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Old 01-17-01, 05:46 PM   #1
Keith Eveslage
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Post Stock Lines

At the Lodi Juggling festival, Robert Nelson was describing a Karamozov Bros. Show in which they use all stock lines, but credit the original authors. I have often thought of compiling, with help, as many standard street show lines as possible and their original authors for publication. My thinking being that if they are published and credited, the compilation can be used as a primer for what lines to avoid, since they have already been done. After seeing several post to rec.juggling along the lines of “what are some funny drop lines I can use” I fear that such a list would allow just any old hack to get out and perform a good, but trite, street show that would be funny to a lay audience, but would make a seasoned performer cringe. Any thoughts?

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Old 01-17-01, 10:47 PM   #2
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A year or so ago I sat down with Gazzo (before he died) and we came up with all the heckler lines we had either made up, heard used or had stolen over our collective years performing on the streets.

I added to the list a bunch of others that Andrew Conway, Bob Nickerson, Scotty Meltzer and Ngaio had stockpiled.

After several arguments over who wrote what (Gazzo is a boldfaced liar) we didn't bother to try and credit the original author any longer, we simply wrote them all down.

Needless to say the compilation is a real eye opener and I thought perhaps to publish them ... then I thought again.

Not only would it be extremely difficult to give proper credit to the original author, it would also saturate the market with lines that took a lifetime of performing to accumulate.

Under normal circumstances, I freely share my knowledge & performing experiences with others ... but I feel I would be doing a disservice to the performing community to simply give all these exquisite lines away.

However, send me ten bucks and I’ll e-mail the lot to you.

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Old 01-19-01, 08:45 PM   #3
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What? Gazzo wrote heckler lines?
Back in 93 when I was training at the Dell Arte School Chumlgh came in to do a workshop and said " You know all those lines that you hear every street act doing. Those old stock lines? I wrote those. Everyone stole from me."
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Old 01-19-01, 08:52 PM   #4
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I went to watch Hilby do his last show of the day when he and I were doing the Maryland Ren Fest, and his show was shaping up to be hellish. 10 people (he was against the last joust) and half of them were drunk. Really drunk. So to make a negitive a positive he began throwing in lines from everyone elses show. He'd toss out a line to this "crowd" and then look at me and say "Thanks Butterfly man", "Thanks Gazzo".
I was laughing.....but the "crowd" was...well....but I think a Butterfly man line got a drunk woman to flash Hilby her tits.
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Old 01-20-01, 11:47 PM   #5
Keith Eveslage
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Scotty Meltzer insists that the first street act to actually sit down and write comedy in advance was Fly by Night. They were the ones that everyone ripped off. Does anyone really know who wrote these lines originally? I see an act in San Francisco do a line then another do the same line on TV years later. Does the TV act get the credit for reaching more people? Can some of these lines predate Ray Jason?
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Old 01-21-01, 03:29 PM   #6
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I have a number friends that have been doing Comedy-Sportz and improv comedy for a long time and one of the things I hear from them is that Robin Williams was a notorious line stealer. He also did a lot of Improv comedy in clubs/with groups and that alot of what he saw others doing would end up in his "riffs" on stage and in televised events, so thier hard work became his genius. I dont know if this story is true, but it stands to reason that televised groups get credit for lines by the fact that they are on TV. There is this strange idea that your work is valid if it ends up on TV. Its a really frightening kind of line stealing because if you steal a line then do it on TV the public at large thinks of it as your work, because of the permaniance of the medium of TV. Its like the advice that Tom Noddy got about going on Carson. (not an exact quote) "Do it before someone else does it. If they get on before you you'll be the guy who copied the (other) bubble guy on Carson." I don't know how to fix it, its just an ugly truth about our work.

