One of the biggest challenges I've faced as a ventriloquist is lip control. I noticed in some of my videos that I sometimes move my lips a little bit or they twitch. I've seen some professional vents do the same, including Jeff Dunham. For me it means more practice, but sometimes when performing on stage once can get caught up in the moment and slip up. The other thought is, can it affect one's authenticity or credibility while performing? I'm not talking about obvious lip movement, but subtle lip movement.
Finding Your "Cheese."
I'm not getting gigs here in eastern North Carolina. I do open mics and I make people laugh. The proof is in my videos. Unfortunately, some local agents and comedians think I'm a "novelty act with props." Comedy clubs obviously are not used to ventriloquists as adult entertainers at least here in the south. I look at my other comedian friends and they're constantly getting gigs and I'm just as funny but with puppets.
So I have to ask myself what's the deal? What gives? Is it my personal life? Am I being blackballed for something I said, did or wrote? Is it because of my lifestyle? Am I too old? Maybe I'm in the wrong tube? You see I was part of a personal development Zoom workshop and I learned a thing or two about changing my patterns of doing things. Real Tony Robbins type stuff. In the training, there was one virtual exercise I found most intriguing.
If you have five tubes and you put a piece of cheese in tube three, the mouse will sniff and find it; However, if after the 21st time the cheese was moved to tube five instead of tube three, the mouse will eventually find the cheese in tube five. Humans however, are not as smart. They would go up and down tube three looking for cheese that's no longer there and eventually die of starvation. Maybe I'm in the wrong tube? Maybe my cheese is in New York or California? Not in NC? Go where you're wanted not where you're "tolerated."
Some of my best attributes are determination, stage presence and integrity. So making my own way like Jeff Dunham did sounds like a great idea to me. When he was trying to make it, other comedians made fun of him and wrote foul things about him on the bathroom walls in the comedy clubs where he performed. Jeff made his own comedy special video with an audience and sold it to Comedy Central and the rest is history.
According to Wikipedia, Dunhams biggest hit was "Me the People" on Comedy Central and he's one of the most beloved comedians ever! He didn't give up. While his fellow comedians were slamming him, he was writing, practicing and producing shows that earned him a spot in the Guinness Book of world records for most tickets sold for a stand up comedy tour. Dunham has been called "America's favorite comedian" by Slate. According Pollstar, he is the top-grossing standup act in North America and among the most successful acts in the UK as well. Not many comedians can say that. He's a ventriloquist. Not a prop comic and he beat the odds.
I may not rise to Dunham's level of success as a ventriloquist comedian, but I'm dang sure going to try. Like the mouse searching for food where it had been in tube three, but moved to tube 5, I have to stop and sniff out the "cheese" for myself so I can be successful as a vent and live the kind of live I've always dreamed of.
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I write about Puppetry and Ventriloquism