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Monday, July 18, 2011


This was a convention that should not have been missed this will be one that will be remembered for your lifetime, having Jay Johnson, Terry Fator, Jeff Dunham and Jimmy Nelson on the same stage in the same 2 hours no to out do the other entertainment present through out the room, all world class ventriloquists. There were so many names in that room it was a virtual who's who with vents from all over the world and representing almost every state. The international show usually not quite understood, was stupendous, not one bit dull, all upward in spirit.
The first day We signed in and the camera's were rolling Neil Leifer was there to film and document the happenings from the moment it began to its final seconds. The gift were wonderful, we rec'd a keep sake scrap book of Jimmy Nelson's life, of which I got signed by as many people as I could as well as a wonderful poster to be framedI also got many signatures on it. Buttons which we were told to trade each package contained four buttons of Jimmys four characters, Danny, Farfel, Humphrey Higsbye and Ftatateeta and then a larger button for $2. which went to the museum. On to the first timers of which they broke records 104 newbies and at this time 465 present, but wait that will change by the end of the convention 539 present. Now its time to meet the Nelsons (no time tonight for dinner) Mark introduced Jimmy and Betty Nelson to a standing Ovation...I had an opportunity to ask Jimmy about his contract with the Nestles corporation. Then the official opening with Brook Brookings and Mark and then the big wednesday night show Mc'd by Bob Hammill and Philip Laurel and Hardy, Swami (like Carnac and presenter of the questions) then Philip as Sarge Sound, the other entertainement was the fabulous Mike Himmelgarn and his juggling and vent, Neal Bacon with 3 of his characters and Pete Michaels... Then woman got their turn at the round table discussing woman in vent, Lynn Trefzger-Joy, Peggy Miller, Sylvia Fletcher, Liz Von Seggen and Mary Kingsley I didn't stay for the entire discussion due to Al Good having a vent piece for me, but as I was leaving they began heckling me, all I could say was sorry but I must do a man's thing and left.
2nd Day Mark greeted us and then presented Gary Owen gave us a lecture on adding vocal variety to our act..beginning with some warm up scales, then he told us to in the gary owen style (from laugh in) hear ourselves say hello, the lecture included various types of personalities, rough, soft, well you know Virginia Peterson and Neal Bacon and one other who slips my memory presently went on stage for Gary to help them with a new voice.
Mark Wade and Ken Grove take the stage again to lecture us on Generating Great Ideas for Vents...Such as Marks Crying baby routine using a aud vol. How to write a routine using the wheel style with the theme as the hub, ect. A new Idea from Axtell and Kokodo, a mouth piece and fake mic...they are selling very fast, he is now backed up 3 months...An announcement was made that the lecture Comedy converstions was recorded and available in the dealers room. Hey its Lunch time...YUM!!! returning to the Junior open Mic with Bob Isaacson who presented his character Donny O'Day a cousin to Danny and did a bit on that. 5-8 junior vents presented their talent, one better then the next. Now lets see if the seniors can out do the juniors, wow it was tough..5-8 senior vents as well. Al Getler was the mc for this portion of the show. Now on to another round table discussion What Makes a Pro presented again by Al Getler, the panel consisted of Pete Michaels, Don Bryan, Dan Horn, Peggy Miller, Sammy King and The Dummy Doctor Alan Semok...Sorry can't share much about this due to having other thingsd needed to get done. Dinner Time...and Open Dealer room... Now moving on to the event of the convention The Jimmy Nelson feature, Tom Ladshaw presents 'The Jan 2011 Archieve Filming of The Jimmy Nelson Life Story for bothe the vent Haven Museum and Museum of Television and Radio this was a 15 min snipet with Q and A to follow after a presentation of Jimmy Nelson to another standing O.
Followed by Gen'l open Mic which went on till 2 am (the second night went to 3 am.
3rd Day was our work shops in the moring covering a wide range of topics followed by the group photos as picture time with our friends..followed by lunch, boy do we eat a lot...After lunch, it was time for dinner, hahahha!! no we went on to learn how to create photos to tell stories presented by Bob Rumba, 3 people were chosen to make a new picture, they were Neale Bacon, Dirk Golden and sorry her name escapes me at this time but she had a pretty blue wrap around bird...Bob showed us how to pose ourselves and the character pupets to sell the act. One of the highlights of the week was A Conversation with Terry Fator, Mark presented Terry to a standing O questions that mark threw out at him regarding his career, from how he got involved in vent. Then questions were asked by various members of the audience, I asked him the usual stuff as my involvement..then he brought out Winston and performed What a Wonderful World, he only brought Winston with him, alright everybody same time Awwwww!!! Time to do that thing we vents do alot of DINNER!!!!
JIMMY NELSON 70 YEARS OF LAUGHTER-Mark Presented Tom Ladshaw who told us some of the high lights of Jimmy Nelsons career..then presented a 70 minute film of his life, where as Jimmy remarked when he was presented his just rewards, "I felt like I died."
When the film ended,An aside I was a very fortunate vent to sat directly behind Betty and Jimmy. When it was Jimmy turn to take the stage again he did it to a thunderous applause, now its time to give back to him for the many years he has given to us. Many acculades were bestowed upon him, from the Mayor of Ft Mithcell,He received letters from both congress and the senate, The Gov'nor of the state sent him a letter as well as a letter from President Obama.
Donald Woodward presented Jimmy Nelson with his likeness in wood Alfaro made a bronze bust, the museum renamed one of the buildings in his honor and a sign (banner) was also presnted to him a copy of which was won by a vent in the raffle. Ok Now the Raffle with proceeds going to the museum, many nice items were donated to the raffle, too many to name here, but there were figures electronics and two major figures one by Jim Eisenberg from Ventriloquist Sidehows and the major award from MAT puppets... Ok you think you might have had enough for one day, well think again vents of many talents, time for the open mic, which began at 11:30 pm and went on to the wee hours 3:30 to be exact.
I needed the hospitality room, oh have I said the hospitality room was open since Wed 9pm
and every evening till the convention closed.
4th Day- The International Show-MC'd by Stevo Shuling, the talents of Peter and Mary Kingsley(Canada) who used Mark Stise in a part of her show, next we had Frodolin Calindo Kalt (Switzerland) Johnny Welsh (Mexico) Sarah Jones (Australia)..How much I enjoyed this international show this year is way beyond discription, it was exceptional. After the show was finished with a standing O included in the show, we moved on to the Panel discussion with all the talent from the show/which we didn't have because it ran to long Steve said "more show less talking"...Back to the show, Peter and Mary opened their show to singing and had the audience joining in, they brought up Mark Stise, and her old lady figure sang to him. Then they used Keven Barnett turning him into a human dummy.Sarah Jones gave us a demo on her children's shows, not very different then american childrens shows, Johnny Welsh gave us a fabulous hat routine that was as funny as you can possibly imagine...Hey guess what were doing now, can you guess, WERE EATING AGAIN!!!!LUNCH.. Ok I ate a quick sandwich and took a nap, its off to the museum to see the new Jimmy Nelson display in his very own building. as well as building where my pictures were in, a braggert am I, yes yes!!!! This went on till 4PM Next came a lecture to end all lectures by Jeff Dunham, it was suposed to be on how to write a 5 minute routine, well he did tell us how in less then 5 minutes, what made the lecture was, it should have been titled WELCOME TO THE FUTURE...What was it about you might ask?? How to clone your dummy, thats right you can now print any dummy with the aid of a new machine and new technology, watch for the first copies to be coming out in Nov/Dec 2011 Keep you eyes and ears tuned to Jeff Dunham...Alright time for the all star show...with Mark Merchant, Peggy Miller, Don Bryan and Gary Hunter mc'd by Mark Merchant, I don't need to tell you how talented each of these vents are great show..The Dealer rooms open again till mid night and hospitality room..sliders, pizza, snacks, drinks, poolside, all are part of the offerings and don't forget to tip your bar maid. Well thats the story of the convention hope you liked it and anyone with any thing to add please do...Good bye to Vent Haven Con 2011 and lets get ready for 2012...add your comments and questions.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Hi N Jay
The main difference between entertaining with ventriloquism today as opposed to the way it was in the 60s and in it’s new varieties of application.

