Using Someone Else's Patter Properly

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MidnightCoffee, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Hi,
    I apologize if "General Discussion" is the wrong place to post this, I literally haven't posted here in years.

    I'm currently working on structuring a scripted half hour show, after performing street-style magic for years. My show is based around odd performers. This means performing standard tricks, with a different performance i.e. Cups and balls as a gambling game, some mind reading as voodoo (Rick Lax's Soul Paper is great!), etc.

    I also do some sideshow stunts like human blockhead and Wayne Houchin's A Single Needle.
    All of this is kinda similar to the late great Harry Anderson's shows, but changed drastically to fit me as a performer. All patter is my own, but my one question is: Is it wrong to take his "Let's talk geek!" patter and adapt it to my style, or is that considered stealing an act? If so, how is it different from using any other patter for tricks? (I wouldn't be doing the needle through arm, though. I would only use the opening line "Let's talk Geek," and the joke about swallowing a rat...)

    To clarify, I don't mean to argue in any way, I merely want to learn from what everyone here has to say on the subject! :)

    Thanks so much, happy holidays!
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  2. It depends on your definition of “stealing an act.” If you mean do you have the right to perform it, then it depends. Did you buy the act from the creator? If so I woukd say the script is part of it unless it is specified not to use it (sometimes you will see dvds or books retain performance rights)

    Now if your question is more along the lines of being seen as a copy cat or unoriginal, then I woukd say to avoid using anyone else patter. Try to be as original as you can.
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  3. Ah, okay. Apologies if I was unclear.
    All effects I'm doing I have the rights to perform, and I'm using all my own patter except for that one line.

    Thanks so much for the response!
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  4. It doesn’t sound like you’re using their patter, more like using a catchphrase. I don’t see a problem with this per se, especially as your audience are unlikely to realise that it’s quoting somebody else. But it hardly seems necessary... do you really need to say it?
    Mr_ARPY likes this.
  5. No, definitely not necessary I just thought it was a great way to introduce what I would do next.
  6. Is it like a homage to the original creator? If so, I don't see a problem!
  7. Using a single small part of someone else act isnt a huge deal. Id say as long as it is done tastefully it is fine. Having said that it depends what it is.

    For example, I was performing a bottle production using a bottle opener. I used to use the line “you know what the magicians first trick is? The opener” then produce it. Well turns out even though it was a single line, it was essentially the entire bit for Johnny’s bottle production. He respectfully asked me not to use that line.

    Moral of the story is, if it is a single insignificant line that adds to your act go for it. If it is a major part of that other persons act I would stay away from it.
    NinoIng likes this.
  8. Okay, got it. Thanks so much for the advice!
  9. You can gladly use "inspiration" and ideas from other magicians, shows, etc. however using the same line or phrase is pretty much frowned upon in the magic circle. Does the audience know any better? More times than most? No.
    I've seen magicians basically steal The Amazing Jonathan's routines, pass them off as their own, the crowd laughs hysterically and the only one who knows is other magicians in the audience. It is kind of sad.
    CWhite likes this.
  10. I’m with @RickEverhart. The only way I would do something like in the case of someone who has passed away is ton use the line or joke with credit to Harry. Something like, “One of my great inspirations is the magician Harry Anderson. Some of the older people in the audience may remember him from the sit-com Night Court. Harry used to say....” If you do that, nobody will have a problem.
  11. Good idea, never thought about it like that. Thanks!

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