Last week I talked about needing a show. If you didn’t read that article, click here and do it now. I’ll wait.

You need a show that:

  • gets laughs
  • entertains the audience in front of you
  • makes people want to hire you
  • or have you back again and again.

It has nothing to do with the puppet. Nothing to do with the backdrop.

It has everything to do with you.

You already have that show?

Great. You are constantly working? You get asked back again and again? Then you don’t need this advice.

But if you aren’t working that much, you should really take this to heart.

People saw Darci Lynne Farmer win America’s Got Talent. She is 12 years old. How hard could this ventriloquism thing be?

They never saw the thousands of hours she spent practicing.

You think she was just that good? She definitely has talent. But having talent doesn’t make you good unless you hone it.

She had coaches. She consulted with pros. She and her family had a plan to help her reach the level where she wanted to excel.

A good show doesn’t just happen. You can’t write a script and go out and kill with it.

A good show takes time – off stage AND on.

People neglect to put in the time learning and seeking help. They disregard the importance of practicing. They don’t want to put time in on writing original material. They don’t even think about the prep time they should be spending in front of audiences.

Prep time – not shows …

Jeff Dunham talks about 10,000 hours needed in front of real audiences to hone your act.

Not your mirror. Not your video camera. Not your mom & dad, brother or sister, significant other or relatives.

A real audience.

An audience that doesn’t care that you are there.

An audience that isn’t there to see you.

An audience that you must win over. That you must grab their attention and hold it. An audience that needs to be roaring with laughter by the time you finish.

But that is hard. And your act will die onstage. And you will feel like giving up. And you might.

Or, you may start to pay attention to what worked and what didn’t. Cut out the junk and focus on the material that grabs people. Become comfortable enough that you take a risk and learn from it. Improving with each outing until you can take that uncaring audience and make them raving fans.

With stage time you will realize the show is a communication with the audience. The performance isn’t about you – it is about them.

But wait – didn’t I say it was about you?

The show is. You have to do the work to put it together and hone it. But the performance is about reading the audience. Riveting their attention and taking them on a ride they will never forget.

And you can only do that by putting in the hours.

But if you can’t get shows, how can you get in front of people? Start looking around. Where can you perform for free? How many shows can you do a night? Or a week? Put aside your ego. Work for free. Develop your act into a great show.

Jay Johnson once said to me:
You can’t get paid until you are worth your fee.

And with that, I’ll leave you to think.


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