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showbiz word #90324
12/27/02 06:36 PM
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The "amphibibulentist" thread reminds me of days of silent movies, when some actors
had little behaviour items that were not copied by others. I mentioned the guy who in every
movie would spit i;nto a cuspidor, which would "precess" wildly in a foot wide circle several times.
Another guy with a big fat belly would butt adversaries with it, rendering them hors de combat.
Can you think of other examples, and the showbiz name for an actor having such a "signature"?


Re: showbiz word #90325
12/27/02 06:56 PM
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Can you think of other examples, and the showbiz name for an actor having such a "signature"?

That would be their schtick...from the Yiddish, I believe.

>Others<

Jerry Colonna would roll his eyes.

You could say Chevy Chase's pratfalls in the early days of Saturday Night Live were his schtick.

Basically, schitck is a bit or device of physical signature (or "business") you incorporate into a routine or charcter (even your ongoing character's persona) to get a cheap laugh or a cheap reaction from the audience. Thus the old show-biz adage:

When all else fails, do schtick!

Generally frowned upon, nowadays, within theatrical circles as indicative of a lack of professionalism and/or integrity...however, the insider joke is that everybody knows they have done, and will tongue-in-cheekedly re-employ schtick whenever they can get away with it, which is whenever it works, 'cause, why not?





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Re: character signatures #90327
12/27/02 07:18 PM
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Well, that would be like John Wayne's walk, which, interestingly enough, he purposely developed somewhere in his late 20s for his screen persona...he never walked that way before then, and he didn't walk that way in real life (if you watch some of his earliest films, you'll see he doesn't walk like that)...but, through a process of repetition, it did finally creep into his casual stride to a degree. Who can forget his swan song stroll down the steps at his final appearance at the Oscars when he was being ravaged by the final stages of cancer? His signature stride was still evident then...whether he consciously employed it for that touching appearance, or it just came through, I guess we'll never know. But "physical hook" is as close as I can come to a proper name for a signature physical device like that...don't know if there is a proper show-biz or theatrical term for it (if there is, I can't recall it)...but we always just used to call (and I've always heard others say on bios, etc.) John Wayne's stride his "trademark walk".

Insel? if you're peeking in can you help us with this?


Re: showbiz word #90328
12/27/02 08:08 PM
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...little behaviour items that were not copied by others...

...Jerry Colonna would roll his eyes...


I recall Eddie Cantor having a "patented" rolling of the eyes, too. It's a good thing imitation is the sincerest flattery. Do you recall who was earlier? I don't. Bill? You have a longer perspective than most of us.


Re: showbiz word #90329
12/27/02 09:36 PM
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Do you recall who was earlier?

Barney Google, Buster Keaton, Marty Feldman...

...oh, and Betty Davis!

Edit - I found an excellent site for silent clips... http://silent-stars.com/Slapstick/home.html

Re: showbiz word #90330
12/27/02 09:37 PM
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I would guess Eddie Cantor was the earlier eye roller. Nobody could leer and flutter eyebrows
like Groucho Marx.
I had heard "schtick" before, but my (erroneous) impression was that it described something in bad taste,
not necessarily a mannerism.


answering my own question, partly #90331
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...who was earlier?

Eddie Cantor - born Isadore Itzkowitz; 1892 - 1964

Buster Keaton - born James Frank Keaton; 1895 - 1961

Marty Feldman - 1933-1982; his striking eyes apparently came from nasty hyperthyroidism (Interestingly, "...buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, California near his idol, Buster Keaton, in the Garden of Heritage, lot 5420." from the Marty Feldman Home Page)

Barney Google - comic strip character, buddy of Snuffy Smith

Jerry Collonna - second banana to Bob Hope. I can't find dates for him easily. Not to be confused with Jerry Colona , who seems to be a trombonist



Re: showbiz word #90332
12/28/02 02:31 AM
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I had heard "schtick" before, but my (erroneous) impression was that it described something in bad taste

I think that'd be shlock. A shtik is a piece (literal translation). As in, "That duck walk is Groucho's shtik."


Re: showbiz word #90333
12/28/02 04:24 AM
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Here's a list of Yiddishisms, including schtick. It seems these can also be used without the "c" spelling, some of them more popularly so now...as shtick. But I like to keep the "c" because it indicates the "sh" sound is more drawn out, as in shhhtick, which is the way these words are usually verbalized, with an emphasis on the "sh". Schlock/shlock is also one, and generally means lousy or low-quality, as in "a schlock production":

schlep vt. (Yiddish) To drag, to carry something. vi. (literally: to drag oneself around) To waste time, to kill time, to engage in valueless activity.
n. A loser (q.v).

schmooz v. (Yiddish) To press [the] flesh (q.v.) in nonpolitical situations. One who schmoozes is a schmoozer.

schmuck n. (Yiddish for a penis) A jerk. This is quite a mild term in the U.S., but a terrible thing to say if one is Jewish.

schtick n. (Yiddish) An avocation, an idee fixe, an area of expertise (to put it into obsolete slang: someone's bag, their thing). Used pejoratively (e.g., ``that's her schtick'').




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