As fine art (realism) is to abstract art, ventriloquial characterizations; the realistic urban type, cheeky boy character, Charlie McCarthy, in America, or Archie Andrews in the UK, Jerry Mahoney, or Nelson’s Danny character, their sidekick offsets, the country bumpkin, Mortimer, or Nelson’s Humphry Higsby, even Ricky Laine‘s Velvel were standard applications of the art. This includes Senor Wences, face on a hand or voice in a box…”S’awright!”

Today, however, the art transcends the tradition in a number of ways. There is the musical bent by way of Terry Fator’s impressionism and abstracted oddities…such as the purple Woozel by Dunham, highly acceptable and successful.

Sherry Lewis acted as a bridge in a way between the earlier system and the present one. She successfully demonstrated that the ventriloquial illusion was broad enough in its scope to manifest with even a sock puppet.

As to puppets for ventriloquists we went from wood to cloth to latex. Ventriloquial puppet designers such as Steve Axtell’s latex models and his mechanical variations, (a talking drawing board) hypotheticaly move the traditional puppet form for the ventriloquist into the computer generated character forms.
fat and green or skinny and gray, Shrek and his talking donkey, Woozles or singing troubadours, all forms are acceptable to the ventriloquist , his or her imagination and their audience.

Where once upon a time such concepts most certainly would have been considered too odd and too far ahead of their time to be understood by people of that era, with the introduction of comedy into the form in the late 19th century, ventriloquists and their audiences have seen continual changes in the ventriloquist’s application. Between the late 50‘ into the 60‘s and 70‘s, to the present time, today’s huge menu of variety entertainment, live and broadcast has served to educate and increase ventriloquism‘s potential target audience, always seeking some new and different characterization of earlier art forms.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Attending the convention last year gave me the opportunity to view the movie and must say was very impressed with what I saw. The awards that this movie has won were well deserved. From Fators climb to the top as well as the heart breaks of many of the vents profiled. Hope everyone who get the chance to view this movie enjoys it as well as I did. This is a must see movie for those who like ventriloquism and the behind the scenes stuff you don't normally see. Go See Dumbstruck..

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Jim Carlo known to the world of childrens entertainment and close up magic as Jimbo,Jimbo, has been a professional magician for over 20 years. In this time he has won international acclaim as a top comedy Cabaret performer and Children's
Entertainer. He has represented the United Kingdom in the Comedy Slapstick awards on German TV,and has appeared no less than 20 times on international and UK Television
Jim began as a lover of sports, let Jim tell you in his own words "I was very sporty playing for all the school teams, football, rugby, swimming, athletics,... At 14 I managed to get a set of drums and taught my self how to play. I left school at 15 and joined a group as a drummer. We played cover songs in Pubs, Clubs etc." One christmas Jim was bought a chord organ with 3 octive of keys for the right hand and 12 chord buttons for the left."I was on this non stop learning new songs and because the left hand only had to press a button for a chord it was quite easy." All of which began his road to the world of entertaining. Due to Jims family piano, it was easy for him to self teach himself,learning some of the popular songs on the time.

