keeping rigs fast for animating and playback



   i am an animator and planning to make a cartoon style rig. My rigging skills arent good but i think that using one the available scripts that auto sets up the skeleton and controls then i can get along ok with skin weighting, and can work out the facial setup.
   i want the rig to be fast to animate with and for playback in the maya window,. i was just wandering if there is any pitfalls or things to look out for in terms of keeping the rig fast. for example i notice that on the animation mentor bishop character his head is a seperate mesh. i assume that this might make it faster somehow, as the blend shapes on the face arent full body meshes, am i right in thinking this, should i seperate the head? is there a way to set up the face that keeps things faster than others?  just wanted to know really any advice on keeping things fast and things to avoid. 
   also any recommendations on auto rigging scripts, im looking to make a really flexible cartoony rig.


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