Good Comedy Material Important For Kidshows
By: Mark Wade
I have been an advocate for the importance of kidshows my entire life. It might have something to do to the fact I made a great living doing vent full time for youngsters for well over 30 years. Now that I am semi-retired and have time to reflect back on my career, I found the the big secret to kidshows succcess.
IT’S NOT AN ADULT SHOW WATERED DOWN
The real secret was that I could custom-produce useable comedy material aimed specifically for children (and families), which kept my shows fresh and in demand. I didn’t adhere to the old school of thought that children were just miniature adults and all I had to do was to water down and modify my adult show. Not so ! I found just the contrary, that I needed to custom write to this audience and include elements of what was funny to kids.
I had successfully done hundreds (maybe thousands) of shows for grown ups, and was successful in this market, but I wanted to expand out into the kidshow market. I then began my research on what makes kids laugh. I studied other acts; watched kids television programs, and in short, became a student of children’s comedy. My discovery led me to what I call a kidshow gold mine; kidshows are not just slapstick, not just silly words, but actual comedy techniques These techniques are the foundation to a successful script, which can almost guarantee laughs.
I found several different techniques come into play, but for the sake of this article I will give you readers only a few to start with. These have been tried and true, so I know they will work for you. So here goes my short list of comedy techniques for kidshows:
- Exaggeration of a mental picture
- Entertainer In trouble
- Look-don’t see
- Comedy mix-up
Good entertainers of children can paint pictures in the minds of children with words. Since the imagination of kids is almost limitless, you can have fun and get laughs by exaggerating what an object can be. An over sized spoon could be a “spoon made to fit your mouth” (said to the vent by the puppet). Or could be referred to as a paddle used in a boat going through the Congo. The idea is to make the object bigger, and more exaggerated then what it is. Turn the ordinary into something spectacular to get laughs.
The Enterainer In Trouble is a technique wherein the puppet gives the vent a hard time or teases the vent. Kids root for the puppet as he is saying what kids would love to say to an adult from time to time. When the puppet gets the best of the vent, big laughs ensue.
One of my favorite techniques is the Look- Don’t See, where the puppet does something naughty, the kids scream that the puppet is doing something, and when the vent looks the puppet is not doing it. (and the puppet swears he never did it). You can milk this for about three times before catching the puppet (I would suggest only doing this three times. You don’t want to overdo it!) and the big laughs come at that point.
The Comedy Mix-Up is a technique where you try to have the puppet recite a poem that is well known by everyone, especially the kids, and the puppets completely goofs up the words. He or she says things wrong, recites passages from some other poem or story, and in general butchers up the story. “The Night Before Christmas” is a favorite to mix up as well as nursery rhymes.
There really is a “method to the madness” of creating great comedy for kids. Many adults might say “You used an old joke”, but they forget that there is no such thing as an old joke to kids. They are possibly hearing an old standard joke for the very first time, so it’s new and exciting to them.
Remember, doing a performance for children takes preparation and practice. If someone tells you “I just throw in a puppet with some magic tricks and that keeps the kids happy!,” they don’t know what they are doing.
If you are having trouble or need some comedy material written for you I am available to custom write scripts or even individual jokes. I want YOUR audience to be fully entertained! Mark Wade: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pursuing Ventriloquists Goals And Dreams
By: Todd Oliver
If there is just one statement of advice I would share with other Vents this is it:
Never allow anyone (including a little voice in your head) tell you that a goal or achievement cannot happen. And don’t, please don’t make decisions when you’re down, had a rough crowd, or you’re not feeling well.
I cannot tell you how many other comedians over the years told me: “ you’ll never do the Letterman Show, but you know what; I did it, and it was my best night in Television!
Still, TV was never and still isn’t a big goal of mine., Yes it is exposure, yes it’s a credit, yes, yes, yes. But I would rather play 100- 500 seat theaters in medium size communities.
You see this is where I always seem to have my most naturally fun and enjoyable shows. It’s just a “good fit” for my show.
The audiences are generally sober, smiling and not jaded by wasting money gambling and being hustled. Filling my calendar isn’t easy, it’s a daily grind of work. “ If it’s going to be, it’s up to me!”.
We all have good days and bad days- but a bad day cannot stop you from moving forward with the Art Of Ventriloquism.
Just surround yourself with good stuff.
Read books that inspire, limit the amount of TV you watch and be careful with 24 hour news. We are in the business of making people happy and laugh, that’s why I stay away from “ the darkness”; the negative things and cynical people.