As a young boy, Jim grew up in the UK and watching magic shows on TV. Ali Bongo, David Nixon were two of his favorites. As a lad Jim had a great intrest in magic. My father worked in a steel foundary and each year for the workers children they had a Christmas Party. At the end Santa would come and give all the kids a present. I always wanted a magic set. Each year I asked Dad if they would give me a Magic Set. and each year I didnt get one. My mom showed me a couple of simple tricks with cards and that was about it.

At around 8 or 9 I started to play Key Boards. Jim keeping his interest in magic continued with is music, becoming a great drummer. The tides begin to change for Jim when he get hold of an old copy of the Magic Magazine, he taight himself some tricks, soon he got himself another book by Patrick Paige '150 Comedy Props. To make the magic and the music work he turned the band into a comedy band, using the principals of comedy he culled from these books.

"I got an intrest in close-up magic around the age of 21/22 so started doing a few card tricks, vanishing silk etc etc. Around 1987 I did a summer season at a holiday park with my comedy group called Bumper Bundle. We did a music/Dance/ Comedy show. The comedy show as Fire Eating and Cod Magic. But a couple of tricks went how they should."

The following year we did functions and then another summer season at a Holiday Centre in Skegness England. This was where all the families used to have an holiday for a week or 2. We were the resident band playing 6 nights a week. But on 1 night we would do our cabaret spot featuring me dressed as Abdul the Amazing Catastrophy. It was a comedy Magic and Fire eating shows with all sorts of silly props.

This is just the beginning of Jimbos climb to the top of the world of magic in UK, there will be much more to come.

Jimbo is a clown from the minute he gets on the stage to the minute he enters his dressing room, to say the least Jimbo is always on, some of his pantomine included Jack & the Beanstalk-Cinderella-Wizard of Oz-Babes in the WoodSanta and the Ice Witch
The Land of Make Believe

Jim was the recipient of many national and international awards: 1989 Awarded 3 nominations by the Variety Club of Jersey
1991 International Brotherhood of Magicians Triple Award Winner for Best Comedy Act, Most Original Act,Best Magic Act 1998 winner of the British Championships of Comedy magic. Jim's comedy entertainment has taken him to many distant landsfrom Paris, Russia,USA, Germany, Spain to name just a few. He was a welcome entertainer aboard many of the worlds cruise lines as a recurring entertainer, like the Royal Carribbean
Jimbo has worked on the top American and Eiropean Cruise Lines, and summer resorts and hotels which included 15 summer seasons at Butlins, Pontins,Haven, Jersey and the Isle of Man Hotels. Not to omit any chances of entertaining, jim searched out and won the hearts of those who camped. To add to his accomplishments he has performed and won awards at the Magic Castle in LA, as well as the Kidabra convention in Dollyword Tennessee.

Jimbo's membership includes: World Famous Magic Circle London, Associate of the Inner Magic Circle London, Awarded the Silver Star, International Brotherhood of Magicians UK, International Brotherhood of Magicians USA, International Magicians Society USA, Wolverhampton Circle of Magicians (President 2003/4), Founder Member of Captain Invisible's Occasional Magic Assembly Equity

Some of the stars that Jimbo has opened for were: Ken Dodd 4 years,Billy Pearce 2 years,Joe Pasquale, Vince Hill, The Drifters,Bobby Davro, Bernie Clifton, Ali Bongo
And Danny LaRue.

I am fortunate to have added Jimbo to my world of friends M8's and hopefully will keep him as a friend for many many many years. Jimbo your one of the best.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Please fill me in on how to write comedy routines for kids shows-Timing-Puppet and vent interaction-being Origional with a 3-5 minute routine-How to develope a new Char-Fresg material for the new character..The Character is a turtle, an Aligator, and a wrinkly face type dog...Where does one cull jokes from and if its for a kids show should it be jokes or a 5 min. or more routine. What are the basics of writing funny for children? You are correct in trying to make things character based. I believe that a great way to start is to write a biography about each character. It should be short, but sweet.

Turtle: Was once offered a role in the movie, "Finding Nemo" but turned it down. He decided he didn't want to be an actor. He didn't really want to come out of his shell. Although the above is a joke it is based on the character and his/her experience or life. Add to this the fact that he was once in a play in high school. He played a rock. He hates the phrase, "flat on your back!" (What comedic routine could come from that?) He flunked high school physical education because he never could touch his toes. (But look at my rock hard abs!) His girlfriend? Shelly. His mother is upset with him because he's 23 years old and has never left home.

Rules for kid comedy
1. Keep it short. The rule of thumb is one minute for each year in a child's age. So a 4 year old might be able to handle a 4 minute skit. As the year's go by I've seen that limit decrease. My LONGEST skit is 7 minutes, but most are 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Politically correct. Do the search for "7 things you can't say in kindergarten" on this forum to see what common words should not be in a public skit.
3. Welcome tangents. If you say in a story, "I have a dog" you will spend the next 30-60 seconds hearing the young audience say, "I have a dog! I have a dog! I have a cat! I have a sister." That doesn't mean you shouldn't say it, but be ready for the possible interruptions. As long as the interruptions are centered on what you are doing they are really enhancing the show! (Let me repeat that.) AS LONG AS THE INTERRUPTIONS ARE CENTERED ON WHAT YOU ARE DOING THEY ARE REALLY ENHANCING THE SHOW!
4. Old jokes are new to young kids.
5. Surprise is either funny or scary to kids. I stay away from loud screeches and noises, but you may want them. An example is taking a familiar nursery rhyme or song and changing the lyrics. This makes it funny to the kids! Or take a familiar story and change it. "Goldilocks and the three alligators." What would she try out in an alligator's home? Or the Alligator under the bridge instead of a troll in the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
6. For small audiences allow the kids to pet the animal. I often let them tickle the vinyl orangutan. (Some are allergic to latex so I prefer that they don't touch the latex.) I let them tickle his ankle as they look for a bug that might be in his fur.
7. Expound on the familiar. How would a turtle play hide and seek? Where would he ALWAYS hide? Then call a child up and have them hide while you cover the turtle's eyes.

