Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Older Voice...

Vaudevillians became so good at their act because... they were always doing the same act.  They perfected their act, their skill and their talents by repeating the act and changing audiences. It is the subject of a separate blog but the best piece of advice I ever got was from Ted Knight.  Before he played Ted Baxter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" he was a performing ventriloquist.  At age 13 or 14, I met him while he was doing his act at a trade show in Lubbock, Texas.  He said, "Perform for as many audiences as often you can."
Vaudeville was perfect for that training. You did multiple shows all over the country for different audiences all the time. Your act became a well timed piece of theatre with every nuance polished to perfection. You perfected the act by changing the audience. I found theme parks. It was perfect for me and what I wanted to do.  I my show  "Jay Johnson:The Two and Only"  I recall the time I did 918 shows one summer at Six Flags over Georgia.
But that was Vaudeville history. And probably theme park history now.  Today the concept is to perfect the audience by continually changing the act.
Recently I posted a routine with SQUEAKY and me from an early HBO special. Perhaps 10 years later I performed a version of that routine with Bob.   Ruth Buzzi jumps into the middle. The sound is not very good but here is another accidental find.

It is interesting to me to watch the routines brought together by the miracle of old tape collectors and YouTube. Sort of a weird time machine where I am more observer than participant.  Bob never has done the "Great Figaro Challenge" but it may be time to find an orchestra that will let him try.
As you were,


Marsha said...

I've got to make this suggestion to you, Mr. Johnson. I've noticed this similarity too many times now and feel you could add a blockbuster smash hit to your many talents. Everyone knows these characters... You bear an uncanny resemblance to William Shatner, aka CAPTAIN KIRK of STAR TREK. "Squeaky" or "Bob" would look great with a Vulcan haircut & a pair of ears. There are also TRIBBLES which could be suddenly talking. Anyway, I saw your YOUTUBE video tonight and it hit me again how PERFECT you resembled JAMES T. KIRK. Thank you, Marsha ( a former Trekkie with a Master's Degree - so you don't think I'm just another goof ... Can send copies of my BME & MM degrees)

P. Grecian said...

You were right about sound quality. I had to lean in close and squint (You know, so as to hear better), but I was, once again, impressed with your technique and rapid voice changes. Regular folks are entertained...fellow ventriloquists (like me) are both entertained...and stunned.