Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The 2018 Vent Haven ConVENTion - from my perspective

I wanted to take a few minutes here and give you a little review of the
Vent Haven International Ventriloquist ConVENTion I was at last week -
from my perspective.

For those of you who don't know, the convention takes place every year near Cincinnati, OH - mainly because the location is just a few minutes away from the only museum in the world dedicated to the art of ventriloquism -
The Vent Haven Museum, in Ft. Mitchell, KY

This year was the 42nd annual get together. I went to my first convention in 1981.

Once again, Executive Director Mark Wade and his team knocked it out of the
park. Just a fantastic lineup of workshops and shows again this year.

The event was at a new location this year - The Cincinnati Airport Holiday Inn.
A very nice hotel and they seemed to have no problem handling the over
500 who registered.

The theme this year was "The Power of Funny."

I was saddened by the loss of two of the greats in our art, Bob Isaacson and
Jerry Layne over the past few months, but I'm sure they were looking down
on all of us.

I also missed my good friends Jimmy Nelson, Sammy King and Al Stevens,
who were not able to attend this year. And I know I'm missing others who
couldn't make it.

Since there are so many people there and so much to do, I didn't have the
chance to go to all of the workshops. Plus, I've been attending for so many years,
sometimes I just like to hang out in the huge lobby and find some other vent
friends to sit and talk to. I did that a lot this year.

Just a few of the highlights included (remember, I wasn't able to get to everything
on the schedule, although I would have liked to - sorry if I miss mentioning some
of you. I know you all did a terrific job ):

-The BIG WEDNESDAY NIGHT SHOW with Neale Bacon from Canada, Lisa Laird
and Al Moessinger. They all had funny acts and were well received by the
audience,

-Bob Rumba's workshop on how to set up publicity shots was a lot of fun.
Bob's lectures always border on crazy. He's one of the funniest guys I know.

-The Junior and Senior open mic sessions. There are some really talented folks
who sign up for this each year - especially the kids. It's great to see the stars of t
omorrow performing and then getting critiqued by a panel of professionals.

-The SUPER THURSDAY NIGHT SHOW with David Crone, Dan Sachoff, Trish Dunn
and Rey Ortega. Another fantastic show!

-Shane West's "Creating Character Voices" was very good and had a ton of useful
content and ideas.

- I especially enjoyed Austin Phillips and Tyler Ellis' "Fully loaded - Hard Figure
Care and Repair" workshop. It was cool to see the inner workings of some classic
figures. These two are really becoming the best as the new generation of hard
figure makers.

- Jeff Glotz and Jake LaMarca's "Comedy Club Experiences" was fun and the
Friday night International show is always a highlight.

-The annual raffle was a blast, as usual. For some reason, Mark Wade and
Jeff Dunham were "on" to a level I'd never seen before with their back and forth
jabs at each other as the raffle prizes were being awarded. Of course, I didn't win
any raffle prizes, but was honored and humbled to receive the
WS Berger Distinguished Service Award this year.
And congrats to David Crone and Daniel Robison - the other recipients this year.

- What can I say. The SATURDAY NIGHT ALL STAR SHOW was one of the best
I've ever seen. Keith Haddrill, Phil Hughes and Darren Carr literally had the whole
room on the floor with non-stop laughter. My eyes were watering.

And don't forget the free tours to the Vent Haven Museum, the two packed
dealers rooms and just the opportunity to hang out with like minded performers
from all parts of the world.

There was also an update on the progress of the new, state of the art museum
which will be completed in the near future.

If you've never been to the convention, you simply MUST attend.
If you go once, you WILL return again.

Here are a couple of links you should check out:

The Vent Haven Convention website

The Vent Haven Museum website 
(also please consider making a donation to the new museum capital fund
campaign-thank you!)

The four days always go by so fast and I'm already counting down the days
until next years convention.