I know that to make a show complete that all of the above should be incorporated into your performance...How do you build your show and in what order. Is there any set music you use and where do you draw the line on mixed audiences for the music, I am just beginning to learn childrens magic and thank you for the heads up on Mr. Ginn, is there any favorite tricks kids like year after year..I have incorpotated clowning into my show light facial make up, should I be thinking of making up the kids faces too? There once was a ventriloquist who told a story using his vent was the Frog prince, are there other already prepared storyskits that i can use in my shows or is it the same old same old. Thanks for the help...
Coming out of the shell
Is it true that when writing you should deside on a theme, lets use the rabbit as an example...So he is the center theme, then spokes off that center hub could include his favorite food, his hobby...and so forth can you be more what would be a funny line and thats the problem most new writers have desiding whats funny and whats not...
Writing for kids
Tony had some great guidelines there, but to get me started I use what I call the magic "What if" For example "What if Castor (my beaver) wanted to play a sport? What would be funny?" That's how we got our golf routine
"What if Horton wants to be a character in a story?" The Frog Prince and a few Bible story routines came from that.
Rather than just joke and punchline I try to write a situation and find the humour in it.

Great tip
Excellent tip, Neale. I'm sitting here thinking "What if a beaver wanted to play golf."
1. He would use the tee for a toothpick, then chew it up.
2. If he hit in the middle of some trees he would take the time to chew them down.
3. He would purposely aim for the waterhole.
4. Everytime he heard another player yell "Dam" he would say, "It wasn't mine!"
5. His teeth keeping him from yelling "Fore" so he yells, "Watch out" instead.
6. All of his remaining clubs are metal. He has no more wooden heads for some reason.

