|"Their takin' our jobs."|
I thought it was satire when I heard that British Ventriloquist Paul Zerdin won "America's Got Talent". Isn't there a "Britain's Got Talent" Show? Why didn't he try out for that one? I thought this was a competition like the Olympics, you have to be American to compete for America's Got Talent. If you win the American Contest then you get to compete in the "World's Got Talent", the winner of that gets to represent the World in the "Universe's Got Talent". That's when the competitions gets really tough. At the "Universe's Got Talent" one has to compete against Arrillian Gorp Jugglers and the best Ear Whistlers from the Nebulon system.
If anyone can enter any of the "Got Talent" franchises in the world, why aren't we all trying to win "Romainia's Got Talent" or "Slabovia's Got Talent". I'm saying, crossing borders to win talent contests causes all kinds of problems. Where are the Trump supporters using Paul Zerdin as an example of immigration out of control.
Trump: "These Brits are coming over her, they're thieves, they're drug smugglers, ventriloquists. And I assume some are good people."
Is it time to scream, "They're taking our jobs... and stealing our puppets."
Full Disclosure. I rarely watch America's Got Talent, and I don't know Paul Zerdin. From what little I have seen of his act on Youtube Paul seems to have great technique and good stage presence. I do, however, know Ronn Lucas and David Straussman very well, they also have great technique and great stage presence. All three now seem to be involved in a controversy over intellectual property, original ideas, and the difference between instruments and art.
I do not always agree with the "ventriloqual trickle down theory." That is the idea that what is good for one ventriloquist at the top is good for all the others down line. It doesn't work in economics, why would it work with variety arts? In this case, is winning a talent contest so important for all other ventriloquists that we will look the other way when we know some winning bits were lifted from someone else's act? We'll get back to that.
Think of it this way. Ventriloquism is like music. The puppet (mask, electronic, soft puppet, knee figure) is like the instrument. The act that a ventriloquist does with this puppet instrument could be equated to music. Any one can play the piano if they want to. No one owns the rights to piano playing. You practice and get good enough and you can become a great pianist. You might even become good enough to play like Dave Brubeck (look him up if you're not sure). You might develop a style that audience members hail as the next "Dave Brubeck like" sound. Everything is kosher until you play, "Take Five" and claim credit for writing it. Then you have crossed over from being a musician to being a plagiarist. Other musicians would not let that claim go unchallenged.
David Strausman may not have exclusive claim to the "instrument" of a mechanical remotely controlled puppet. Ronn may not have exclusive claim to the "instrument" of a moving vent mask, (although he makes the legal claim he does.) These things are instruments and are like saxophones for sale to anyone who wants to lean how to play them. What seems to be the issue at hand now is did Paul Zerdin use these instruments to play songs written by David and Ronn? That would cross the line of intellectual property, courtesy and integrity.
It does not matter if some piano player says he has been playing "Take Five" since 1997 when he saw a piano for sale at a pianist convention. "Take Five" was composed in 1959. End of story, end of claim. It belongs to someone else, write your own song.
We are back to trickle down ventriloquism. If it is so important to have ventriloquism win for the benefit of all ventriloquists that we turn a blind eye to the original "song" writers: that becomes its own reward. But it's a slippery slope. Ventriloquists will be encouraged to watch others and instead of saying, "Wow, I wish I had thought of that... it's brilliant", they will be saying "Wow, I can use that in my act." That is not trickle down that is poisoning the well.
I'm not stirring the pot or trying to take sides. I'm just pointing out the truth. In life you have to "do your own work". Whatever grade you get in life's exam, make sure it is your work. That is the definition of originality and the soul of a musician, artist, dancer and ventriloquist.
As you were,