If there’s any one cardinal rule of comedy, it’s this: “Don’t Steal Jokes.”
In fact, I’m pretty sure “Don’t Steal” period is one of the Ten Commandments too, and it’s one of the first things you learn in kindergarten when you take a kid’s blocks while they’re playing with them, purely because you want them. You learn pretty early on that stealing is wrong. So why is it okay to steal jokes on the internet?
I’ll tell you: It’s not.
There’s a funny comedian by the name of Davon Magwood who posted a picture of himself dressed as The Cowardly Lion from “The Wiz” in order to make a funny statement about the Cecil the Lion controversy.
Going to start dressing like a Lion. That way cops know that if they kill me. White people will avenge me pic.twitter.com/FIFfcJwOQH
— Davon Magwood (@davonmagwood) July 30, 2015
A straight-up copy. Right down to a “period” where there shouldn’t be a period in the middle of a sentence. (Of course, major props to A.V. Club for tracking this information down.)
That’s not only the mark of a douchebag of the highest order, but a real, real insecure person who can’t stand the idea of anyone coming up with something funnier than they can. This could also be considered the mark of someone who maybe can’t come up with something funny, so they have to steal from others. But that’s just speculation.
This certainly isn’t an isolated incident from Ostrovsky.
@thepatrickwalsh Hey Fat Jew stole from you once right? Man, for some reason, him & Fuck Jerry are really pissing me off this week.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) August 3, 2015
To anyone who follows @FATJEW, don’t. Blatant joke thief: http://t.co/tqMBtzZ5Yk // http://t.co/KOXtv1tiUY — Patrick Walsh (@thepatrickwalsh) June 8, 2014
— Nick Thune (@nickthune) July 28, 2015
@nickthune I worked on a pilot with @FATJEW years ago that they never paid us for, fuck that guy. — Jeremy Wein (@thismyshow) July 28, 2015
This hits a little close to home here at PGP as well. Dorn’s had it done to him:
As has Rachel Page:
Unfortunately, as long as people are looking to just scroll through their Twitter/Instagram feeds looking for blind entertainment, they’re gonna follow a bullshit account that steals other peoples’ jokes and tweets them out to people. It’s easy to get a million twitter followers when you don’t actually have to worry about coming up with the content yourself.
And that’s what pisses me off the most: Not only are people FOLLOWING The Fat Jewish in droves, but people are calling him a VISIONARY. The New York Times even profiled the guy, even though they seemed to acknowledge the fact that his own rise to success was taking “a shortcut.”
“Given that Mr. Ostrovsky’s main oeuvre is a social media feed for which he mostly finds funny pictures or tweets on the web and reposts them with his own captions, his abilities as a live-action entertainer are untested. It’s an obstacle he is doing little to overcome. Mr. Ostrovsky refuses to join the stand-up circuit. ‘Why would I do that when I can roll myself into a giant burrito, take a picture and get paid?’ he said.”
My dad actually emailed me this article about a year ago with his own editorial: “No matter what happens, at least you’ll never be as unfunny as this guy.” I replied, “I actually have no idea who this is.”
Funny or not, that’s beside the point. I think I think Davon Magwood hit the nail on the head: “If it’s my stuff you’re posting, and if you give me credit, then I get traffic to my site, maybe that traffic goes to my comedy album and then I get paid for my work! You make money from the traffic you generate and guess what, I’d also would like to be paid and credited for the traffic that I’ve generated. I shouldn’t have to asked to be credit for my work… If you want to post other peoples stuff, go right on ahead, just make sure you don’t crop out their twitter handles. I have a girlfriend-with-fetus to clothe and feed.”
Bottom line: Don’t. Steal. Jokes.
[H/T A.V. Club]
Image via YouTube