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.