Wednesday, March 28, 2012

One Question #4 - Stage Fright

I'm excited this week.

Sunday I'm taking my family on an 8 day cruise. My wife and I have been on a couple of them by ourselves. But the kids are now 12 and 16 and we think they'll have a great time...although it's school Spring Break week next week and I'm not sure what we're in for with a ship crowded with hundreds of kids on break with their parents.

I'll fill you in on the details when we return...if we survive.

This weeks "One Question" asked for advice on overcoming stage fright.

Everyone gets a little nervous before a show. Even people who have been performing for years. A few butterflies in your stomach is a good thing as it pumps you up and makes you sharp for the show. And, in nearly all cases, the nerves settle down once you are a few minutes into the performance.

But, if you're so nervous that you are freaking out before going on stage and sitting in a corner sucking your thumb and mumbling "mommy" over and over, that's not good.

Here are my three biggest tips to minimize or almost eliminate stage fright.

1). Know your routine inside and out. Nothing will give you more confidence on stage than knowing your script. And (I've mentioned this before) I mean by having it committed to memory. I've never been a big fan of having routines on cheat sheets somewhere on stage. I think that only acts as a crutch and makes is easy to get lost if you're relying on being able to find your place on a piece of paper hidden somewhere on stage.

When I have a script in my memory, it's very easy to stay on track with it, as each part of the routine flows into the next. If I get distracted for some reason, it's easy to get right back on track again.

2). Take the focus off of yourself. This is a huge tip and a big reason performers "go blank" on stage. If you are worrying and thinking about "will I remember my lines" or "what if I screw up" or "what if my jokes aren't funny" or "will the crowd like me" or "is that my wife sitting with my best friend out there?" you lose room in your brain for remembering your act.

No one cares about you and what you're thinking. All they care about is seeing a good show.

If you are prepared and put all of your energy into doing your best to entertain your audience (by putting them first), you'll have a lot less stage fright and memory lapses.

HAVE FUN as you perform. That's why your doing this, right? To entertain and have a good time.

3). Rehearse your act in the same way you plan on performing. This is another great secret few utilize. When you rehearse your show, don't just do it by running it through your head thinking you'll be able to pull off a great show once on stage. You won't.

You need to practice as if you were on stage.

By that I mean with the puppet on your hand and stand, talking OUTLOUD and running through the whole routine. As a ventriloquist (or any performer) you generally are acting and playing a character. For a vent that means acting the part of the vent and the puppet. If you want to play the part of the characters, you MUST rehearse OUTLOUD playing the parts of the characters.

You must rehearse your show as you wish to perform it, or chances are you won't remember it - leading to stage frightand nervousness.

Well, there are my top three "cures" for stage fright. Put them into practice and I think you'll find they'll really help.

As a shameless plug, these tips were taken from my audio CD program "Destroying Stage Fright Forever." If you want to hear a lot more techniques on this subject, you can pick up a copy of the CD on my website here:

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Until next time...Keep venting!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Something Really Special from Clinton Detweiler

I just had to let you know about a wonderful new collectible series of ventriloquist coins being released in an extremely limited edition quantity by the one and only Clinton Detweiler.

The set is called the "Ventriloquist Hall of Fame" coin set and will (with your help - more about that in a minute) be released in sets of four different coins as the series progresses.

I received my set today of the first four coins and am simply in awe of the superb craftsmanship in these large 34mm golden bronze coins.

The first coins feature Fred Maher (founder of Maher Ventriloquist Studios), Jimmy Nelson, Edgar Bergen and Senor Wences.

The artwork on the coins was beautifully done by decades long artist for Maher Studios, David Miller, and exquisitely engraved by master artisans.

I must take a minute to tell you a little about Maher Studios.

Since I've been around ventriloquism for over 45 years, I (and countless others) know of the company. But since Clinton "retired" and closed the business in 2006, there is a small chance that some of you newer vents may not know who and what Maher Studios was and what it meant to generations of would be ventriloquists.

The company was started in 1934 by Fred and Madeleine Maher and offered a home study course on how to become a ventriloquist. Maher Studios also sold professional vent figures (which are highly sought after collectors items today) as well as routines and other ventriloquism supplies.

When Fred unexpectedly passed away in 1952, Madeleine ran the business until she sold it to Clinton in 1969.

Clinton and his family grew the business over the next 37 years and the Maher Studios Home Course in Ventriloquism became the most complete, best selling and gold standard by which other ventriloquism books and courses aspired to.

He expanded the business to include everything one would need in regards to ventriloquism - books, DVD's, CD's, puppets, beginner and professional dummies.

