What is a Character Profile?
And why do you need one as a ventriloquist?
Do you own puppets that you never use? Maybe they just don’t work out. You like the puppet, but something just isn’t right. It isn’t funny. It seems flat, uninteresting and one-dimensional.
You search and search for the puppet that will just “click” with you. Hopefully it will make you the next Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator or Darci Lynne.
Sorry, that doesn’t happen.
The ventriloquist must create the puppet’s character. It is your skill that will bring it to life.
But how do you do it?
You need to start with a character profile.
To flesh out a character, you must try to get to know the character as if it was a real person. If you know the character inside and out, it will be a lot easier to bring it to life and write scripts for them.
A character profile is a list of your character’s traits. These lists can get pretty specific.
So what do you list? Let’s start with the:
What is your character’s sex? Is it male? Female? Other?
What is your character’s age? Make this decision carefully. The character’s age will dictate what it can and can not do. An older character will have more life experiences to talk about. A younger character would only be able to talk about things it has experienced.
Age also dictates personality. A person’s personality grows and changes with the amount of experience he or she has encountered.
Consider race, ethnicity and culture. Ethnicity & culture are a big part of a character’s personality. These will play a role in the character’s life experiences and how it sees the world. It must have a lineage. Know where the character came from and a bit of his or her family history.
Know what your character looks like. Height, weight, appearance and physical limitations or advantages are important. How have these characteristics affected them? For example, maybe a very tall character was teased about his height. Or an eating disorder created emotional havoc for an overweight character.
Also keep in mind that the physical appearance doesn’t HAVE to dictate personality. Just because someone appears small doesn’t mean they are weak or shy. They may be strong and ferocious.
Where does your character live? Country, town, state, street, type of residence. Do they live with others? Who? Why? Are they relations? Friends? Squatters? Real or imaginary? Living or dead?
What is their lifestyle like? Are they rich? Are the poor? Are they coasting through life? Or are they struggling?
How did they get in the above situation? Did they earn their money? Or inherit it? What might they be struggling with?
Who is in their family?
What is their relationship like with each family member? Is their dad never home? Does mom have a drinking problem? Is their uncle kind of strange, never comes to visit anymore and live in a big gray building behind a fence and barbwire?
The number one thing that can screw a person up mentally is their family. So it pays to did into this a bit. It is a great way to expose their insecurities and issues.
Who are their friends?
What are their friends like? Nice? Jerks? Bad element? Or a good influence?
What is their relationship like with their friends? What do they do together?
A person’s friendships say a lot about them.
What is your character attracted to?
What specifically attracts it? Let’s use people as an example. If your character is attracted to women, that doesn’t mean it is attracted to all women.
Is it something physical? Is it personality? Having things in common? Go into some detail here.
Attractions could be to danger, type of music, locations, etc. Know what your character wants.
Has your character ever been on a date? Has he or she fallen in love? Have they had their heart broken?
Know a bit about their romantic history as that colors their world.
What is your character good at? Why? How did they learn that?
If your character is good on computers and kind of a nerd, it makes no sense if later in your routine he becomes something totally different. Your character must remain consistent to be believed by the audience.
What can’t they do? Have they tried? What happened?
Is your character in school? Did they graduate? If so, from where?
Or did they drop out?
Were they good in school? Or did they barely escape?
What did they like? What did they hate?
Favorite teacher? Why?
What does your character do for a living?
Why do they do this? How did they get in this line of work?
Do they like it or hate it? If they hate it, what would they rather be doing?
What does your character do in their spare time?
What attracts them to that? How did they become interested?
PERSONALITY & CHARACTER:
Is your character an introvert or extrovert? Is it more reserved? Or outrageous?
Is your character more creative? Or analytical? Or balanced between the two?
What are your character’s strengths and weaknesses? Is your character ambitious? That could be a major strength. That could also be a major weakness if his ambition causes him to jump into horrible situations without thinking.
What makes them heroic, or a villian? What makes them act? What makes them hesitate?
What are your character’s goals and dreams?
What are your character’s fears and insecurities? This makes a character vunerable, and is a key for creating a believable personality.
What are your character’s beliefs? Do they believe in a higher power? Do they believe in a code of ethics? Do they believe in science? Or possibly magic? Or do they believe the gas companies are robbing people at the pump?
Are their beliefs based in fact? Fake news? Or just their own made up opinions?
This tells you if your character has a sense of duty, purpose or right and wrong?
What does your character truly care about? This will determine their true heart and soul.
Consider this list a starting point. You can go much deeper into your character’s personality if you wish.
Remember, just because you are listing these traits, doesn’t mean they have to go into your script. The purpose of this list is to get to know your character and how he or she might act or react to any situation.
If you can picture your character as a “real” personality, you will create a much better illusion for your ventriloquism act.
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