Breaking The Mold

Ventriloquists sometimes get a bad rap.

For years, agents didn’t want to book them because they felt vent acts were stuck in the 50’s. Everyone ws working with cheeky boy figures. It seemed as if  clients only had a choice of Charlie McCarthy, Jerry Mahoney or Danny O’Day knockoffs.

Then along came Ronn Lucas with Billy and Scorch. They were different. People paid attention and Ronn became a star. Jeff Dunham was another who broke the mold. His characters were unlike any out there. His act was unique and memorable. Jeff went on to international stardom.

Still, the community becomes filled with “me too” people. Now, instead of Charlie, Jerry & Danny we see grumpy old men like Walter and nutcases like Peanut. One vent thought he was being original when he put Peanut’s vocal style and mannerisms in another type of soft puppet. Watch the act and there is no denying who he is copying.

I recently had a beginning ventriloquist ask me where I purchased Dangerous. The original duck was a stock puppet from Pavlov’s. I modified him to suit the character I wanted to create.

I gave the vent the answer he was looking for. I also mentioned that he should not try to copy what someone else is doing. Otherwise you limit yourself – and I’ll give you the perfect example …

Sammy King was selling Francisco the Mexican Parrot puppets. I purchased one. No matter what I do, I can not create my own character for that bird. Every time I look at him, I see and hear Francisco. That prevents me from taking him in a new direction and developing my own material. If I used him, it would never be as good as the original.

I want to stress that I am not saying don’t purchase a stock puppet. BUT – if you do, make it your own. Dress the puppet to fit the character YOU create.

Don’t become a cheap imitation of what others do. Use your own creativity and develop something original. It may not be easy, but nothing good ever is.

Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below or in the forum!

About The Author

Tom Crowl

MaherStudios.com, creator of Learn-Ventriloquism.com, Professional ventriloquist.

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