in Jackson Mississippi? Can a cruise ship performing ventriloquist give an answer to a newbie starting out performing birthday parties? There always seemed to be too many variables and different levels to actually answer the question “How much should I charge?” …until now. In this blog story I would like to assist those performers who want to go to the next level and charge for their services.

To assist you in knowing what to charge, let me give some examples to help base your costs on your shows. I buy toys on eBay and there have been some rare toys that are on eBay that I must have for my collection. I know the value and try to go over a bit more so I am not outbid. I bid $800 dollars on a valuable toy that I know is worth $700 dollars but at the end of the auction the bid went well over $4000 dollars. Now that is outrageous and kudos’ to the buyer but overall the toy is only worth $700 dollars and I know one day I will get this toy at the right price. The example here is: don’t charge more than you are worth.

Another example: There was another rare toy on eBay that I needed for my collection. The auction had a ‘buy it now’ button for $50 dollars. I have seen this toy go as much as $400 dollars and is very rare, so when I saw it at such a low price I bought it immediately, my heart was beating really fast because I could not believe that someone would sell this rare toy for such a great low price, I was very happy. The example here is: Be worth more than you charge,

Question for you: Besides putting on a great show, looking professional, arriving on time, making the audience laugh, making the client happy, do you know what your real goal is at every show? Your goal after every show is be so good that folks in the audience will hire you again and again and again, repeat business is essential to every performer. Did it ever occur to you why so many performers are always booked with shows? The answer is because they are booking shows after each show!

Different sections of the world have different lifestyles when it comes to performing and how much they are willing to pay.

The economy and demand also play a factor in who gets hired. So here is what I say to those asking about how much to charge for a show. This is my opinion because of what I have experienced personally. If I have to ask how much I should charge, I am not ready to charge at all. The client is the one that makes that call. If you find yourself doing free shows and leaving with a tip each time, that is your clue that you need to start asking for money. If you are performing free show after free show and leaving with no tip or not even a ‘thank you’ from the client, then you are not ready to charge for shows. We all must pay our dues in performing and keep on progressing. Eventually you might not be making Jeff Dunham money now but with each buck you make, you are on the road to becoming a full time working ventriloquist that is creating a reputation as someone that folks want to hire and pay for.

Best to you all.

by Bob Abdou/Mr.Puppet

Thanks Bob, for sharing this great insightful information.



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:

Copyright 2011 by Dan Willinger

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3 Responses to Check Please – By Bob Abdou/Mr. Puppet

  1. David Thrasher says:

    I would think that, no matter who you are, you would at least want to make enough money to pay expenses – the gasoline to get to and from your gig, some percentage of what it cost you to buy your figure, any food you may have to buy for yourself, and lodging (if you have to travel far away from home). Beyond that, how much is your time worth? Even if you are just starting off your time must be worth at least something. It certainly shouldn’t be less than the person behind the counter at your local fast food restaurant. You should at least go a little bit above minimum wage if, for no other reason, having a sense of pride in your profession. After all, you can do something the hypothetical fast food worker can’t do which is ventriloquism even if you may not be the total polished professional yet. So at least pay your expenses and try to get what your local market will bear taking into account your current skill level and quality of show.

  2. Karen Lloyd says:

    Thank you, Mr. Puppet, for your good common sense advice. I am just starting out, which is a little wierd because I am almost 60! However, there is nothing more fun to me than puppets and puppeteering. I am still learning ventriolquism, but I think it’s a gas. Susie doesn’t speak very quickly yet, but she is pretty clear. I’m a little reluctant to go out there and do it, because I don’t really have a routine figured out. I’m not really a commedien, I’m more of a playful person as opposed to a witty person, so I haven’t really figured out exactly what to do with my puppets yet. I know I would like to do children’s parties as I’ve taught arts and crafts to younger kids before and enjoyed that too. Anyway, whatever it ends up being, I know it will be lots of FUN!
    Thanks again for your comments on what to charge. It makes a lot of sense to me.

  3. bob abdou says:

    Hey Karen, it sounds like you are already a smart cookie, fun is the main ingredient with any true performer. Not knowing your niche yet is all in the learning curve. The more fun you keep having believe it or not, in just a short time you will find yourself having a polished funny act. There is nothing wrong with doing free show to learn the ropes, I still do them for certain audiences because that is my ministry and it is fun for me and this is 21 years of performing and I am STILL learning. You sound like a success story ready to be known to all of us, best to ya’!!

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