Bob sent us this email as a follow up to yesterday’s blog, “Check Please”.
After posting the blog to you, I immediately received a phone call from a newbie ventriloquist that asked me for some advise, (I am also the consultant for ventriloquism for the Puppeteers of America) and guess what his question was?
“How much should I charge for a show?”
I could not believe the timing to his question, so I gave him the exact answers that I wrote in the blog, I also asked him the following questions so I can get a better understanding of him.
1) Can you do a 7, 20 or 35 minute show?
2) Do you have a sound system?
3) Can you handle audience control?
4) Have you performed more than one show per month?
5) Do you have any peers or groups that you associate with?
6) Would you hire yourself based on your experience and qualifications?
His answer to all 6 questions was NO. I explained to him that he was not ready to charge for shows (this is my opinion, no matter the expense on travel, props, material, etc,etc, etc). This newbie ventriloquist was keen enough to know that I was right. So he asked me a follow up question: “How can I get prepared to start charging for shows?”
Good question, I explained to him that he has to change his NO answers to my questions to a YES and here is how!
1) No matter how many puppets you have, I suggest to take your best one and create a strong polished act with it. This puppet will now become your life partner, like Charlie McCarthy, Jerry Mahoney and Danny O’Day. Even if you only create a 7 minute act with it, make it as funny as possible. After a show, you want the audience to tell you that their favorite puppet was your life partner. Why? because it made them laugh the most and you created a lasting memory for them that will bring smiles just by mentioning their name.
2) Without a sound system, you are a mime. Do NOT count on the client to supply you with a sound system. If you don’t have a sound system, get one. This is all I have to say on this matter.
3) Are you prepared to perform for a group of 4 year old children? That is the average age at a summer library show. So before putting yourself in hell’s kitchen go perform free shows at daycares. There you will receive the experience needed to work with toddlers. If you can handle audience control with 4 year olds, you got it made in the shade and your future clients will be very happy and amazed.
4) If you are not performing for an audience at least 4 times a month, you are not getting any experience you need. Go find open mics in your area. Offer free shows at senior centers and forget about the health condition of patients at a nursing home, just start performing more and more. Look in the papers and find work that will suit your type of entertainment. Now is the time to gain experience not tomorrow or next month.
5) Associate!! Go mingle with a clown alley or a magic ring club in your area. There are tons of other performers that want to associate with you. Find them because associating with other performers will give you social skills needed that you will not get staying inside your home.
6) We all want to perform but if we prematurely charge for a show when we are not ready it’s like eating uncooked food.
Let me give you an example: When I was single I cooked my first spaghetti dinner. I boiled the water, put the spaghetti in the pot, drained out the water, poured sauce on it and ate it. When I took my first bite it was crunchy, why was my spaghetti crunchy? I did not boil it enough so it was not ready to eat, little did I know that.
Charging for shows seems now to be an important subject. Just remember experience now money later.
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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