Vent on,

Lee
https://ventriloquistacademy.com

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Ventriloquist Academy Launches








I'm thrilled to announce that my new website, The Ventriloquist Academy, launched this past Monday, July 23rd.

So far, subscriptions have been brisk. It's good to see even more people wanting to learn how to become a ventriloquist. My goal over the past 21 years has always been to try and help keep the art of vent alive and growing - by offering the best quality educational and entertaining materials I can to the ventriloquist community.

The Ventriloquism 101 website, which launched in 1997 with just my single VHS video - then added a DVD edition and other videos, CD's and books - has seen a drop in buyers in recent years. And I think that has to do with folks not wanting to purchase physical DVD's, CD's and books anymore.

Today, people want access to content immediately and they want to be able to access that content on computers, laptops, iPads and mobile devices.

That's why I started The Ventriloquist Academy. To get into the streaming and digital age.

Ventriloquism is growing again as an art form. With the likes of Jeff Dunham, Daric Lynne Farmer,Terry Fator and others helping lead the charge. And it's showing no signs of slowing down any time soon!

We had good numbers again this year at the Vent Haven ConVENTion, with near 100 first time attendees.

And with a new museum on the horizon, the future (and past) of ventriloquism looks strong. Check out what's going on at the museum here:

https://www.venthaven.org/

If you missed the information page for the Ventriloquist Academy, you can see it here:

https://ventriloquistacademy.com

Keep venting,

Lee


Thursday, July 05, 2018

Ventriloquist Academy will be Launching Very Soon!!







Wow. I am really getting excited. After being online selling my Ventriloquism 101 video course for over 20 years, I am just a week or two away from launching the Ventriloquist Academy website. This will be a membership site where folks will be able to pay a very reasonable fee and get private access to my video course and TONS of other materials to help them become a great ventriloquist. Look for more information and the official launch date over the next few days! You won't want to miss getting in on this at the very beginning with a really special introductory price!

Monday, May 07, 2018

New! 21 years in the making! Ventriloquist Academy Online School


Ventriloquism101.com launched in 1997. Finally, 21 years later, I'm creating a new website - Ventriloquist Academy. It will contain not only my all time best selling instructional course - Ventriloqism 101 - as an online digital product, but so much more content it will blow your mind.

Materials not only featuring MY teachings, but also instruction from many other great vents from the past and present.

I'll go out on a limb here and say Ventriloquist Academy will be the most in-depth instructional course on ALL areas of ventriloquism, technique, comedy, business and performing ever assembled in one place.

I'll post more as the release date gets closer. Right now I'm targeting June for the launch.

More soon!

Lee

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Why You Should Attend the 2018 Vent Haven ConVENTion

So today is January 13th. The annual Vent Haven ConVENTion is seven months away. Why am I writing about it now? And more importantly, why should you attend?

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THE BROCHURE

















Let me tell you a little story.

I went to my first convention in 1981 and had been a ventriloquist since I was a nine year old kid. I was now 24. I was aware of the names of all of the "stars" of the day who would be there. Names you probably wouldn't recognize today - Johnny Main, Bill Boley, Bill DeMar, Warren Chaney, Garland Boyd, Jimmy Nelson, a young Mark Wade and an even younger Jeff Dunham. Jimmy Nelson was my childhood idol and I also knew Dunham would be a superstar someday.

I'm guessing there may have been 200 or so attendees that year. Being 24 years old, I wanted to attend the convention to learn how to take my show to the next level and socialize with other vents and perhaps have a chance to chat with the big guns. But a funny thing happened. Seeing all of the ventriloquists there, the news media, the stars, etc., I began to feel a bit anxious, intimidated and nervous.

For the three days of the convention, I barely talked to anyone. I briefly spoke to Jeff, may have said hello to Jimmy, but for some reason, stayed mostly in the shadows. I did attend the workshops, but didn't ask questions, even though I had many.

