One of the things I enjoy doing is working out ways to combine comedy props with ventriloquism. Some of the props can be very elaborate, while others are simple and can be used for a quick gag. Let’s explore this just a bit.
Any time you can add a different twist to your act, I think that is good. These comedy props are especially good to incorporate if you are working with a group of children, as their imaginations can run wild with these things. It also breaks up the “puppet, puppet, puppet” way of staging your act.
One comedy prop I have used, and you can too, is the wilting flower. In essence, the flower is made of feathers with a string attached to the petals of the flower so that when you pull the string (located at the bottom of the bunch of flower petals) it falls over and then can be released to spring back up. You can have your puppet say he ate garlic or onions, breathe on the flower and it wilts. Or have the puppet say he is going to hypnotize the flower to sleep, an of course it wilts and then springs back to life. The old comedy technique of “look but don’t see” can also come into play as the puppet is trying to tell you the flower has wilted, and when you look it comes back to life. This routine with the wilting flower can also be done with a break-away magic wand to great effect.
I look at comedy props that can be done with one hand, while the other hand is manipulating the puppet. Production props are also good as you only have to pull something out of a square circle or other magical box, to the amazement of the puppet. Look through your magic catalogs or go online and see what props you feel you can do with one hand.
I like to combine vent with a prop without using a puppet as well. I have a pop-away magic wand (the ends of the wand pop off, but be sure to secure both ends with a string or small rope so as to not let them pop off and you can’t retrieve them). I tell my audience I want to show them my special magic wand, then the end pops off. I look like I’m in trouble at this point (this is another comedy technique called “Entertainer In Trouble”) and you finally figure out there is a ghost or talking bug in the want and then do the distant voice using the wand as the prop. No puppet is necessary for this technique and it is a whole different approach to ventriloquism.
There are other comedy techniques you can use and I highly recommend you take a look at my ‘Comedy Writing For Kidshows” audio book, available from Maher. The techniques I outline can also be used for those of you working for adult audiences. Try it..I KNOW you’ll like it!
To contact Mark Wade: email@example.com
I always found a cycle or motor horn with the rubber bulb fixed to your table, a great laugh getter with the puppet honking it and making me jump and pretending do do it when I was looking the other way. If it was good enough for Harpo Marks it was good enough for me !.
Keep up the good work Mark, always good reading and learning, cheers Eric.