Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Lesson in Performing

I just returned from a week long cruise to the Caribbean with my wife late last night.

Last week was our 15th wedding anniversary, so I thought taking her on a vacation away from the day to day home routine would be a great gift. We left the kids at grandma's and we had a wonderful time. Perfect weather all week.

I also realize that people from all around the world who were on the cruise know the hilarious and always uproarious laughter producing line I hear at least once a week, "How's the weather up there?" (Please. Stop. My side. The pain).

The cruise ship has a large theater and there is some sort of stage show every evening. Friday night was the final show of the week and the closing act was a comedy magician by the name of Chad Chesmark.

Chad Chesmark

It was the first time I'd ever seen his show. And, I'd never heard of him before this past week.

OK, why am I writing about a magician in a ventriloquism blog?

To make a point. Good comedy entertainment DONE RIGHT in any field (ventriloquism, magic, standup, whatever) is critical to being a performer that is in demand.

Let me mention right up front the most important feature of Chad's show.


It was obvious that Chad has worked very long and hard at learning how to be funny first.

His tricks were good. But he did not do any super fancy sleight of hand tricks or amazing stage illusions. He did some tricks that I know how to perform. But, Chad WAS ORIGINAL with the presentation of his tricks. And, HE WAS FUNNY.

He looked, dressed and acted like a pro from the minute he walked out onto the stage. He had the audience laughing 10 seconds into the show.

He looked at the audience and moved around with a lot of energy and exuded a lot of personality from the stage. He did not stare down at his shoes and speak in a timid voice.

He smiled a lot and looked as if he was having a great time - even though I'm sure he does this same show night after night.

HE WAS FUNNY. HE WAS ORIGINAL, even without elaborate tricks.

As he was going from one trick to the next, he had very FUNNY, conversational patter that made the tricks seamlessly flow one into the other.

He just didn't do one trick, say thanks, do another trick, say thanks, do another so many "performers" do.

He had a logical connection using humor and being FUNNY going from trick to trick.

His act was very well rehearsed and fine tuned so that all of his routine was very strong.

I love good comedy, whether it be magic, ventriloquism, whatever. However, I more often than not see shows where the performer has not perfected (nor tried to perfect) the things that Chad has worked on and does so well.

During Chad's show I was laughing out loud, which I rarely do unless the comedy and performance are really top notch.

Are you funny, original and present yourself on stage as a comfortable, professional performer? How often do you practice? Be honest if you really want to get better.

Or, are you like the majority that practices very little and just strings a bunch of unrelated jokes together?

I'm sure Chad received a lot of compliments after the show from the audience (myself included), and he will be asked back to perform again by Royal Caribbean.

Will you be asked back to perform again for the group you next perform for? Or will folks politely say "nice job" and walk away as you think to yourself "Man, I killed tonight."

Think about it.