Shtick

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A shtick (Yiddish: שטיק) (or schtick) is a comic theme or gimmick. "Shtick" is derived from the Yiddish word shtik (שטיק), meaning "piece"; the closely related German word Stück has the same meaning. The English word "piece" itself is also sometimes used in a similar context. Another variant is "bits of business" or just "bits"; comic mannerisms such as Laurel and Hardy's fiddling with their ties, or one of them looking into the camera shaking his head while the other one would ramble on. A shtick can also refer to an adopted persona, usually for comedy performances, that is maintained consistently (though not necessarily exclusively) across the performer's career. In this usage, the recurring personalities adopted by Laurel and Hardy through all of their many comedy films (despite the fact that they often played characters with different names and professions) would qualify as their shtick. A comedian might maintain several different shticks of this sort, particularly if they appear in a variety show that encourages them to develop multiple characters, such as Saturday Night Live.

In common usage, the word shtick has also come to mean any talent, style, habit, or other eccentricity for which a person is particularly well-known, even if not intended for comedic purposes. For example, a person who is known locally for his or her ability to eat dozens of hot dogs quickly might say that it was their shtick.

Among Orthodox Jews, "shtick" can also refer to wedding shtick, in which wedding guests entertain the bride and groom through dancing, costumes, juggling, and silliness.

Shtick as an appellation[edit]

Because of its roots in comedy and show business, the word shtick has a connotation of a contrived and often-used act—something done deliberately, but perhaps not sincerely. For this reason, journalists and commentators often apply the word disparagingly to politicians and their positions, such as the Village Voice's reference to a perceived change in Rudy Giuliani's position ("Rudy Adopts New Shtick"[1]) or Slate.com's subtitle for a criticism of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's presentation of his Mormonism ("Mitt Romney's Clumsy Mormon Shtick"[2]). Reviews or critiques of artistic or journalistic works have also used the word in this manner, usually to imply a shallow repetitiveness in the work of the reviewed, such as New York Magazine calling The White Stripes' 2007 Canadian tour a "one-note shtick".[3]

Famous comedy shticks[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barrett, Wayne. Runnin' Scared: Rudy Adopts New Shtick, The Village Voice, July 10, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2008.
  2. ^ Reilly, Adam. Take My Wives...Please!: Mitt Romney's Clumsy Mormon Shtick, Slate.com, April 26, 2006. Retrieved January 24, 2008.
  3. ^ Ayers, Michael D. The White Stripes and Their One-Note Shtick, New York Magazine, July 18, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2008.