Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Norman; an unfortunate truth

I was down in Dublin last week doing a wee gig at the Comedy Crunch. Went ok, thanks for asking until I tried to get home and had to wait 4 hours for a bus.  Showbusiness, eh?
It's a nice wee gig, intimate and suits my relaxed style. Nice to meet all the Dublin lads, too.
Anyhow was talking to Kevin McGahern, who has a great act with some beautifully written surreal set pieces, and he asked me about Norman.
Norman is my spring puppet known to most magicians as Rocky because that is what he is called on the box he comes in. He also comes with an instruction manual. Which brings me back to Kevin, who asked me what my inspiration was for my Norman routine.  I was a bit taken aback for a second, as the prop mainly inspired the routine so I thought he might be making a point (I don’t think he was, he’s nice fellow and was just making conversation) but I had to admit that a lot of that routine is “inspired” by the book of instructions that came with it.
In fact: look at this:

Now hold on a second with that pitchfork, stop nailing those planks together. I’m not doing Dave’s bit (many magicians do do Dave's act word for word and it's very amusing seeing a 13 year old youtuber claiming he was "having a corporate lunch at a restaurant the other day"...)
His routine is (in his words) “... basically the Magic Masters pitch with a sprinkling of original stuff on top”. I would say that describes a lot of my routine, too.
The Magic Masters are the manufacturers of this prop and these gags are used to sell it. Still though,  doing a gag from a book isn’t very artistically fulfilling is it? Norman is the least original thing I do.
Why am I doing this expose on myself? (I was originally going to call todays blog "Some clown who exposes himself" but thought better of it)
Well firstly, I can hardly take the moral highground and spout off about artistic integrity without pointing out my own flaws.
And secondly by being honest about what isn't very original I can also honestly point out that most of what I do is very original.
Now for those of you who have seen my Norman bit will know that I far from do the same act as Dave word for word. One of the main stipulations I had for this routine before I performed it on the comedy circuit was that the words would be mine even if the actions I performed might be old. So the gags were completely rewritten. The lamest example of this would be replacing "Madonna" with "Julia Roberts" less "rewriting" more googling "celebrity underarm hair". On the other end of the spectrum there are many completely original verbal and visual bits aswell. (The battery line, the tightrope walk, the weasely gag etc are all 100% original)

So after spouting off about hackyness, I thought I'd turn it on myself to find out what you guys think.

I would say my Norman bit is 60% original visually and 90% original verbally. Which is probably 60% and 90% more original than a lot of magicians out there and 40% and 10% less original than a lot of comedians out there...

The hack parts are from the sellers of the product, so no plagarism here but are there any victims? Is it just a shame for me that I can't claim this is 100% original or is it unfair for me to use something like this as other performers don't get props that come with jokes?

There's a poll at the bottom of this page.

Tell me what to do.


1 comment:

  1. Keep doing what you are doing George. Ian Keable in his book Stand Up: A Professionals Guide To Comedy Magic states that most of the material he uses are old street jokes and one liners that have been rewritten until they sounded like a new joke.

    So, There you go.

    George Patrick