Tips from an Uber-Pro—Gary Hunter!
This is a somewhat belated second half of a blog I wrote recently about Gary Hunter. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gary, he is a superb ventriloquist and also one of the leading cruise directors in the cruise industry.
Gary has seen the industry from both sides, as a performer and as the man who has to fill out the report that may (or may not) get an act rebooked. He is an ultimate professional in both these capacities and I recently took the opportunity to have him share some of his insights with our readers.
I asked Gary to share five ‘golden rules’ for performers with me. I didn’t give him time to think about the answers he gave me, instead I tried to get his immediate, and impromptu responses. Although I was fully aware that Gary was speaking as a non-magician, I was delighted that his answers translated universally and seamlessly to a magical audience. Here is his list……..
1. Be relaxed onstage. The more relaxed you are, then the more relaxed your audience will be. He rightly pointed out that audiences instinctively know when you are comfortable with your material and when you aren’t. A relaxed, confident tone will let the audience know that they are in the hands of a pro, which is great basis for a strong show.
2. Really know your material before going onstage and then trust your material, this status is made easier by making sure that your act consists of largely true and tried material. Hunter says that part of his success has never trying to be too original. This certainly doesn’t mean he steals people’s jokes or acts. Gary points out that there are many universally wonderful jokes out there, which have been around for years, and are proven commodities. Your job is to figuring out an interesting route to get to the punchline, and then maybe giving that punchline a little twist. A familiar and funny series of jokes can act as ‘tent poles’ to keep your act moving in an entertaining fashion.
3. Gary is a firm believer in the comedic ‘Law of Three.’ Framing your jokes in sets of three, ‘joke-joke-BIG joke.’ He then sets up a storyline by interjecting original material and jokes to pave the way to his ultimate destination. He has written his show so that he is continually telling a story that keeps leading to his next major reaction. He lets the audience enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
4. Dress like an entertainer, and make sure that when you hit that stage you are dressed above your audience. Dress like a showman—not necessarily glitz and glamour but meticulously. Gary is a performer from the old school and never sits down prior to a show in his working pants. The only crease in his pants will be the razor sharp one on the front where it should be! Oh, and polish those shoes…….
5. Know how to get on and off your stage. Your entry and exit onstage is the most important thing you will do during the show. You must walk out onstage so that people will sit up and pay attention. You want them to subconsciously change position, doing this will help cause their blood to flow and this will energize them for your performance. You may be the third or fourth act they are watching and you want their full attention. When the show is finished you have to know how to take your bow, really enjoy receiving your applause; and then get off and stay off, leaving them wanting more. A much quoted but often overlooked state of affairs!
I really liked Gary’s list! They are simple and direct points that a worth reflecting upon carefully, and can improve any show with their application. I thank him for taking the time to share them with me and allowing me to pass them on to you.