Here is more advice from ventriloquist Bob Abdou:
The past 4 months I have been given the privilege of sharing my knowledge, experience and opinions on many topics of entertainment for ventriloquists. I hope it has helped some people venture out in the real world and perform. Many thanks to Dan and Steve for allowing me this opportunity.
I tried to write as if I was writing to myself when I first started in show business. The advice that I gave was not available 21 years ago. If I knew then what I know now it would have saved me lots of anguish, energy and money.
This is my last advice blog story for awhile. Please feel free to contact me any time in 2012 with any questions or thoughts. I still care and want to assist in anyway I can.
I will end today’s blog with ‘advice in a nutshell’
Too short to suck.
I got this expression from Mike Horner a professional puppeteer in Kansas City. It means if you end your show early, even if it sucked, the audience will not remember how bad it was. If your show was any longer they might notice. Remember this saying when you’re trying out new material. “Too Short” can actually be a compliment.
Too stupid to stop
This is the opposite of “Too short to suck.” It also comes again from the puppet community. It takes maturity to know when to end an act. The audience is rolling their eyes, looking at their watch. The performer brings out another dummy and the room groans. The ventriloquist is oblivious to their surroundings. There is nothing more painful than watching a performer go way to long. We have all seen this happen at an open mic talent show. The buzzer goes off and the performer doesn’t realize that it’s time to stop. Don’t have anyone say this expression about you!
Don’t save a dollar to save a dime
I believe in Murphy’s law: What can go wrong, does go wrong. If you buy cheap off brand name batteries because they are a dollar less than a better brand, don’t be surprised if your sound system dies out during a show because you tried to save a buck.
If you are getting paid to perform, you can afford to buy the best for the buck. Don’t cut corners it will bite you in the tuckus.
Better late than never, but better never late
Unless there is an extreme emergency, there is NEVER an excuse to be late for a gig. If the client is expecting you at 4pm, arrive at 3:45. You will be more relaxed, you can scope out the layout of your show and the client will not have to worry about you. Nothing is worse than being labeled as the entertainer who is always late. This is not what you worked hard for, a successful ventriloquist is never late for a gig and always arrives early than expected.
Always have a joke in your pocket
It saddens me when I see anyone take a puppet out and do nothing with it. The look on their face is full of excitement and joy, the puppet looks great but there is no material. I am shocked when a performer can’t even say “Hello” with their puppet. When I see a person try and perform and they tell a joke right away, they have my attention, I am smiling and laughing along with the routine. Find a joke that fits your puppet and tell it as your greeting to anyone with a listening ear. Reuse it, no one will complain. Nothing says “Lame Ventriloquist” more than someone with a puppet and does nothing. So what must you do?..Make ‘em laugh!
Don’t poke the bear
This is also good advice for me too! The meaning here is – Leave well enough alone. If the setting for your show is fine but not perfect, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. It only complicates matters and the client will feel that you are derailing their authority.
Never steal a joke from a friend or the vent community
This topic has a never ending solution, that being said it is best to write your own material and do you own thing. If you hear a joke that is perfect for your show, work out the details from the person you heard from it. There are jokes that have no origin and can be used freely. However if you know a friend that’s using a joke, let them have it and get another joke from another source.
Be Original, Be Creative, Be YOU
Association is vital for growth
With technology today, a performer should never feel alone. There are many ways to connect with others with phone calls, e-mail, text, Skype, Facebook, and snail mail. Find a mentor that will assist you in growth. They will monitor your progress and you will become a better performer for it. I would not be where I am today without the friendships I have.
And last but not least…
Perform from the heart not the wallet
I have a confession to make, I perform for free or a love basket to those that can not afford my services. Sure I have bills to pay. I have a “reputation” as a professional and I want to feel important within the community. We all want to be known as making the big bucks. However money needs to be put aside when it comes to inner riches. Especially when performing for a senior facility or a homeless shelter that has little or no money for a show. I’ll take that show if it is in my area. Why? I get sad when I see seniors forgotten at nursing homes, they need to be feel that they are loved. Those suffering at a homeless shelter need compassion too, they need to laugh. I am not saying do all shows for free, my landlord will frown upon that. What I am saying here is, that giving should not be just during the holidays. Our talent is the gift that we have to offer. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Remember to keep performing and be the best Ventriloquist you can – it makes us all look good!
And as Charlie McCarthy once said to Edgar Bergen:
Happy New Hair!!
Bob Abdou/Mr. Puppet
Bob, thanks so much for providing the advice and insight that you have over the past few months. Feel free to contribute anytime.
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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Again….Bob has said it all. His years of experience of trying new material, new venues, etc. etc. have given him much wisdom in performing. Any new folks just starting out should have kept a copy of each of Bob’s advice columns here on the Ventriloquist Central website. Thanks for sharing with the “folks” Bob
Bob has offered very good advice to both the beginner and the pro. Bob is a very special person who is always willing to help others. He has said many times that if you look good, it makes him look good. Nothing hurts business more than a bad ventriloquist or magician, as it gives us all a bad name. Take Bob’s advice and try to be your very best, as this is a plus for all of us. Thanks Bob.
Very well written pieces, Bob Abdou, and thank you. I remember W.S. Berger talking about “…banter, patter, bits of business”. I think Clifford Guest told one joke in his show, which he did himself, not through the dummy. It was during the baby crying episode when he approached a lady to hold the baby, said “What’s your name?” She answered, “Marilyn”. He asked, “Can I call you Marilyn”. She answered “yes” and Guest came back with “Okay, I’ll call you after the show” or something like that http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-msUOO9YHY&list=PL1CBD8DD7CD677CDD&context=C3d68f75ADOEgsToPDskKHIDmzxH14ahbPNbThR30L
All the rest of his show was imitations, dummy sneezing twice onto Guest’s tuxedo, dummy running all over the stage to not get put back in the case, kicking his legs and closing of lid on one leg. The audience laughed and loved it so. Mr. Berger also used the Yiddish word “kibbitz” which means about the same thing, chitchat back and forth, between Guest and his dummy, then called Junior. I never liked jokes much, because hard to remember, but not so with bits of business which comes from imitations clowning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clown
I think the audience would have come back to see the same show again.
Hey, Bob. I know you enjoyed writing the articles as much as everyone enjoyed reading them. You can’t beat advice from a real working pro. But there’s still much more to be covered. Your work is very good… but it’s not yet finished. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I look forward to seeing them again. Best regards and thanks for your contributions.