Terry Wild add his advice What I Do To Create Fun
I try and visualise what would be the most absurd thing for that creature to be, or to do. My favourite puppet is Ax's Croc, whom I call Crikey. My latest story involves Crikey confessing to me he can't swim! So the fun begins when I decide to teach him. Of course all the other swimmers in the pool climb out very fast on seeing Crikey enter the water. So, stuff like that is easy to think about and perform. Why didn't his dad teach him? There are lots of side issues there! How did he come to be delivered to my place, thousands of miles from Duckpoo Swamp? Kids love that sort of thing. I think it's because they identify with the character based on their own life experiences.
Writing a script N J
So First thank you to Terry Neale and Tony for always being there with this great advice..and next I see that when you write as Mark Wade said, you must have a central theme, such as a school playground and the spokes that comes off of it could be ideas like a 'fight' or something happening on the monkey bars boys not mixing with girls, or 'a boy and a girl meet for the first time'(these are my ideas) all this is good..he then said to view these situations threw the eyes of a child, the colors and imagination...this is where I get lost, yeah I know 'so get lost' Tony lets take the writing step by step in the above situation little boy or girl could be on the playground but it could be a wabbit,a snail, a croc, bear, monkey, well you understand I am sure... As they say in the song, lets start at the very beginning know thats a very good place to start.... I bring out a figure, lets say a snail, introduce him to the boys and girls he says where he's from and the beat goes on.......
Snail on a playground
The way I write is to jot down some ideas and then try to incorporate them into a skit. Here are some initial thoughts on a snail on a playground. "I'm always the last one chosen for relay races." "I always get in trouble after recess. The teacher says it takes me too long to come back to class." "There is a little girl that I like. But I'm shy." "You need to come out of your shell." "They always find me first at hide and seek. They follow my slime trail." "I don't eat lunch with the other kids if there is salt on the table." "The kids love me on rainy days. They use my antennae to get a good reception and we watch television." "I don't use email. We still use snail mail." "I got a letter from my cousin. He is coming to visit. He should be here in a few years." "I'm really good at slow pitch softball." "I'm really good at freeze tag. I move so slowly that I always look frozen." "The coach wants me to go out for the track team. The other school's track team!"
Writing skits/routines
So If when I write I am to use the char and put him into a situation and write how the figure would fit or not fit into that situation...
Another example could be a Chimp without any paticular situation, he is a little slow, what ever he does the kids in the aud mimic, I blow up a balloon ask him to hold it...ask him how he's doing, he answers and lets the balloon go and it travels all around the room...the balloon is blown up a few different times with various slap stick happenings, with me getting slapped a few times by him, him if I was to do this kind of stuff how do I writ it into a routine, with various axtell animals gettinvolved at different times...Lets go to the next step...
Robin add some stuff
How to write for you puppets
How I learned to write for my shows it to take my puppet shopping with me. When I do that I am forced to make conversation with the kids and come up with on the spot personality, conversation and situations.I get ideas by what the kids say and do and ask the puppet. I look at cloths (for the puppet) and try them on her or him. I make the puppet appear as real as possible so people look to see if its real (easy to do with Axtell puppets). I go to Wal-Mart, and the local food stores, (be prepared to not get anything else done). I made the mistake of taking an old rat puppet with me to the store and was asked to leave! A lady freaked out she thought it was real and it took 2 people to calm her down.LOL ( I was pretty good at moving it like a rat) Watch out when you take your puppet to the street, it might cause accidents when people rubber neck, been there too! Have fun, don't even buy a puppet unless you fall in love with it and see it's personality already,It will be a great puppet sitting in your studio but not used. I did this with one and gave it away 2 times and they still don't know what to do with it, (cause it was my puppet not their idea, even though the puppet was awesome). Now I wish I had it back!
Watch others act and get tidbits of ideas or conversation and make it your own... Dont copy make it original. If you arent sold on the joke or personality no one else will buy it either. YOU must fall in love with each of your puppets! Ribbons the clown/ventriloquist Ribbons the clown Rev. Robin E. Bremer
Author of "Feed My People Joy" available at, www.Barnes& coming to a bookstore near you.
Another thought from Robin
Jokes are great but a lot of ventriloquist just SAY the joke and that is it. A joke has to be delivered.... from the personality of the vent or puppet. It matters how you say it, The tilt of your head the naturalness of your body language. Did you pause for the laugh, the funny body movement you did with the puppet. The reaction of the puppet or you! Do NOT repeat what the puppet says! It is not natural! Some vents repeat EVERY LINE the puppet says and that's annoying and not normal or funny. HAVE A CONVERSATION, react and react use your whole body.I visualize me and my puppet having the conversation they I write down what I see INCLUDING what body movements she will do when she says that line. YOU ARE AN ACTOR and comedian.
1. I get an idea for a skit,
2. I practice it over in my head till I get the whole idea.
3. I write the basic line.
4. I practice sitting on my bed with my puppet and paper, (to memorize lines) I make edits and correction.
5. I practice it in front of the mirror. ( you can get stuck here and watch yourself instead of having a conversation)
6. I put away the mirror and practice it in front of the camera.
7. Do it in front of my husband. (3rd party gives me ideas how to move the puppet better or change a line)
8. PRACTICE PRACTICE until I can ENJOY doing it without thinking!
Thats how I come up and prefect a new idea for a show.
Hope this helps Ribbons the clown Rev. Robin E. Bremer
Author of "Feed My People Joy" available at, www.Barnes& coming to a bookstore near you.
Continuing with writing December 26 2010, 8:25 AM
Another thought from me
Maximizing Punch lines..what do you do to maximize your punch lines...remembering that the figure is the funny comedian.You the vent paint the picture your puppet derails you... Every day in every situation there is something or someone that made you laugh...what are a few examples of situations that have occured to you? I have gotten into a habit of carrying a small note pad because if I didn't and got home trying to remember the joke I tell you I couldn't...what are some other methods..
Do you add singing to your show how has that worked for you? Maybe like me magic is part of your show...what are some ways you have adhanced your show by writing into it new stuff?
Where do you get your comedy material from...Do you steal it, like milton berle buy it like many comedians have or do you write your own and in what style. Sit com, one line jokes or do you pick a subject and back and forth set up punch line?
when writing for a figure who is it?. What's its background? What's his preferences? Make a list of your likes and dislikes on one side of a page and list of the figures likes and dislikes on the other and compare.. Why does he have them, what causes them? How will the figure react to situations thrown at him? More to follow

