Joke plagiarism

I’ve just started reading Mark Watson’s book Crap at the Environment (more on him later; he is GREAT), and I came upon a quote that pretty much sums up stand-up:

I can’t afford to have boring topics in my repertoire – not when my entire career, like the career of any comic, is basically a desperate struggle to persuade as many as possible to love me.

Now on to the topic of the day…

Joke plagiarism. Not a pretty topic, but one I figured I’d bring up after finding this article yesterday, entitled ‘Is There Ever a Justification for Joke Stealing?’ My opinion: no. If you did plagiarize a joke, there’s a good chance it’s not your fault; apologize, take the joke out of your set, and move on. No need for any fuss.

Not surprisingly, as this article from last year states, plagiarism is much more of a problem for one-liner comedians like Jimmy Carr and Gary Delaney (you should follow Gary on Twitter). One-liners are really easy to repeat and repost, especially to Twitter. Delaney in particular has had problems with his jokes being reposted without attribution on Sickipedia, a website that collates funny stuff and is supposedly a forum for budding comedians. He contacted the website and asked them (very reasonably) to take down his jokes. Their response was less than gentlemanly, to which I can only say: why are people such jerks?? (…And this whole attribution thing reminds me of yesterday’s kerfuffle when a magazine editor said that the Internet is public domain. DUH.)

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About whoseroses

Rose is an arts administrator from Victoria, BC. She has worked at some of Canada's biggest and best festivals, including the Victoria Fringe Festival, Just for Laughs in Montreal, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and the Victoria Film Festival. She co-founded the Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, and helps produce the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. Rose is a graduate of Camosun College's Applied Communication Program, and is passionate about theatre, spoken word, comedy, and her community. She runs on festivals.
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