Everyone has favorite movies.

It may be one you saw as a child. Or one you watched last night on television.

In this post I want to share some of my favorite movies and what I have learned as a result of watching them.

The movies will be in no particular order. I can’t say I have a top favorite.

So I’ll just name them as I think about them – and the first is:

greatest showman dvd1. The Greatest Showman

To be honest, I just saw this movie two days ago.

I had avoided it. Why?

Hugh Jackman for one. I couldn’t envision Wolverine in a musical about P.T. Barnum.

This did not rate on my must see list – but I watched it because it was about to disappear from HBO and I had a few hours to kill.

I was completely wrong. I LOVED IT!

First, the cinematography was absolutely amazing. Astounding visuals.

The costuming and coloring were vibrant and eye grabbing.

The plot drew me in and compelled me to see where it went.

Plus, the music had me moving to the beat.

2. The Princess Bride

Great story.

Unique structure and presentation with recalls to “reality.”

Lots of adventure with interesting twists.

Funny lines.

Memorable characters.

3. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut

Crazy plot lines that integrated into a complete story.

Memorable characters.

Hilarious comedy (although not for everyone.)

Music that sewed the movie together.

Cutting edge animation. (NOT!)

I could go on but you would see the same theme . . .

What did these movies have in common?

All of these movies had memorable, larger than life characters.

They each had a compelling plot that pulled me in.

Each had very memorable lines.

And two had catchy music that had me moving along to the beat.

How can you apply this to your act?

How can you make your show a favorite of audiences?

First, start with your characters. Make them memorable and larger than life. Make them real and endearing to audiences.

Larger than life?

Think about the great vent characters: Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, Lamb Chop, Peanut, Achmed, Monkey and Ted E. Bear. They are all larger than life. They are all endearing, even Achmed.

Don’t copy – but give serious thought about how you can turn your characters into instantly recognizable stars.

A compelling plot.

I mentioned this in an early article where I called it an overarching theme – a thread that runs through your act. You need to give audiences something to follow. They won’t remember a bunch of random jokes at the end of the night.

Think of George Carlin’s “Stuff” routine. Or Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First?” These routines are memorable because they are funny AND they have a story.

Memorable lines.

And they don’t always have to be jokes. In the movies above for example, these lines are iconically memorable just by the way they were delivered:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”


“We accidentally replaced your heart with a baked potato. You have about three seconds to live.”

“It’s been six weeks since Saddam Hussein was killed by a pack of wild boars and the world is still glad to be rid of him.”

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

“Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.”

Catchy music.

You don’t have to sing. In fact, if you can’t, don’t.

I use catchy music prior to the show while people are waiting for things to start. This pre-show music pumps up the audience’s energy.

I use tunes for puppet transitions.

Think about ways you could use music background to enhance your act.

Cinematography and vibrant color.

Make your act something to watch. If it isn’t eye catching you will have a harder time holding the audience’s attention. Give them something to look at. Have details that will pop out and others that may take some time to find.

If you are performing – perform using every talent you have and every bit of tradecraft you can.

Think about your favorite movies. Search deep down and determine why they are favorites. Then use those lessons to improve your show, you’re offering to the world of entertainment.

It is a show. So give people one!

BTW – I don’t usually do this but I wanted to take a second to wish my good friend Chuck Lyons a happy birthday today, June 24. Chuck helps Maher Studios in so many ways, including manning our booth at the upcoming Vent Haven ConVENTion. Thank you Chuck for being my friend and wishing you the very best today and always!