oops! Tony you always have great stuff to say
I re-read your post and you have some great tips for people to develop their scripts. If we each do what you have suggested we will come out with stronger characters. I have mentioned in the past that Jim Adams of "James and the Professor" recommends watching television with one's character and carrying on a conversation. (Don't try this at a movie theater as people around you will get upset.)
Likewise, I have seen vents walking around with their character and talking with them even when there isn't an audience. I have even seen people in Sacramento walking around talking to themselves when they had no puppet! (But that's another story.)
Famous comics
Most comedians keep a file system of jokes. In books they are usually categorized. "Golf" "Politics", etc. So I assume they use a similar method. I was in Goodwill yesterday during their after Christmas half price sale. They had Steve Allen's private file of jokes. (No longer private since he published it.) The problem with most joke books is that they are not character driven. You're lucky to get a dozen usable jokes out of the hundreds written inside. I think it is better to build on the character of the puppet. Then something that is said is funny because of who said it. Garfield is a great example. It takes awhile to figure out his character and the strip seems unfunny until you do. Once you do then it is fantastic.
This means that you need a bit of character intro for audiences as well. Edgar Bergen used a slow fanfare for Mortimer Snerd. He established Mortimer's limited intelligence very quickly in each script then went on to the funny character based lines.
Here are some character "traits" that drove past stars:
Jack Benny was cheap. "Your money or your life, Mister!" (I'm thinking about it!)
Rodney Dangerfield got no respect. "My parents gave me a radio for a bath toy."
Edgar Bergen was seen by Charlie McCarthy as cheap. "All my shirts have a hole in the back!"
Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy always wanted to help, but it would invariably backfire.
Frank Burns in MASH was an adulterous hypocrite whom everyone loved to hate. His many funny story lines would come from getting his due. (In my opinion he had one of the best TV characters of all time, but it must have been very difficult to play. Larry Linville, who played him, was a well respected actor even though his character was universally disliked because he played him so well.)
In modern comedies you have Charlie Sheen's womanizing character and his backward, though intellighent brother in Two and a Half Men.
Monk is obsessive compulsive and filled with phobias, but also driven by the storyline of a murdered wife.
So a good goal is to streamline your character's description.
"This is my bear, Gladly the Grizzly. He loves food and sleep, but not necessarily in that order."
"This is Sally. She is a child psychologist who is actually a child. She helps her friends understand their world."
"This is Leo the Lion. He's a scaredy cat who thinks his tail is a giant bug trying to bite him."
"This is Magic Monkey. He THINKS he can do magic. (All of his tricks are plays on word.) Ex. "I can say two magic words that will make this volunteer disappear."
What are the two words? "Go home!" Ex. 2 "I can make that man's hair disappear. Hair BE GONE!" His hair is still there. "Wait for it." Nothin happened. "You have to wait a long time."
Write for kids shows...
When I enter my show after playing some intro music to to warm up the children yes and the adults as well..I enter with one of my figures if possible through a back door and work through the aud up to the stage area...It could be the Chimp, My bear, any of the larger figures intermingle with the children..stop for a picture or two announce to the kids who they just met and bring out another figure when I get there, possbibly the story teller, have him do a short routine, if the theme is Jungle Jay he will ask the kids to make sounds of different animals, or he might ask for a few vol to come up to the stage and we place different animal noses on them and I will discribe the animal, very discretely and have them say which animal and make its noise, there is no losers each vol gets a gift, and then some magic and balloonie toons depending on the show or party some musical chairs which might include one of the figures, and try to make him lose right away and he goes into his sob story of why he lost and I tell the kids that its not right to be a party pooper, but a good player because there are no losers...
If you were to write this into a routine on paper how would it be discribed? Would you include puns, cliche's or idioms we are talking first about children ages 3-6 then 6-8 and lastly 8-11 Is it wise to write three different routines for the different age groups...My routines are short because I have found that the kids like to be more involved with action such as musical relay games, musical chairs ect. My question is what works for you? I guess the question here is not only what to write but
HOW DO I PREVENT THE ROUTINE FROM BECOMING BORING??? What I mean is how do you go about keeping it interesting?
How to Write a routine More ideas into writing
I have found it safe to carry a pad and pen or a tape recorder to not lose a joke Imight have heard- because I am the type who would forget the joke before I got home if I left it to memory.No matter what age group the joke is geared to. I then rewrite the joke to have it fit into a routine for children, I have heard some jokes meant for adults and completely revamped it and it became a funny childrens no matter what you hear it is usable if you gut it and replace it with a new engine that fits a childs mind. I am sure I am not the only one that does this..anyone Else have other ideas for writing for children?
Here is a good example:With a traffic jam situation
F My dad said he was in a traffic JAM..V-Oh I am so sorry for him F-why... he said he had his coffee and toast
F-were you ever in a traffic jam-V yes I was in one this morning F was it sticky?
F-Are we there yet V-no were bumper to bumper F-Oh are we going to play bumper cars...
Seems puns work well for younger children, but it has to be boom boom boom set up punch line rapid fire...
jam In the traffic jam my Dad's car got bumped. He was glad because he needed "ajar"! Or He was in a jam so he made his door ajar.
Neale add some more thought Another reason to come to Venthaven December This is the kind of subject that comes up at Venthaven convention. I remember Tom Ladshaw did a great lecture on adding punch to the punchline, and Dan Horn did a whole workshop on using puns in your routines.I have re-read their lecture notes many times.
To pun or not to pun
Puns are considered the cheapest sort of humor. That puts them in my price range. I know we have a past forum topic on puns. "Punishment" "Pun"itive damage.
But they can be useful. The movie "Tangled" is actually the story of Ra-PUN-zel, for example. I think they work great for certain puppets whose character would be likely to use a pun.
On the other hand, a little go a LONG way. Too many and the audience will be ready to yell back at you with their own better versions.
puns *#%@ Puns... hmmmm... let's see. I think puns can be fine to use in a performance. Distinctions need to be made, however. The challenge is to be clever with their use. Worn out, over used punnery is why the word "hackneyed" is not a compliment. Effective humor should get a laugh or even a smile from the audience... NOT A GROAN! Some say "A groan is as good as a laugh". You could also say "Dirt is as good as a dollar" - doesn't make it true. One groan, maybe - but groans to me are buyer's remorse for people who didn't pay to get in.
It's good if puns are not all one has to offer as a professional entertainer. And if you're clever in the use of puns, Jeff Dunham can never say you stole his material.
Off the cuff from Sleve Petra
Steve, If "Dirt is as good as a dollar" does that make farmers filthy rich?
Words from my dodo My Axtell dodo gave some wise advice. If given EGGStemperaneously and not EGGSorbitantly, puns can be an EGGSiting addition. Try not to be EGGStravagent or your audience will be EGGSasperated! I told him his advice was for the birds! (Above you have a clever use and a poor use of puns, depending on the age of your audience.)
That's not punny! I grew up quite a pun lover, and really liked the pun humor of the older comedians like Rip Taylor . When I got into entertaining and making puppets, especially animal puppets, the puns were a natural for quick jokes and tying some cheap dialog to specific animal or character. About 20 years ago at a Vent Haven Convention Jeff asked me to help write a routine, along with Mark Wade for a new character he was going to perform with that night. I wish I could remember what it was, but I began prolifically writing a long string of puns. Jeff who we all now know is at the top of the comedy game, stopped me and said, I'm after more character driven humor. It made me very aware that "character" is another layer over top of the puppet. Personality and situational driven humor is where the real comedy and funniest laughs are. I still mix the puns in but more sparingly. Ax
Writing for children
I think there is a slight difference when putting together a childrens show...There is still a lot of preperation..there is a lot of music, and entrance routine (a lot of which could be adlibbed) a short routine getting me to my platform (stage area)to work with a second figure, some ballonie toons, some magic, a relay race for the kids, another figure (generally saving the best for last) But if its parties my question here would be what to talk about, or should I refrain from talking and stay with lots of audience involvement? and then to close with a fairy tale using...I know many of you who do childrens shows have some feed back and I look for any imput here....Tony I have put a lot of effort in the things you've said here as well as Steve Petra's great skill, maybe i just might reach a level of your calibre before i reach pubity.. AX I find that many times when I just walk in with your puppets the ooohhhs and aaaahhhhs begin..Thank you for those great figures...I just don't know where I will be going with this years sellections, but thats not the subject we are discussing writing routines, wish Mark Wade was reading this...
in defense of the much maligned but not puny pun
I have only two words to say... Veterinarian Hospital!
Steve Axtell Now that's Punny!
Yes....Puns play good when the routine it's short and intentionally puns for puns sake. Veterinarian Hospital was indeed great as a stand alone segment, but if the entire Muppet Show had been built on a steady string of puns it wouldn't have had the life it had. Solid character and situational comedy driven comedy made it hit. Kermit was a frog, but he wasn't based on frog jokes or puns....his staying power was his well developed kind insecure self (character) amidst the chaos of crazy critters putting on a show (situation). My point is just base your comedy writing on character and situations first, then if a few puns fit in, go for it. Ax

