Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery

May 28, 2009

I knew when I decided to start putting clips of my show online that unoriginal performers without the ability to create their own material might start trying to perform my original material. That’s sort of the risk that goes with the reward of giving millions of people access to my performances. In the case of my “close up street magic video,” it’s the card to shoe that people haven’t seen. Card to shoe is an old principle and has been performed many ways. I’m not sure if my method is 100% original or not but I came up with it on my own. Almost 80,000 people have watched the video at the time of this blog. Since then, I get emails from young magicians saying “hey, that’s a great idea – I think I’m going to use that.” Why not just come up with your own way to end the trick?

Then we come to today’s topic of discussion. A friend called and told me someone online was doing my “Stars” routine word for word in a new YouTube video. I immediately had an idea of who it was, because last year I had a bunch of students facebooking me telling me that this performer was performing the routine word for word – right down to the geisha father and “I’ll never forget what my father said to me next. He looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘Now get a broom and clean that shit up!”‘ Word for word. Verbatim. Word for word. Well it turns out this performer was so proud of his performance of my routine that he decided to put a video of it online. Since I had asked the performer to stop doing my routine a year ago, I still knew where to get his number. I called and left a message and within an hour, the video had been taken down and replaced with a version that had any of the accompanying monologue to the trick omitted. No call back, no admission of guilt.

Let me be clear. The “Snowstorm in China” is a magical effect that has been around for a very long time – centuries old. I’m not claiming that other performers can’t perform it. It’s been performed by thousands of magicians throughout time. Badly by many of them. Many performers feel like they need to add it to their show because its beautiful and they saw another performer do it. This was the motivation for my routine. In case you haven’t seen my routine (you can watch below), it’s a spoof on the effect. I’m making fun of the magicians who feel as if telling a story about their childhood and doing beautiful magic somehow enables them to connect with the audience. My routine was written years ago with a comedy writer friend of mine. The routine – right down to every line of it – is mine, and I’ve performed it for thousands upon thousands of people in the last however many years.

I would love to share the original version of the other magician’s video with you. I have it saved (thank you, vixy.net). He really looks like an idiot performing my line. But I think I’ll take the high road on this one. After all, no one’s going to perform my original material as well as I do.
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I only ask that you help me through your support. The people that visit my facebook and read my blogs are the most supportive group of people I’ve ever seen. Show the below video to as many friends as you can. Post it to your wall, submit it to other web sites, do whatever – just let some more people see my video. I’d really appreciate it. Here’s the stars routine.

To put this video on facebook or link to it, here’s the URL to use: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TogBivhs290
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Thanks for your support. In closing, I’d like to ask you. What would you do? Do you think I’m doing the right thing?

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