Clinton was never too busy to personally answer questions and mentored thousands of ventriloquists over the years. He graded the lessons that were part of the course (he still does).

There is probably no one who has done more for ventriloquism for as many years as Clinton and his family.

Even though Clinton "closed" Maher Studios in 2006, he's never really retired. He has continued to write daily on his "Mr. D's Daily Ventriloquist Journal" blog, builds and repairs all kinds of puppets and dummies, still sells his Maher home study course and stays very active in the ventriloquial community.

You can check out Clinton's blog and projects here:

And, on occasion Clinton comes up with some great new ideas...

Which brings us back to the coins.

After nearly 50 years in the vent business, Clinton wanted to create something really special to offer the ventriloquist world. The result are these very exceptional collector coins.

If you are truly a fan of ventriloquism (which I think you are, as you are a reader of this blog) you simply have to own these coins. They are a testament to the vents of the past, present and even the future who have made a mark in this unique and wonderful entertainment field.

You can read more about the coins here and see some stunning photos showing the quality of these pieces of art:

As I mentioned, each set of four coins is going to be released in a very limited quantity, which will possibly make the value of the coins go up over time.


Only 200, that's right, only 200 of each four coin sets will be produced. So insure you get your first set by ordering now:

Now, here is how you can help with this labor of love Clinton has been working on for all of you.

100% of the proceeds from the sales of the "Ventriloquist Hall of Fame" coin sets will go directly towards the production costs of future sets. Clinton is not making any profit off of these coins. It costs several thousand dollars to produce and run each set of coins.

By you ordering the sets as they are released, you are helping to keep the memory alive of some of the greatest ventriloquists (and those who helped promote the art of ventriloquism) for future generations to remember.

The coins are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

I can honestly say you will absolutely love these coins.

Please order your set of the first four coins right now while you are thinking about it and help Clinton realize his dream of being able to release the entire collection he has planned for all of you to enjoy and treasure.

These coins will be a piece of ventriloquism history. Be a part of it!



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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Amazing Vent Show Coming in April, 2012!

I wanted to make you aware of a really great vent show coming to the NDA Performing Arts Center in Park Hills, Kentucky (near Cincinnati, Ohio) for two big performances on April 21st.

The program is called "Double Talk 2012" and the shows are at 2pm and 7:30pm.

And we are talking some of the best vent talent anywhere being on stage for this very special event.

All proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to help support, renovate, update and maintain the world's only ventriloquist museum - the world famous Vent Haven museum in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky.

If you are within driving distance, you do not want to miss this event! How often do you get to see world class ventriloquists all on one show? Unless you attend the annual Vent Haven ConVENTion, I'd say never.

The outstanding line-up for this family friendly show includes:

Megan Piphus:
Megan began performing vent at age ten. In 2008 she was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey special: The World's Smartest and Most Talented Kids. She plans on continuing her career as a musical ventriloquist bringing a positive and motivational message to her audiences.

Mike Hemmelgarn:
I've seen Mike's show many times and his combination of great ventriloquism, magic and breathtaking juggling makes this an act that is hard to top. Mike has been performing since he was eight years old and has performed thousands of shows in nearly every type of venue. He will have you falling out of your seat laughing with his vent humor, magic and his ability to juggle some unique tennis balls, bowling balls, very sharp knives, machetes and torches. Watch his act for the fun and come away with the fact that he lived through it!

Kevin Johnson:
Kevin began his vent career at age nine and has been performing ever since. He is probably most recognized for his appearances on "America's Got talent" and "The Late Show with David Letterman." He also worked a nine year run at San Diego's Legoland California theme park where he performed nearly 9,000 shows.

Tom Ladshaw (also your MC for the event):
Tom is a veteran of thousands of shows over his 35 year career, performing in more than 20 countries. He has worked with celebrities such as Regis Philbin, Robert Stack, Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Moore, Martha Stewart and many, many more. Also, Tom is recoginized as the worlds foremost expert on the history of ventriloquism, also owning one of the largest private collection of ventriloquism memorabilia in existence.

This is truly a very rare opportunity to see such amazing talent on one stage and also support the Vent Haven museum. I also just found out today that as a special treat, all of the performers will be available after the shows to meet and greet the folks who attend.

There will be photo-ops, autographs, and a souvenir table with posters and other items. I'll be there too, so I am personally asking you to attend and help a great cause. Plus, as a reader of my VenTips Blog, I'd love to meet you in person!

With the exception of Megan Piphus, who I look forward to meeting, I am good friends with all of the other performers and can personally guarantee you will be attending one of the best vent shows you've ever been to.

You can get all of the details for the event here:

Double Talk 2012.

Don't miss it!

See you there!