Friday, January 7, 2011


"While I was out horsin' around the ventriloquist world a few days back, I stumbled onto this feller named Wild Ol' Dan. Reckon you could say that he's a grizzled ol' cowhand from way, way back. Anyways, I got to readin' some of his stuff...and, it seemed to me, there was a lotta horse sense in it. So I asked him if we might share some of it over here. Here's what he said..."
Howdy N Jay Holtz,
All this stuff is super top secret stuff ya know? Still, it might be kinda fun to have a little section titled "From Outta Wild Ol' Dan's Saddlebags..."
But, you could probably find somebody a whole lot smarter than this ol' cowhand to add stuff to your site. Shucks, there's some
real high class folks out thar wanderin' around...
Reckon it's up to you pard. If ya use my stuff just tell the folks this is from Wild Ol' Dan...that way you wont get blamed for nuthin'...
The way I see it us ol' timers had oughta be helpin' the newer
fellers figure out some of this 'em to see there's somethin' more to all this than "not movin' your lips."
If ya decide to use this stuff just let me know ya did...reckon
I'd kinda like to read it too. It's good for my ego don'tcha know?
Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.

Howdy Dan, My gosh thanks for welcomin' me to this here outfit... I reckon I've been interested in ventriloquism since I was a wee youngun way back in the ancient times. Just celebrated my 60th Christmas... Anyways, speakin' of those ancient times...I grew up around the Detroit area...and in those parts, well, I reckon just about everybody knew ol' Sagebrush Shorty. You put a picture of those mystery things...askin' folks to identify the ventriloquist and his figure. Then you said the ventriloquist was Ted Lloyd which was right...and the figure was Sagebrush Shorty which was wrong. You see this feller Ted Lloyd, well HE was Sagebrush Shorty and that thar figure you showed on his lap was none other than BRONCO BILLY BUTTONS. Sagebrush's most popular figure was none other than Skinny Dugan. (A wonderful McElroy figure that he bought from Mrs. Maher after Fred, Skinny's original partner, went on ahead. Skinny is now owned by a feller named Jeff Dunham.) Anyways, I saw Sagebrush and Skinny live and in person once...what a joy that was. Skinny did just about everything he could do...includin' wigglin' his ears, his nose, spittin', cryin', his hair stood up, and he could make faces at ya...shucks, even his nose turned red when he told a lie! There is a great DVD out these days called I'M NO DUMMY. On it, one of the Bonus Features is Jeff Dunham showin' Skinny and all that he can do. What a delight...especially for those of us who remember the great Sagebrush Shorty (Ted Lloyd) and those days a long, long time ago... Anyways, thanks again, pard... Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol' Dan

Howdy Pards, Well...I've added a couple photos to a brand new photo album back yonder celebratin' Ted Lloyd aka "Sagebrush Shorty". In one you'll see Skinny Dugan, Sagebrush Shorty, and Bronco Billy Buttons together. As I mentioned earlier Skinny Dugan (2) was originally owned by Fred Maher, founder of the famous Maher Home Study Course in Ventriloquism. Jeff Dunham, Skinny's new owner, estimates that Skinny was made around 1936 by the famous McElroy Brothers. The McElroy Brothers sold their famous figures through the Abbotts Magic Catalog...for, are you ready for this? $125. Course, that was back in the 1930's...I can't wait to get this here time machine of mine workin'... Well, anyways...Skinny is celebratin' mor'n seventy years in show business. Jeff calls him the stratovarius of ventriloquist figures and I couldn't agree with him more. I'm sure if Jeff used him in his act today, he would become a super star once he was for all of us who knew him when he worked with Sagebrush up thar in Detriot City all those years ago. Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol' Dan
Hi Wild O'Dan
Thanks for your additions to our group. I just wanted to correct a couple things. I have an original Abbott's Catalogue #4 which is the only one to show pictures of the McElroy figures and it is dated 1937. The price listed in the catalogue for the extra special figure, which was the fully loaded figure, was $115.00. This was for the figure that has garnered the name Troll.This price also included the case. The subsequent figures sold by the brothers including Sagebrush was after that so it was made in more than likely 1939-1940. You can see this catalogue listed on Ventriloquist Central site under the Ventriloquist Central Collection / McElroy figures.Dan

