Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dorkin It Up

Lately I can safely say I have been getting my groove back. For months I had felt dead inside. I was putting away some decent sets, but was kind of phoning things in. My act was so memorized that I just did it. A lot of times I was like, okay, here are my jokes. They were always saying I had been on TV and blah blah blah like it mattered.

It wasn't that I was lazy, the last several months have just burnt me. As I said I have been dead inside. I went to a magazine party, and this magazine had done a nice story on me. It was the day after I had the test to determine whether or not I had cancer. Everyone was really cool, but I was just in some fog like someone who's faced eviction, a bad breakup, and now might be dying of an asymptomatic female cancer. Everyone was swapping cards and I was just glad I had a roof over my head and wasn't puking blood.......yet.

Then the sets I did, they were decent but not my best work. Plus I was going too hard for the shock laugh. It wasn't even my fault. I wasn't even being lazy. Every piece of energy I had was gone. When an audience didn't do that I wanted I went for the cheap laugh, and hadn't done that since I had been a kid. I was just so burnt. Yeah, my young audiences loved it because they didn't know any better, and the free spots that I was doing didn't demand a high standard. I had been on TV. I had enjoyed that brass mini ring long before my world came tumbling down. Now I was content to yuck it up in a basement.

Even when I scored the mentor I did I still felt dead inside. We had the chat about my rating and blah, blah, blah. My rating. I promised him I would watch videos of Abbot and Costello and I did......kindof.....when I wasn't busy feeling sorry for myself. Yeah, self-pity, that thing that we indulge in and the thing that cripples us all at once.

But this past weekend changed everything. I didn't want to go and feared it would be a disaster. My friend told me to do it because I needed to focus on comedy again. She was sick and tired of hearing about my eviction and legal drama. She was tired of hearing about the break up drama. She was tired of hearing about how I thought I had cancer. She even told me that if I tanked, it was at least it was going to get me focused on comedy again.

"God is telling you that this is what you should be doing with your life." My friend advised me.

"Or this is the weekend where He shows me I don't have it," I whined.

Needless to say I ate it really hard my first night. But someone was on hand to help me. Someone who knew what they were talking about, and someone who's input and suggestions made all the difference between one night to the next. Needless to say, my first set the following night consisted of huge laughs and even some applause. It was a world of difference. The following set was okay, but not as good as the one I did before. I was more peeved about that than I was about my bad set for some reason. My mentor said I am too hard on myself. But I am an act who either does really good or really bad, doing just okay feels like decaf coffee.......tastes nice but doesn't quite do it.

One thing that helped was the stool. Yes, there is a stool ventriloquists use. I never did use one, because when I was young I enjoyed roving the streets with my children and travelling onstage. However, there was always the issue of dead hang. Yes, the limp body of my babies. And not to mention your hand gets tired. I thought of propping my knee up and letting my kids sit on there, but sometimes I like to perform in skirts and well........

But the stool this weekend made all the difference. So much so that I spent the Monday looking for a stool for my puppets and I. Something to make it easier for them to sit, and something to make it easier for them to seem more real. I called the buddy suggesting I go on the road about my weekend and told her about my mission. She tried hard not to laugh. Her dork friend was back.

I finally broke down and ordered it online after not getting what I needed at the magic shops. My children and I needed a stool. We were getting one from a ventriloquist dealer. Never have I been so excited in such a very long time. I know, weird things excite me.

And as suggested this weekend, I have been practicing in front of my mirror, but rather filming myself so I kill my bad habits. I have been running my new material, a cleaner, wittier version, and performing it over and over again. I want my technique solid before I hit the ground running. In a few days, when I get my stool I will be practicing with that too.

In between, I have been watching the best ventriloquists. Willie Tyler and Lester are amazing, and he puts the mic on Lester creating the illusion that he was real. Otto was the first to admit his lip control was not the best when he was alive, and I know having worked with the man twice, However, the way he masterfully made George come alive is unparalleled and the way he operates the character, after a while you start to entertain the fact George is alive. Dan Horn and Steve Hewlett have voice throwing ability beyond the pale, and something I have yet to have. Paul Zerdin is amazing, enough said. And of course lest we forget Edgar Bergen, the father of all venting, the one who's lip control laxed when he did radio. But Bergen's character's were real, and when the audience didn't give him what he wanted he just kept going. Eventually, after a few beats they did. You never saw Edgar, Charlie McCarthy, or Mortimer Snerd sweat.

Did I mention Jeff Dunham is amazing, and quite entertaining?

And yeah, I am eagerly watching Abbot and Costello as a guide post on how to write.

So the verdict is in. I am a dork. Everyone around me thinks I have lost my mind as I showed my landlord his first Otto and George today and he thinks they are funny. I tell my mom about my stool and she's like, "Baby, you do that," because she agrees but thinks I have gone CRAZY!


Hey, being a dork might make me a dork but it sure as hell beats feeling sorry for myself. Being a dork is constructive.......

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