The man behind Piff The Magic Dragon has spoken out against the imposter who stole his act on Russian TV.
British magician John Van Der Put said he was ‘pissed off’ at the ‘ridiculous’ rip-off of his routine by Ukranian Andriy Chekanyuk on a Russian TV show called Surprise Me!
The 22-year-old from Kiev performed an exact copy of the act Piff performed on Penn And Teller's Fool Us on ITV last year – even though the YouTube clip of that broadcast has attracted 1.7million views.
Chekanyuk, who comes from a circus family, normally performs in the traditional dinner jacket, but appropriated the Piff shtick for the latest episode of the talent show, which has a 1million rouble prize.
The props, trick and jokes are the same, the only difference is that his Mr Piffles sidekick is a guinea pig, not a chihuahua.
However, Chekanyuk did not get away with the plagiarism, with one of the Russian judges telling him: ’There is a famous magician who works in the same costume with the same act, but the only difference is that he has a little dog and you have a little guinea pig.’
His theft has also been widely pointed out on Facebook, YouTube and on the website of Russian broadcaster TV3.
From Las Vegas, where he is attending the International Magic Experience convention. Van Der Put told Chortle he had long expected someone might steal his distinctive look.
‘I performed the act on national television and it went viral on YouTube, I've had a few emails from individuals asking me how to build a Tacular [the suitcase that turns into a table] where to buy a magic sneeze and claiming to have had the same idea many years ago.
‘While I had a nasty feeling it was only a matter of time before someone did something like this, this is ridiculous. He even ate a banana! And a guinea pig called Mr Piffles? A guinea pig??! Can it levitate? No. Can it do card tricks? No. Does it cost £900? No.
‘Mr Piffles would be spinning in his grave if he weren't alive and well, currently deep in preparation to stake his claim as the World's First Cannonball Chihuahua in his return to Edinburgh.
‘Needless to say I am supremely pissed off as I had hoped the Russian market was where I would truly establish my name. Now I guess they will have heard of my younger brother. Andriy.’
Here’s a video Van Der Put made to highlight the similarities:
Here is the full clip from Surprise Me!
And from Penn And Teller: Fool Us: