Did AGT Winner, Paul Zerdin, Rip Off His Act? (VIDEO)

AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- "Los Angeles Auditions" Dolby Theater -- Pictured: Paul Zerdin -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/NBC)

There’s more controversy coming from Simon Cowell’s “Got Talent” franchise. First, the dog act that won Britain’s Got Talent, was reprimanded by the British regulator, Ofcom, for using a stunt dog during a tricky portion of the finale performance.

Now, Deadline is reporting, ventriloquists are accusing America’s Got Talent winner, Paul Zerdin of ripping off his most impressive bits. Zerdin was crowned during last week’s finale.

Two veteran ventriloquists are accusing Zerdin of using routines very similar to their own as he advanced through the show’s quarter and semifinals on to the $1 million win.

“I think he stole my act,” ventriloquist Ronn Lucas told Deadline. “What bothers me is that he won by stealing other people’s acts, including my own, and that he takes credit for the originality. That’s what bothers me the most.”

Longtime ventriloquist David Strassman said: “What bothers me is that he fooled the judges and the audience into thinking that he originated these routines. I think he needs to give credit where credit is due. I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to win a talent show and a lot of money on unoriginal material.”

Here are the routines in question:

During the quarterfinals, Zerdin wowed the judges with a routine where he and his dummy have an argument. Zerdin tells the dummy he’d be nothing without him, but when he walks away, the dummy begins to move and speak on his own. The judges raved.

But look at this routine, performed in 1989 on the Arsenio Hall show by Strassman. The acts are very similar, down to the dialog such as “Is he gone?”

In the semifinals, Zerdin did a bit that was similar to Lucas, involving a remote-control prosthetic jaw that turned judge Howie Mandel into a human dummy who said and did embarrassing/funny things.


Lucas performed a similar routine at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas back in 2006, using a member of the audience. The prosthetics look very similar. In both skits, the human dummy was made to dance.

“It’s very disheartening,” Lucas said. “It’s very galling.” Joel Hodgson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 originated the bit, which he performed on Lucas’ British TV show in 1989. “He did a routine and pulled two guys up on the stage with rubber ape masks and had a squeeze bulb and lip-synced ‘Baby Love’ and they were the backup singers. I got the rights from him and turned it into my own. After that, everyone was doing it, so I don’t know if Paul stole it from me or from somebody else who stole it from me. For a long time, I tried to protect it, but I finally gave up. Magicians publish their tricks – they have their names attached to them. But no one cares about giving ventriloquists credit.”

FremantleMedia and Simon Cowell’s SYCO entertainment, co-producers of the series, declined to comment. According to a Freemantle source, Zerdin has been using the prosthetic jaw since 1997 after seeing one sold at a ventriloquist’s convention. Other ventriloquists have been known to use the bit.

“He’s not claiming that he’s the only one who uses the mask,” the source said. “It’s a common ventriloquist prop.”

“He could not have won if he didn’t have talent,” Lucas said, “and when you look at all the acts, he deserved to win. I just hope that in the future, if people win America’s Got Talent, they do it on their own originality, not someone else’s. The people who were wronged the most were the competitors who did original material.”

About mj santilli 35052 Articles
Founder and editor of mjsbigblog.com, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!