Mark Wade Writes:


I often go to conferences and observe people buying puppet after puppet and wonder, "What are they going to do with them?" They already have some pretty good looking characters (I've seen them with the vent), but they don't seem to get the mileage out of them that they should. What is the missing ingredient? I feel it's comedy material.
The best puppet or figure in the world will just be another puppet or figure unless they have something special to say. And it seems that is the last thing the vent tries out. Maybe they feel the character itself will carry the routine on its looks. Maybe they figure they can dig up some jokes on the Internet. It's a mystery to me.
My advice is to spend some time developing the character ON PAPER before actually buying a new partner. Write some dialogue ... see what works ... know the character's personality so that the material fits. I know that writing good material is one, if not THE hardest thing to do. But don't let it slide.
Just because it's a dog puppet doesn't mean you run out and find a handful of unrelated dog jokes and string something together. It has to flow and it must be easy to follow, and smooth to the ears of the audience. In other words, it can't sound like unrelated jokes. Your dialogue should tell a story ... it should have a beginning, a middle and an end to it. People love storytelling, so give them something funny to listen to that tells the story of the puppet's victories or defeats. You'll be happier with your results and the audience will too!


  1. Excellent advice, Mark. Thank you!

  2. It's quite true what mr. Wade writes. I myself do have some characters now (and some dialog-material) but realised this morning: you have to live with your figure's, they must become family to you and you must figure out a story for each character.
    One little issue: it's also big fun to create a collection/village of different figure's.

  3. Anonymous3/23/2011

    Guilty as charged! I have a number of purchased dummies & number I have made (all very different - a boy, an orangutan, a baby, a robot etc). I have not been performing for a while now and I often wonder whether I am still a performer or am I now more a collector or a designer/inventor. Mark's article has challenged my "need" to have just one more friend for that elusive show..........I think he is right on the mark - writing (or altering) good material is HARD work. Ihe challenge now, for me, is to write material for ALL my "friends" and get performing!!

  4. Great Advice Mark, I do appreciate all you contribute to Mr. D.'s sight, to Maherstudios and to the Ventriloquist development into a better future for all.
    A couple weeks ago, my mabors relative passed away. My nabor had 2 kids over, that were decendents of the passing, anyway,Everyone was down, and were haveing problems dealinmg with the greaf. Someone mentioned that I do Ventriloquist work, and rthat I was good( That is another Story ) Anyway, I wnnt home and got a couple og my Ventriloquist Puppets that I made and before it was over, I had over a dozen puppets over there, the little girl really enjoyed the show as well as the rest of the company, I even showed one of your videos, and gave the kids one of the Vents Figure Puppets as a gift, I also let them have the D.V.D so I will be ordering another maybe two, who knows who I may meet to ghive a copy too. I feel you are one of my Mentors, My son also is a huge fan, He really likes your hillbilly and horse, is it possible to buy a 8x10 autographed color picture of each to give to him, His birthday is April First, No Joke. Thanks and keep up the great work, The William C. Duff Family

  5. Anonymous3/26/2011

    Great article - my 13yr old son is getting interested in vent work spurred on by Jeff Dunham - of course he wants to begin with a nicer puppet. I'm a musician so I understand there is a "craft" to performing. I was just telling him a few days ago about the importance of "the act" and the material - beyond the features and abilities of the puppet. I just found this blog AND this article. You explained the basics powerfully and concisely. It's also a gateway to a whole new way of "watching" other vent performances - listening for "the story" - that bit about the "victores & defeats" of the character is outstanding - I'll be listening to that. Thank You for the great advice!

  6. Hello and welcome to Mr. D.s Blog the Musician man above, and to your son, Good Luck and if you want nicer pupet ideas and material, Mark Wade and Mr. D.s sight is the place to come, Not saying that Jeff isn't cool, He has brought a lot of folks back to Vent shows, But so has these fine gentleman. and I am sure that you should order the dvd's of Mark Wades, as well as the maher course, I beleave the videos I am refering to are in it, anyway, A great gift at any time of the year, Just to say, I support your efforts and here is a sure way to learn. Thanks and good luck, Bill Duff Family.