It's been a while since I've added a new segment of my
"One Question" series.
Before I get to the question asked by a reader of my VenTips
email newsletter, let me remind you that the 2014 Vent Haven
International Ventriloquist ConVENTion is fast approaching!
It's from July 16-19 at the Cincinnati, Ohio Airport Marriot Hotel
and Convention Center. A beautiful facility! And 4 days of great
workshops, rubbing shoulders with the pros, fantastic shows,
2 full dealer's rooms and much, much more!
There is still time to register! Just head on over to
to download a schedule of events and registration form. I hope to
see you there!
Now, to answer (or try to) this question from ventriloquist Bob M.:
"Lee, my biggest challenge is complacency. I look back to my many
shows and I realize how many times I would do a show like I was on
automatic pilot. That's bad. For when you lose your enthusiasm you
can lose your crowd."
Great question Bob and not really easy to answer. How does Jeff
Dunham, Terry Fator and other full-time ventriloquists, who
do hundreds of shows a year, not get bored and start performing
like a robot?
Let alone performers who are not necessarily famous, but who
keep busy enough that at times it's almost boring to them to
perform their routine.
I would start off by saying that one needs to keep the focus
off of yourself and thinking "same show. different day" and
instead focus on the audience and realizing before you walk
on the stage for every performance,that you OWE your audience
your best. They've come to see YOU and be entertained.
To give less than your best cheats your audience.
Things that will help you are:
-Remembering that most of the people who have come to
see you perform may not have seen your show before.
It's the first time they have seen you, even
though it may be the 1,000th time you've done your routine.
-Keep your audience engaged in your act. As you feel
the energy from the crowd, it will help "wake you up"
from any "auto pilot" mode you may be in.
Legendary vent Bill DeMar once told me a story of a
county fair he was working and he had done the same show
over and over during the run of the fair.
He too, went into an auto pilot mode and began mentally
reading the t-shirts of people in the audience. He wasn't
sure how long he was looking around reading all
of the crazy things on the audience members t-shirts, but at some
point in the show he realized what he was doing.
It mortified Bill. He realized these people had
come to see him give his best and he was just going through
He vowed never to do that again and started FOCUSING
on giving his audience the best every time he performed.
Again, realizing as a professional entertainer he OWED
his audience nothing less.
Really watch the faces of your audience. When you see the
smiles and hear the laughter, it makes it easier to enjoy
making your act seem to that particular audience that it's
the first time for you, too(even though it's not).
Use the opportunity while looking at your audience to
try and ad-lib a bit if you notice something that strikes
you funny with an audience member that you might be able to
play off of.
Try to add small changes from time to time. I don't mean
an overhaul of your act every show, but look for tweaks
in your act to change it up enough to make it more fun for
And sometimes you just have to suck it up! Some shows will
go better than others, but you need to be 100% professional
and "fake it" if you have to so the crowd believes that you
are having as much fun as they are.
Don't forget - you have worked hard to become a good
And performing is what you wanted to do!
It should be fun and exciting for most every show you do.
Just think of what you COULD be doing...hmmm...
working at a day job you hate at "Clem's Roofing and Siding"
just to get a weekly paycheck, or getting up in front of an audience and
creating laughter and excitement!
Tough choice! 8-)
So, always give your best. Every time. Under all circumstances.
When you do, your audience will know it and you'll feed off of
I hope that helps, Bob. Thanks for your question.