Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes (Oh My?)

I hate that I titled this post how I did, but hey. People connect to dumb things in pop culture like that. Right? It’s a reference to lions, tigers, and bears IN CASE YOU DIDN’T GET THAT!

Patton Oswalt is a comic known especially well for his twitter rants. He’s really good in long form. He’s also good at long-form talking about comedy.

Read this. Oswalt published the piece on his personal website, where you can find a bunch of other great similar content. It’s a famous comic’s inside views on some of the biggest topics in comedy. That’s interesting, right? It is. This is the type of material that really gets me excited to do comedy: being able to see somebody break down the art in such detail. Someone who is on the inside. Joke stealing on its own is such a weird idea that non-comedians just don’t see it the same way. Example…

When I started doing comedy – back in 1988 – I did a joke one night, at an unpaid open mike, that killed.  It killed.  I wasn’t used to having anything in my set, in those first few months of shows, get any response from an audience other than a hard blink and an impatient sigh.

There’s a dopamine rush, for a comedian, when you cobble a thought out of thin air, when you arrange words not as a sentence but suddenly, as a joke.  A for-real, plucked-from-your-skull joke.  Something you created which, when you reach the part you want the audience to laugh at?  And then…holy shit!  They actually laugh?  That’s the spike in the vein that sets the compass for your life.

Well, I’d gotten a taste.  I wanted more.

The only problem was, it wasn’t my joke.

I’ve been there. I know what he’s talking about. I’ve tried a joke and thought, “That joke was too good. I didn’t think of that on my own.” It’s subconscious. But that’s not how people who villainize joke-stealing comics think of joke stealing. Not every joke-stealing comic is a Carlos Mencia or Fat Jew. Most of the time it’s an accident.

See what I mean? See more things from Oswalt’s view. Read the piece.


2 thoughts on “Thievery, Heckling, and Rape Jokes (Oh My?)

  1. Yeah I personally feel like Dane Cook got a really bad deal over that Louis CK thing. I have always found him to be an amazing talent so a couple of bits that seem to have been taken from someone (subconsciously or otherwise) don’t seem like enough to destroy his career.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah! I still don’t like Dane Cook very much because he denied stealing a lot of material, but I don’t see him as malicious. I could be wrong because that all happened a little before I actually got into comedy, but hey. At the very least I think he’s a really talented performer. If you haven’t seen it, you should check out the episode where Dane Cook plays himself in an episode of Louis C.K.’s show Louie. It’s an encounter with Louis C.K. regarding the joke stealing. Serious stuff. Season 2 Episode 7, “Oh Louie/Tickets.”

      Liked by 1 person

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