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 Jones..as 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.
Monday, July 18, 2011
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 70s.is 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.