I knew at the end of the convention that I should have interacted more to have gotten the most out of it. I took away some great ideas from the lectures that I used to help my shows. But I knew at the time, that to really get involved with the vent community and grow, I needed to attend more than a single convention.

1981 Vent Haven ConVENTion-click to enlarge

Ventriloquists on TV sort of went the way of the dodo in the 1980's, although I still performed some with vent and magic. But I was also a lead singer and guitar player in a rock band, so I focused most of my energy on playing live music and not with puppets. The years went by, I went back to college, got married, had two great kids and even though I still kept ventriloquism on my radar by following the careers of Jeff and the few others like Jay Johnson and Ronn Lucas, as well as being a member of a vent club, performing as a ventriloquist was on the back burner.

Then in 1997 the bug bit me again. Hard. I had just gotten my first personal computer a year earlier and was just getting the hang of this new thing called the internet. I decided to create an instructional video on how to be a ventriloquist and began selling it online. I began performing again. And the biggest thing I did in 2001 was attend the Vent Haven ConVENTion again. Only this time, I knew how I was going to approach attending. I had a dealers room table. I went to all of the lectures and took detailed notes, I went out of my way to meet my idols and other attendees. I wanted to squeeze and soak up as much as possible to make me a better performer.

I came away from that convention recharged and I couldn't wait to get back to performing and expanding my ventriloquism101.com website, adding dozens of resources for other vents.

I also realized I needed to keep going back to the convention  to keep me fired up. To share ideas with other like minded people. An energy that I couldn't sustain being about the only vent in my home town. And I've been  back to the convention every year since my return in 2001. In 2017 I was thrilled to be asked to perform on the Wednesday night show.


That's why you need to go. Either as a first timer, or as a returning attendee. Being around other vents (now over 400 a year), learning from the pros, taking in the shows, the dealers rooms, talking over ideas with other performers and expanding your knowledge and technique to become a better ventriloquist. I learn something every year when I go back. It's like a family reunion. There's nothing like it. Period.


The reason I'm telling you this story in January is to nudge you into registering NOW! (Simply click on the picture of the brochure at the top of this post). While you're thinking about it. Make the commitment. Register and then spend the next few months saving up the money you'll need to go. Don't wait until July and then just let the week pass you by. If you are a performer, look ahead on your calendar and block these four days out from your performance schedule. The value of making you a better vent far outweighs missing doing a show.

If it's your first time attending, I'll look forward to meeting you. If you are a returning vent, I'll see you there!

Lee

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Vent Haven 2017 Performance

A dream came true for me at the Vent Haven ConVENTion in July of 2017. I was asked to perform on the Wednesday night show, along with Lori Bruner and Pete Michaels.

My first convention was in 1981. I was so in awe of seeing many of my vent heroes that first year.

Fast forward to 2017 and I have become friends with many of the pros in the business I've admired for years, as well as many of the attendees.

I wanted to do an act unlike one anyone had seen before at Vent Haven. The premise was to have four mini-acts to the routine which ultimately were to go wrong.

I got into an argument with a microphone stand, had my Sammy King tribute go down the toilet when Francisco the Mexican Parrot refused to do the bit, got tackled by retired NYPD police officer Vinnie Ewart when he mistakenly thought I was ripping off Jeff Dunham's Achmed routine and closed the show with an appearance by the King (with audience member David Turner).

I think the audience had fun and I had a blast playing the part of a performer who's act has gone off the rails. 

Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to be part of another show there in the future. I'll never forget that night. Can't wait until next years convention!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Look, Ma! I'm on the Cover!

Just a quick post. I was pleased and a bit surprised to see I had been chosen as the cover story in the July issue of the community magazine for my hometown of Greenwood, IN (it's a suburb of Indianapolis). I knew the story was going to be published, but I didn't know about the cover spot until the day it was delivered.

Pretty cool! I also found out the story will be running in the August edition of another community nearby, Center Grove, IN.

I think the total household delivery between the two is around 33,000