[This message has been edited by Todd (edited 01-21-2001).]
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Old 01-21-01, 10:14 PM   #7
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Todd.
My sources inform me of the same about Robin Williams. Apparently he'd even stoop to going to amateur nights to steal material from beginners. You'll be glad to hear that now he is working up to writing two hours worth of original stand up. He's doing a tour of 2000 seat theatres in the states somewhere and is busting it onstage. Good to hear. He also did Who's Line is it Anyways recently (which was extremely funny.)

It seems you and I should be hanging out in person.

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Old 01-22-01, 05:32 AM   #8
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Yeah please don't publish that book. Wouldn't it be terrible if there was an old hack out performing a show full of stock lines. You need to think about what kind of power you have there. You might spawn a new Robin Williams. If people want stock lines they can find them because everyones using them. One of the many problems with selling a list like that is you will ruin the magic for the spectators. Those jokes are funny. If someone uses them in his show they are still funny. Is this stuff for us or for the audience.

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Old 01-22-01, 10:31 AM   #9
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As it stands now I see too many acts working the street using too many stock lines. I mean using a few (working them into your act, working them to suit your show, is alright.. everyone uses a few stock lines) but in the wrong hands it could get nasty. Wsa in Covent gardens last Sept, watched the acts there and was greatly disappointed. Jon and I watched like 3 shows, decided we didn't want to work there, and left.

Publishing the said list would ensure that my skin would crawl more often while watching street shows.
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Old 01-22-01, 05:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" size="2">Originally posted by Keith Eveslage:
Scotty Meltzer insists that the first street act to actually sit down and write comedy in advance was Fly by Night. They were the ones that everyone ripped off. Does anyone really know who wrote these lines originally?
Is that the Fly By Night Jugglers who I saw in San Francisco many years ago? Funny guys, lots of style ... but a good bit of what they did was done earlier by the Karamazovs. I picked up a line from them that was not a Karamazov line ... I used it in some shows but when I got the offer to do the Tonight Show, I tracked down one of the Fly By Night guys and told him about this line and asked how he would feel if I used it on TV. He told me that he had originated it within the group and that they were splitting up ... he gave me permission to use it. I did.

Funny thing ... the Karamazovs started using it in some special siituations on stage and often credited me!

[juggling clubs start falling en masse, or my "nuclear bubble" bursts ... "It's okay, we have back up systems ... Back up everybody, back up, back up!"]

post script: years later, I attended an anti-nuclear event at the Diablo Canyon Nuke plant in California and was delighted to see a kid's performance troupe that I knew, Thought Up Theater from the Albion Whale School, performing an anti-nuke skit for a part of the crowd. They had lab coats and were dramatising a "nuclear event" ... at the end they declared "It's okay, we have back up systems ..." then each of them ran into the crowd yelling "Back up everybody ... back up, back up!" ... one kid 9 years old, ran straight toward me and whispered "Tom, is it okay that we used your line?"



[This message has been edited by Tom Noddy (edited 01-22-2001).]
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Old 01-23-01, 02:16 AM   #11
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I hate to do this, but someone is going to have to let the rabbit out of the hat... Magic shops have been selling books on "stock/heckler lines" ever since Houdini blurted out, "hey, I don't go and knock the spike out of your hand when you are trying to lay down railroad track." The Magicians' attitude is that if you bought the book, it gives you performing rights (even if the author stole the line in the first place).

How's that for opening up a can of worms?

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Old 01-23-01, 03:08 PM   #12
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I actually (I hate to admit this) own one of those formentioned books its really great to get some ideas from though...its called:

"Sleight of Mouth: A collection of Hilarious one liners" By: Harry Allen

he claims no fame for writing these lines...

its hard cover 180 pages...it covers everything from specific locations/crowd control/no laughter/hecklers/mc bits/ mistakes made by you...and if you do magic, jokes for specific tricks.