I don’t pay that much attention to other comedians. I don’t give my time and energy to stuff like that. But I will help any
performer anyway I can if possible.
I cannot relate to the hateful Late Night agendas of some TV network performers.
I just prefer reading books that I find uplifting and fun.
In my office, posters and pictures of “working variety performers” cover the walls. Most of my heroes are relatively unknown and perhaps forgotten old timers who made thousands of folks happy with the great value of family entertainment.
Remember you can chase that rainbow, just don’t pay attention to the rain, the sun will come out after every storm!
Keep making Vent fun!
Here are a couple of my favorite dessert recipes, I thought you might enjoy this holiday season . One for Christmas and one for New Years, enjoy have a safe and happy holiday season. See you in March. – Clara
The recipe cards are full sized, 4″ x 6″ in the PDF copy of the Spotlight, which may be downloaded on page one of this issue. That will allow you to print them out to use in the kitchen!
- Dec. 28 – Sioux Falls, SD.
- Dec. 29 – Kansas City, MO.
- Dec. 30 – St. Louis, MO.
- Dec. 31 – Chicago, IL.
- Jan. 09 – Toronto, ON.
- Jan. 10 – Cleveland, OH.
- Jan. 11 – Milwaukee, WI.
- Jan. 12 – Champaign, IL.
- Jan. 13 – Highland Heights, KY.
- Jan. 23 – Moline, IL.
- Jan. 24 – Minneapolis, MN.
- Jan. 25 – Fargo, ND.
- Jan. 26 – Bismark, ND.
- Jan. 27 – Billings, MT.
To Order Tickets, Visit:
- Feb. 09 – Wichita, KS.
- Feb. 10 – Little Rock, AR.
- Feb. 14 – Tulsa, OK.
- Feb. 15 – Austin, TX.
- Feb. 16 – Dallas, TX.
- Feb. 27 – Oshawa, ON.
- Feb. 28 – Detroit, MI.
- Mar. 01 – Peterborough, ON.
- Mar. 02 – Laval, QC
- Mar. 03 – Ottawa, ON.
- Mar. 13 – Kitchener, ON.
- Mar. 14 – Syracuse, NY.
- Mar. 15 – Portland, ME.
- Dec. 28 – Jacksonville, FL.
- Dec. 29 – Clearwater, FL.
- Dec. 30 – Orlando, FL.
To order Tour tickets, or to see Terry at the Mirage in Las Vegas, visit:
- Dec. 15 – North Charleston, SC.
- Dec. 21 – Boise, ID.
- Dec. 22 – Salt Lake City, UT.
- Jan. 13 – Phoenix, AZ.
- Jan. 19 – Syracuse, NY.
- Jan. 20 – Buffalo, NY.
- Jan. 26 – Louisville, KY.
- Jan. 27 – St. Louis, MO.
- Feb. 15 – Bethlehem, PA.
- Feb. 16 – Newark, NJ.
- Mar. 02 – Mashantucket, CT.
- Mar. 03 – Medford, MA.
- Mar. 09 – Roanoke, VA.
- Mar. 10 – Richmond, VA.
To order tour tickets for Darci visit:
Wally Cady writes:
Santa arrived on November 2 to a Florida mall with “Rudy” to open his appearance daily through December 24. Santa and Rudy discussed preparations at the North Pole for Santa’s annual trip around the world delivering gifts to children. Santa used his teleportation machine to bring a decorated Christmas tree from the North Pole to the mall, then a volunteer helped to produce candy canes with his candy factory. The show ended with a magical Night Before Christmas story with seven volunteers from the audience.
Pictured: Wally Cady a.k.a. Santa and Rudy the Reindeer
- Ventriloquist dummy “traditional figure in the Marshall style” handmade wood carved.40 inches tall /100 cm. Head, hands and feets with shoes is carved from basswood. Eyes moving side-to-side with a self -centering feature and moving mouth.
Boy professional ventriloquist dummy carved from wood 31 inches tall / 80 cm. Head, hair, hands and feet is carved from basswood. Make body also from wood. Eyes moving side-to-side with a self -centering feature and moving mouth.
- Our carved hands for ventriloquist, we can make any kind of hands and parts for ventriloquist.
Trish Dunn writes:
You may or may not know I’ve been living in England for almost two years. My father was an American and I grew up in North Carolina and I am a US Citizen. My mother was from Norwich England and growing up we spent many summers and Christmases in Norwich. I am/was entitled to British Citizenship through my mother. When my youngest son left home and joined the United States Air Force I decided it was time for a change and I have been living in Norwich ever since.
