'I'm no plagiarist'

Sid Bowfin hits back at Jim Tavare's claims

Musical comedian Sid Bowfin has finally made his formal rebuttal of claims that he stole Jim Tavare’s stage persona.

Two weeks ago, Tavare claimed that his reputation was being damaged by Bowfin, whose real name is Adrian Garratt becasuse of the similarity of their acts. Both comics appear on stage, bald and in long-tailed jacked, and with a string instrument they are slow to get around to playing – which Tavare said could lead to confusion. He even claimed Garratt had stolen his website design.

Now, in a 1,500-word contribution to Chortle, Garratt, accuses Tavare of repeatedly ‘defaming’ him with the allegations.

Garrett – who was formerly a member of comedy classical music troupe Pluck, said that combing a musical instrument with clowning is nothing new – having was used by the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Victor Borge – and that a ‘faulty microphone’ routine he was accused of copying was an ad-lib to cope with genuinely malfunctioning equipment

He added that has been bald for a decade, and said the similarities in web design were down to the fact both used standard off-the-peg software

Garratt – who never once named Tavare in his article despite addressing him directly – said: ‘I believe my act is very different in style and content to his. From what I remember, he is a stand up comedian, and his “character” is deadpan and weary.

‘He tells jokes, using his double bass as a prop. He rarely plays the bass, and the music is not technically demanding. In contrast, as Sid Bowfin I am a highly animated, manic violinist and clown. Crucially, approximately half of my set is my playing the violin to a professional level.’

Garratt, also a street performer, admitted he had seen Tavare’s act some years ago, but added: ‘His work certainly hasn’t left a lasting impression, and he is not on my list of ‘comedic influences’

He has previously said he would not rule out legal action if Tavare ‘escalates’ his campaign highlighting the similarities between their acts.

In response, Tavare said today: ‘Adrian Garratt published a clip of himself on a public website performing an act which had a similar premise, props, material, and whilst wearing attire and a look so identical to mine it was alarming. He therefore left himself open to public comment about the clip - so as a member of the public,  that's exactly what I did.

‘It is not a coincidence that thousands of members of the comedy-loving public also shared my view that his act (in the clip) is very similar to mine. It is unfair to suggest that the public and indeed other comics, parrot and are only influenced by my own views rather than expressing their own thoughts on the matter.

‘A comic's audience is never afraid to express whether they think a joke is good, whether it's bad, or if indeed, they think something is clearly crossing the line.  The comedy public made it clear that they felt his act “crossed the line” in it's similarities to mine, and my views cannot be held accountable for their reaction.

‘I have already publicly stated that his performance in Pluck,  should in no way be seen as similar to my own act.  I have also publicly stated that although I have not seen Pluck perform before, I have heard very positive reviews and would not wish to discourage anyone from going to see the show.

‘His attire and routines in some of his street performances are also very different from that of my own act - and equally, I do not have a problem with this. I do not own the monopoly on tuxedos or musical acts, as he implies is my argument.

‘However, the performance on his nine-minute comedy club clip is startlingly similar to my own stage image and act, and it is this point I raised as an issue and that I continue to believe shows a performance that could easily be construed as a copy - be it from me, or comedy fans.’

  • Click here to read Garratt's response in full.

    And here are the clips at the centre of the plagiarism claims.

    Jim Tavare:

    The clip of Sid Bowfin that Tavare complained about was removed from YouTube soon after the story broke, but we have some footage:

    Published: 5 Jul 2011

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