There’s been a bit of drama going on in the comedy world I now live in.
A certain headlining comic was caught red-handed (mouthed?) stealing material from two other comics. Both jokes were told on stage word-for-word, so there’s absolutely no doubt that this was a case of parallel thought.
Different comics coming up with the same premise for a joke happens all of the time. One of the jokes in question is a GPS joke. How many GPS jokes do you think are being coughed up on a stage as you read this? Trust me – tons. Those things are soooo wacky.
Also adding to the offending comic’s culpability – he has seen the other acts numerous times. They all work in the same region. Live in the same town even.
Yeah, it’s strange.
I was watching from the outside, being the newcomer to the scene.
Firstly, I was surprised that it happened in the first place. Sure, I started doing stand-up without really knowing what I was doing, but I knew you didn’t steal other people’s stuff.
Secondly, this sort of thing just couldn’t happen in the Yukon, so I never thought about it.
Every artist in the Yukon, of any discipline, comes at their art in such a unique way; it’s even rare to see cases of parallel thought. That distinctive creativity also carries on in Whitehorse’s comedy scene.
I don’t think any one of those brave performers, who regularly hit the mic, ever worry about sounding like each other … let alone losing sleep over having their material stolen.
So here I am making my way into this larger scene, wondering: Do I really have to think about my jokes as intellectual property?
Even I think that’s a little oxymoronic.
Nevertheless, I’m looking at all of my loose leaf pages, notebooks and napkins that comprise my comedy career so far. Thousands of words on scattered pages that I’m slowly starting to realize, does indeed have a monetary value. That pile (I know, I should get a binder) is exactly how I make money.
The good jokes, the bad jokes, and yes, even the ugly ones – they’re all my babies. I’d be pretty upset to lose even one of them.
But I don’t want to walk around with a crazed, “Don’t touch my stuff!” look in my eyes.
I just need to take better care of my tools, ’cause I’d like to think that I have stuff worth stealing. Check this one out:
Do you think Rock Band Def Leppard will be cheaper because you only need one drumstick?
This joke practically can go on forever. I’ve tried adding on: How easy would Rock Band Nickelback be? It’s the same song every time! and I once even gambled: You know what would be hard? Rock Band Buffy Saint-Marie! (proceeded by much ululating).
Whereas this would have been a fun bit at a Guild comedy night to toss out, now I look at this new baby as something to nurture and protect.
Admittedly, I might have at first been a little jealous that “Mr. Stealy-stealerton” found nothing of mine worth taking. But moving from amateur to professional, I have to realize that the loss of my tools amounts to a loss of employment.
Please note that this is a very isolated incident. Such thievery rarely occurs, as getting caught will totally kill one’s reputation.
Professional stand-up has regular work hassles – who knew? Gossip, politics and feuds – it’s almost comforting to know that this career works pretty much like an office job.