Friday, November 10, 2006

This is perhaps the most responsive Friday night audience I can remember in this run. It was a wonderful experience to be on stage tonight with the energy of this audience and a great way to begin the grind of a four-show weekend.

Being a one man show I have to wear several hats over the course of a performance, actor, comedian, storyteller, teacher, host and, of course, ventriloquist. Over the several hundred performances of this show I have adjusted to quick “head gear” changes. Tonight was a performance when one genre overlapped with another. I will try to give you a sense of the experience, mainly to clarify it in my own analysis.

Most of the time, especially while performing with my wooden partners, I have to be intently aware of the audience. If something happens in the audience, one of my characters will jump on that moment immediately with an adlib. For example there was a very deep resonating and unusual laughter coming from the balcony during Darwin’s routine tonight. With out even a thought from me personally, Darwin said, “It sounds like a Moose in heat up there.” It is a phenomenon I have gotten used to over the years of being a ventriloquist. The character’s reality often supersedes my own at times like this. It is the art of the craft. It might seem schizophrenic to some, to me it is just another day at the office.

At the end of the show I have to do an emotionally taxing acting scene. No puppet characters, just me. The actor/Jay has to find a place far from what is happening in the audience and guide them to another experience that happened long ago. It was during that scene tonight when someone made a loud noise. I am still not sure what it was, a groan, a sigh, a yawn, an emotional outburst, I will never really know. It did, however, break my concentration in a weird way; the actor for a moment became the ventriloquist.

Immediately after registering the sound in my brain and unknown to the audience, I hear five different voices, from five different characters begging for expression, each with an adlib to rebuff the noise. There was no puppet with me or one of the voices would have found an outlet. It would have been a mental knee jerk reaction. It was only moment on stage, but an eternity in my inter-dialogue when I finally realized there would be no adlib in this situation. I had to get on with the scene. It took a few more seconds to become the actor again; I stumbled on a word or two. Perhaps the audience was not aware. But I was aware and know I muffed an important scene, and this terrific audience deserved better.

If this were film or television there would be an immediate retake. It would need to be fixed. Not here and not tonight, this is live theater. That is what we love isn’t it? It has never happened before and it may never happen again. We play the cards that are dealt with no control over all situations. Every show will be different from all others as long as we do it live. I guess I just love the challenge, and tomorrow we face the unknown again.
As you were,


Anonymous said...

It was an awesome show! I loved the melding of the history of ventriloquism with the science of illusion with the artistry of the "reanimation" of the cast of non-Jay characters. (My thesis was about the neuroscience of illusions, although in this case it was visual illusions and not auditory ones.) The weird noise coming from the audience was, well, weird--it was very distracting. I just saw Jay's responsiveness to it as a sign of how connected he is with his audience!

Bravo! Bravo! Bravissimo.
and thanks again! -Michelle.

Anonymous said...

My face still hurts from smiling throughout your entire show. I loved it sooo much! Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us! Best of luck! I will be telling all of my friends about your show.

MoonDog said...

What did the different voices want to say? Can you share that with us?

Anonymous said...

hi Jay! I saw the show last night and loved it!!!! I've already told all of my friends about it and If they don't go themseleves I'm going to bring them. I will be coming back soon! I LOVE it! I met you after the show (I asked you what Shari Lewis was like?) Thank you for making a life long dream come true! I was hoping you were going to use Squeaky a little more. Even though I understand why you didn't.

"It was during that scene tonight when someone made a loud noise"

I thought you didn't hear it! It was this little 4 or 5 year old spoiled brat who made that yawn/sigh while everyone else was crying. He was bad during the whole show. Rattleing candy bags, whining because his brother told him the things in the back were boxes and not candy, kicking the back of the seat, and other things. But I just ignored him. I'm sorry that happened to you! I will be coming again very soon!

Thank you!

the other one said...

Michelle was right - this was an awesome performance. The energy went through the roof! I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be present and share the experience among friends.

V said...
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Devin said...

I saw the show on Friday, and the moose in heat comment absolutely floored me, that was a terrific little bit of ad-libbing right there.

It was an amazing show, and one that I'll certainly never forget. You've inspired me to learn ventriliquism. I've already been performing with a muppet for several years, but I've always relied on distraction to keep the audience from realizing that I move my lips. Now, though, I'm determined to learn to perform without it. I bought a pair of Spaulding Eyes, so I'll be able to practice anywhere, and keep my puppet in my pocket. You've inspired me, and I'll always be grateful for that.