Howdy Pards,
Ya know, I spose it would be kinda foolish to think that you could play the violin the very first time you picked one up. It's an instrument that takes some study to play correctly. Quite a bit of study and practice as a matter of fact.
I reckon I always think of a puppet or ventriloquist figure in much the same way as I would a musical instrument. It takes some study to play it correctly. Quite a bit of study and practice as a matter of fact.
Does that mean you should never try? Of course not. But, it does mean that before you perform for an audience you should put in some serious time with the big mirror...and practice, practice, practice.
I think it is important...just as important... to watch BAD ventriloquists it is the great ones. You can learn a lot from each. Trust me.
And, believe me, I've seen some bad ones. Really bad ones. The only thing those performers didn't lack was "self confidence".
In fact...some seemed to be least a little you might say by an out of control ego.
Study these things. If you see a really bad ventriloquist down as soon as you possibly can all the things that made it bad. I'm serious. It is very important to know, not only the things that make an act very good...but also the things that make an act very bad.Never pour cold water on someone else's dream. But, learn all you can as you pursue your own dream...Ventriloquism is truly an entertainment art form in the right hands. Learn the details...all of the details...that are involved in a quality performance.
Don't take the easy way... I've seen it time and time again, bad performer uses shocking language or behavior to get a laugh...that kind of thing simply makes folks cringe.
Respect your audience, respect your art...get respect for your performance the old fashioned way...that right...earn it.
When you step to the microphone in front of an audience make sure
you are prepared to give them your absolute best. It will take time...but the results will be worth it.
Do you care enough about what you are doing to only deliver the very best? Think about that as you get your act together...and learn from both the good, the bad, and the ugly... Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol' Dan

Howdy Pards,Ya know, there's a big difference in the desire for the spotlight and the desire to entertain. A big difference indeed...
Some folks get started doin' ventriloquism just cause they want folks to look at 'em. They need attention. I reckon they are the kinds of folks who use the words ME, and I, and MY just a wee bit too much...
Others look at ventriloquism as a way of bringing laughter, smiles,imagination and fun into the lives of others. I suppose the big word for all this is "motivation".
And, I suppose it's important for each of us to take a good hard look at what motivates why we do this you might say.
Twas the feller who wrote Peter know, James M. Barrie...yep, twas him that said, "Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves."
Now, any entertainer will tell you that applause is a wonderful thing. Makes ya feel good all over to know that they liked whatcha did. That's natural.
But, did ya ever see an entertainer who seemed to just expect applause? No matter how good or bad his or her performance was... I have...and trust me, you can tell the difference.
I believe you have to have one goal in mind when you walk out on that stage...and it should not be a selfish one. Nope. Your goal should be to make that audience happy, to bring them joy, laughter, and fun...and to always leave'em wantin' more.
So all that effort you're puttin' in...all that practice...all that hard work...and turns out it ain't about YOU at all. It's about them.Bringing happiness to OTHER people.
Know your audience. Know their needs, wants, and desires. Care about them...and give them your absolute best EVERY time. If you want to be an entertainer...ya gotta know that YOU need that audience. They are the most important people in the world to you as an entertainer because they are the ones you are hoping to entertain.
Do your act for them. And give them your very best. Every time. And, if you may hear the sweetest sound an entertainer can possibly hear at the end of your act...the sweet, sweet sound of genuine, heartfelt, real, honest-to-gosh applause.
Taint nuthin' better in all the world. Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail.
Wild Ol' Dan

Howdy Pards,Well I'm smack dab in the middle of readin' Jeff Dunham's new book...
which is NOT titled the Life and Times of Jeff Dunham. Nope, It's titled JEFF DUNHAM ALL BY MY SELVES WALTER, PEANUT, ACHMED, AND ME.
Would I recommend it to Jeff Dunham fans and ventriloquists in general? Yup!
Do I think it's an inspirational story of someone who followed his dreams and made it? Yup! Do I think you will be an even bigger Jeff Dunham fan after you read
this book? Yup! On the back cover of the dust jacket Jeff says...
"Many people would call my life crazy.
I say it's refreshingly unconventional. But whatever you call it, it's all thanks to a trunk full of dummies. I've been pursuring this career since my first performance as a ventriloquist at age eight. Before lunchtime on that particular school day in 1971, I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life...."
And inside that dust cover...on the back flap...there is a summary
of Jeff's career so far...
"JEFF DUNHAM is a comedian and ventriloquist whose record breaking specials on Comedy Central launched a global phenomenon of sold-out live concerts, DVD sales, and consumer products. A frequent guest on THE TONIGHT SHOW and LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, he remains the only person to ever win the prestigious ventriloquist of the Year award twice. In 2009 he was named the top grossing live comedy act in the world by POLLSTAR, and TIME magazine called him the most popular comedian in the United States. In 1980, his high school chose him as Most Likely to Succeed, but he's pretty sure that playing with dolls doesn't really count. Dunham regularly plays to arena-sized crowds in North America, Europe, and Australia. He has three beautiful daughters and lives in Los Angeles." had oughta get this book...I found mine at Barnes and Noble...Has anyone else out thar read it yet?
Adios for now. Talk to ya on down the trail. Wild Ol' Dan

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Anyone who will be celebrating the event of All Hallows share with us here what you did to celebrate thei year. Eric and I went to a fun night at a friends place and then we hit the casinos/arcades. Fun was had by all.