Last week I wrote an article on knowing the history of the art. As part of my research, I started watching some Arthur Worsley videos. Most were during his heyday as a young ventriloquist. In one he was much older.
I started thinking about them.
The material was very similar. I would watch one, and the next would have an addition or slightly different version of the routine. Even his later clip had similar material.
Arthur was an excellent ventriloquist. His audiences laughed at the antics of Charlie Brown, (his character) every time. He is still considered a master.
Then I started thinking about newer vents I see putting videos online. Every video features a different script. Sometimes even a different puppet.
I find myself wondering why they didn’t perfect the last routine. Yes, they get better with each presentation. But they could shorten their learning curve so much by honing the original material.
I look at my own act. When I started back into vent, I recorded every show. Looking back on those videos, I was okay at best. And I did every show I could grab. I worked a variety of low end markets just to get time in front of an audience.
And my script didn’t change each time. I focused on one show. Each outing I would test lines. I’d give them six, ten, twelve times in front of different audiences to see if they got a laugh. Yes, they stayed. No, they were modified or dropped.
As I was doing shows, other lines popped into my head. When they got a laugh they stayed.
The script morphed into something far superior than the printed words.
I honed it.
I learned how to take material and rework it until it generated the laughs I wanted.
At the same time, I honed my vent skills. The personality split. Not showing the character’s emotions on my face. The voice. The vocal expression. The manipulation. My personality and thoughts during the routine.
Plus, I honed my funny. Future material became easier to write because I had a very indepth understanding of my character. That made it easier to create new material and practice it.
The time from concept to performance shortened and the new bits brought bigger laughs.
You can’t do that when you constantly look for the next script, or change your act for each audience.
So take a look at what you are doing. Is it as good as you can make it? Or do you think it is time to hone your script and skills?
I promise you, it is worth it!