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Old 01-27-01, 11:30 PM   #13
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One of the things I do whenever I work near or in D.C. is I try to visit the Library of Congress. They have an amazing collection of books.
You can also look through collections of old books that have been left to them.
On hand they have the Houdini collection. His book collection and papers were left to the L.o.C after his death.
I found several old books he collected, that actually detail vaudeville acts. A "how to" book for those wanting to perform but not come up with the act. Tricks, patter, staging, and even an adress to write for information if you are having trouble with the act. All this for about 25 cents. So there you go, the old timers were selling thier acts even while doing them.
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Old 01-29-01, 02:47 PM   #14
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Something no-one's mentioned yet, concerning stock lines. Sometimes they're original, too.

That is, sometimes you come up with a line that's original to you, that just happens to be a stock line, or someone else's line. As a magician, I used to (and sometimes still do) the old torn-and-restored money from lemon bit. At the end of the trick, as the volunteer troops offstage with their soggy fiver in hand, I say, "Hey buddy, do you know what you get when you take money from a lemon? Sour dough!"

Okay, I never claimed to be a brilliant comedy writer. Nonetheless, this was my line, that I came up with by myself.

However, about a year after I'd been using it fairly consistently, I was told by another performer that this line belonged to a friend of his, a magician from California whom I'd never heard of.

What to do? When you think about it, it's a pretty obvious joke. I didn't steal it, I thought it up myself, but still, someone else had (apparently) been using it for years.

Am I obliged to give up the joke because someone else thought it up first? None of this really matters a whole lot since I hardly do the trick any more, but still...

One of my other performer friends believes that you should never keep jokes for more than a year or so anyway, no matter how good they are.

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Old 10-23-09, 09:11 AM   #15
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Default so that's who made up that line...

Reading an online obit of Soupy Sales this morning and found reference to a stock hat line that I've heard used by many different performers...

"Sales, who was typically clad in a black sweater and oversized bow-tie, was once suspended for a week after telling his legion of tiny listeners to empty their mothers' purse and mail him all the pieces of green paper bearing pictures of the presidents.

The cast of "Saturday Night Live" later paid homage by asking their audience to send in their joints

so Gazzo didn't write that one!

Ciao - Kev
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Old 10-23-09, 11:53 AM   #16
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Soupy's show got suspended because of that incident.
Here's Soupy telling the story:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-OGy...eature=related
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Old 10-23-09, 12:42 PM   #17
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Default (Gazzo is a boldfaced liar)

(Gazzo is a boldfaced liar) nuff said!
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Old 10-23-09, 06:14 PM   #18
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guilty. i use stock lines in my show. hands up who hasn't ever used a stock line. slowly but surely as my experience grows my ideas grow with me, my own voice comes through, my own lines start to become the ones people laugh at the most. slowly i start to experience the situations that call for a line, then say i use a stock line, at least i was prepared and i din't lose the energy of the crowd ,and now i know what that situation is, when i sit in the coffee shop with my book (that has a lot bad jokes and crappy lines in it, hundreds of them that arent good enough to be put into the show...yet) slowly but surely my own lines evolve and out of the ashes of inexperience one day i will emerge with the goal : a fully original show.

but all the while this process of my personal evolution is taking place, i feel no shame. I feel humbled by the performers who came before and wrote the amzing material that peppers my show. im still doing my job, im making people laugh, im allowing people space to forget about the leaky washing machine and the screaming kid. and i go home with enough money to feed myself. and thats it. 45 minutes of original material doesnt just happend. its something that is born of experience and tireless work. which i'm more than willing to put in, and having a frame from which to work in speeds the progress of originality.

so the summery of my thoughts on stock lines is: dont settle for a show of stock material because there can be no joy and job satisfaction in unoriginality. but rather say something funny than say nothing at all.

getting there slowly one show at a time...
Devin.
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Old 11-05-09, 12:21 AM   #19
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stock lines are good for certain situations and i have some stored in my brain that i use

but my god it is so painful to share a pitch with somebody whos show- script is stock line after stock line.
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Old 11-05-09, 01:14 PM   #20
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Default amen.

very well said, George.

hallelujah, indeed.
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