A victim of identity theft

Jim Tavare feels ripped off

I have had plenty of jokes stolen over the years.  In fact, it was only last year I attended a very well-known American prop comedian's show in Las Vegas.  A few minutes in, I watched him perform a routine of mine, word for word.  The well-known prop comedian's writer happened to attend one of my shows the week before, which is how I can only assume this 'crossover' had occurred. 

Joke theft, while extremely annoying, is fairly common and will happen to most comics at some time or another. Most of the time a comic will shrug it off and move on. After all, he can always write a new 'bit'.

But what happens when someone takes more than the odd joke? What happens when someone  decides to copy your entire stage image and the whole premise behind your act, then pass it off as their own creation?  It's not a case of simply re-writing a new bit. That comic would have to totally reinvent his image/career/life that has taken years to perfect.

So, a guy comes along called Sid Bowfin and does just that.  He is bald (at least he is now - until very recently he had a full head of hair, but coincidently he has decided that a bald head will suit my/his image better), he wears a tuxedo, he plays a stringed instrument, and he advertises himself as an award winning comedy act

He has even copied my website - the layout, the colour, the font - it's identical.  Spot the difference. My website, and Sid Bowfin's.   

Fellow comic Stephen Grant suggested I grow my hair back but that is no longer possible. It would not surprise me to see this act turn up on Britain's Got Talent  calling himself Tim Javeray. In the same way that BGT's eccentric dancer Steve Hall passed off Judson Laipply's Evolution of Dance as his own

If this were just joke theft, it wouldn't be so bad.  But this 'identity theft' can seriously damage a comic's reputation.  

The guy has apparently performed on cruise ships, corporates, festivals and boasts of two Edinburgh Fringe awards using my stage image.

His YouTube clip here shows him opening with a 'faulty mic' routine. Anyone who knows my act will be aware that I have used a 'faulty mic' premise as an opener for many years. I initially did this on TV, on The Bruce Forsyth Show back the early Nineties.

I also saw from his 'promotional tape' in which he performs a routine accompanying a bloke 'playing' a dust pan and brush.  Although, he's using a different household cleaning object I can't help but wonder whether this routine was inspired by my 'man plays vacuum' routine.

There are many other similarities. His hesitance to actually 'play' the instrument, making it seem more of a prop than anything - which is my trademark style. The part where he gets the sound man to play a track which is mis-timed to make it obvious he's not actually playing the classical piece on the violin.  All of this is evidenced by clips.

I dare not venture out and see him live for fear of what I might see, but maybe it's  time for a Ccomedy Intervention'.

The following scenario is what could happen...

Assistant comedy booker/ comedy fan:  'Shall we book/buy tickets to see Jim Tavaré? -  you know, that bald bloke that wears a tuxedo and plays a violin in his act. He does a bit at the beginning of his show with a faulty mic, he's very funny' 

Comedy booker/ potential ticket purchaser:  'No thanks - I saw him before, and he was dreadful.  Lets not book him/ buy tickets to see his show'.

Bringing this to the attention of Chortle may garner Sid Bowfin more publicity. He may even enjoy  the attention but I have stood by time and time again watching pale copies come and go. Its now time to speak out.

Here are some clips, you decide:

Jim Tavare:

And SId Bowfin:

Published: 22 Jun 2011

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