I am thrilled to be lucky enough to be back in the United States for the Holidays. How lucky I am to be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family and friends in the US, all the while doing shows in the busy Holiday Season. I am truly blessed.
I am doing my third year as part of the holiday variety show “Christmas in Dixie – Redneck Style” show at GTS Theatre located in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. This year I participate in at least two and sometimes three segments of the show.
Agnes, one of my favorite characters that I use in every one of my standard comic ventriloquism shows has been adapted and covered in bandages to use as a comedy set that is performed prior to the cast performing “Grandma Got Run Over by A Reindeer”. It is a great segment because the second I walk out with her wailing about being in pain, and even before the actually comedy dialogue begins, the audience is already tuned laughing knowing where the bit is going.
Leroy the Redneck Reindeer is a character that I developed specifically for this show. When I was contacted about 3.5 years ago and asked if I would be a part of the show, I wasn’t given any direction and was just told to bring some comedy to a Christmas Variety Show. Being aware that the song by Joe Diffie, “Leroy the Redneck Reindeer” was to be a standard bit featured in the show, I immediately contacted JET at The Dummy Shoppe and had a redneck reindeer made. He’s turned into such a crowd favorite that the owners expect him to come out a the end of the show with the rest of the cast to take a bow himself.
As with any show during November and December, occasionally the overall show has to be restructured because someone is out due to a cold or flu. On those occasions, I do an audience participation bit. Most of the time it is the mask, but we always have other bits we include if time is needed.
While doing the Christmas variety show, I am lucky enough to have booked several corporate Christmas Parties and Country Clubs in and around the Myrtle Beach area. I am also performing one of my full hour long shows at GTS Theater on Thursday December the 13th. The show was/is a last minute schedule in response to so many people approaching the theatre to find out when and where they can see one of my full shows, so I am very excited about that.
I will be returning to Norwich England on December 31st. I have the full month of January to get over my jet lag, though I know it won’t take me that long. It all kicks off again in the UK where I will be performing my “Voices in my Head” show. Currently I have shows scheduled in Leicester on February 7, 8, and 14th. In the midst of the shows in Leicester I have a feature spot at Walnut Tree Shades in Norwich on February 13th in the Hooma Treehouse Comedy Show.
It’s taken what seems like forever for me to get myself set up in a new country, but I am thrilled and blessed to be filling my calendar in the UK.
Nancy Rosekrans writes:
Picture attached is me Nancy Rosekrans as my character “Beatrice Green, the recycling queen” but this time, it’s”Engineer Beatrice” with “Conductor Orville” at the Kingsport Model Train Project in Kingsport, TN Nov. 17th
Eddie Siller writes:
Southwest Ventriloquist Club making plans for Annual Get Together
Experiences with Dementia Patients
In the September issue of Spotlight I wrote about my idea of testing a new script in a retirement home. I was not satisfied with the old script. The audience could not laugh enough. So my characters and I were curious how the new script will arrive. There were about 30 spectators, many dementia patients. The head of the retirement home had also invited a group of children. They celebrated a birthday. How did my new text arrive? Did people show reactions? Did they laugh? No – no reactions and no feedback. But the kids! They laughed and had a great time. What is my explanation? What can I learn from the behavior of the old people? Many suffer from dementia. They do not laugh the way we know it. They laugh with their hearts. Their laughter is invisible to us. In their heart they enjoy the moments very much. Going back to their room after the performance and have probably forgotten everything as the manager explained me. He said: But the refreshing laughter of the children has also touched the heart of the old people. Isn’t that really nice?
First, a huge congratulations to everyone who was nominated in the Ventriloquist Of The Year categories. It shows that people in our community recognize what you are doing in the world of vent.
The voting was open to the public and some of the contests were very close – so here are our 2019 Ventriloquists Of The Year!
International Ventriloquist Of The Year
NorthEast Regional Ventriloquist Of The Year
SouthEast Regional Ventriloquist Of The Year
Midwest Regional Ventriloquist Of The Year
West Regional Ventriloquist Of The Year
SouthWest Regional Ventriloquist Of The Year
European Ventriloquist Of The Year
Asia Ventriloquist Of The Year
Australian Ventriloquist Of The Year
Your Award Certificates will be emailed to you soon – and you will be listed in the awards area on our website.
I’d like to start by thanking everyone who submitted scripts to the I.V.S. The updated script book, crediting each author, is now available in the Script Vault. I also want to thank all of the members who voted on the scripts. The script with the most votes was:
by Dennis Murphy
Dennis, your Amazon Gift Card and Vent Haven ConVENTion registration are on the way!
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