Green’s Dictionary of Slang

schtick n.

also schtuck, shtick, shtik, stick
[show business jargon shtick, one’s stage speciality, one’s act, esp. of a comedian’s monologue; ult. Ger. Stück, a piece]
(orig. US)

1. a personal habit or trait; a speciality.

[US] ‘Mexicana Rose’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 40: Next cards, which wasn’t my stick; / Not that my game was weak, but hers was so goddam slick.
[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 110: Again Porter Hackett laughed. It was his bit. His shtick.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 124: I guess that was his main stick, bitches.
[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 81: Im sure glad thats [i.e. paedophilia] not my shtik.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 166: Dat ain’t yo’ stick neither, huh?
[US]H. Selby Jr Song of the Silent Snow (1988) 75: Shes probably ballin some other cat but wants to keep you around in case it dont work out — they all nodded very wisely. Yeah, thats their schtick man.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 11 Sept. 28: They have that self-conscious watch-out-plebs-I’m-wild-and-bohemian schtick.
[US]J. Lethem Fortress of Solitude 362: Whatever it was I alluded to, with my ghetto shtick, I wasn’t completely kidding.

2. an act, a performance.

[US] ‘Master of the Long-Shoe Game’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 155: To all of you who think you’re slick, / Sit down and listen while I shoot my stick.
[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 82: One of the funniest newspaper shticks I’ve ever read.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 71: He does his schtuck about, you know, ‘Why do you wear a mask?’ [Ibid.] 212: ‘I never take my girdle off’, one of those kinda sticks.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 9: Shooting pool was my main stick.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 28: She thought she’d better get clear on the whole schtick.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 31: The black kid with the Johnny Mathis shtick.
[US]G. Tate ‘Knee Deep in Blood Ulmer’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 18: That cut’s also Blood’s only tight vocal tune. Otherwise he don’t take the singing shtick too seriously.
[UK]B. Geldof Is That It? 241: She does a sort of ‘oh dear, I’m just a frail little old lady’ schtick.
[US]H. Harrison Bill [...] on the Planet of Robot Slaves (1991) 184: We do the military shtick and join the army.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 137: Desdemona was just beginning her ‘Life Sempiternal, Life Evanescent’ blooming lilac shtick.
[UK]Guardian G2 15 June 17: Lucille Ball [...] honing her schtick as the ditzy suburban housewife.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 205: The massive Big Boy is a regular feature on the LA gig scene. He has his schtick down.
[US]T. Dorsey Hurricane Punch 189: ‘What’s his shtick?’ ‘He agrees with everyone.’.
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 13: It was a loser shtick to a dipshit child predisposed to believe it.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 224: ‘I only found one story’ [...] ‘Don’t worry [...] It’ll give me a sense of your schtick’.

In derivatives

schticky (adj.)

artificial, contrived.

[US]Mad mag. Feb. 11: Annoying Deal-a-Meal commercials [...] and schticky David Letterman appearances.