We take a little bit of time almost everyday to watch videos of performances that are out the internet.
We love watching the many creative performers that make their living entertaining folks with puppets. We also get a kick out of watching some of them who are not quite as good. We are all at different levels of development, and therefore we should all be striving to perfect our art form and become just a little better. Of course the most important way to do that is to practice, practice, practice. Then we can watch others. We may see things when watching others that are obviously in need of improvement. Only when we see the problems in other performers can we sometimes realize that we are guilty of the same mistakes.
It’s not about just seeing someone else and spotting a mistake, but taking what we see and learning from it to improve on our own performances.
I have watched several videos lately that have a weakness that needs to be highlighted. POSTURING. Yes you must have basic vent skills, but the best vent in the world will look like far less of a performer if his/her character is sprawled all over the stand like a deformed Octopus.
Divide your attention just a little bit more. Keep one eye on what your puppet is doing with the rest of his/her/its body. Make sure the legs are not backward or hanging off the side of the stand. We all know that the little fellas have minds of their own, and it is up to us to keep them in check and behaving correctly.
The easiest way to do this is to set them on the stand and hold perfectly still. Unfortunately this also makes for a lifeless performance so it is the wrong way to go about it. You can also gain performance advantage if your character appears to have a problem.
Case in point. Watch Jeff with Achmed. Achmeds feet are at times constantly rotating backwards. It looks like an embarrassing mistake, but it always happens when Jeff wants it to. It is funny because it looks like Achmed is falling apart, and therefore it adds to the humor of the character. Make no mistake. It is part of the act and Jeff is thoroughly in control of when it happens.
However, for the most part, you MUST be in control of all aspects of the puppet.
Until next time,
Steve and JET