Intellectual Property within The Comedic Community

I know quite a few people are writing about the Joe Rogan versus Carlos Mencia feud, which has been going on for quite some time, but came to a boil on the 10th of February, as Joe and Carlos had words on stage at the same time.

Head to Joe Rogan’s Website for more details on what happened. You’ll also find out that Mencia doesn’t even mention it or want to defend himself on his website. Apparently the youtube clip featured was ranked 12th before it was yanked down due to “copyright violations”.

Another good read, because I’m awful at linking towards other websites in normal discussion.

I personally know Joe Rogan from watching the UFC, he’s been doing behind the scenes stuff for them for a lot longer than he’s been commentating. When I learned that he did stand-up comedy, I was a bit surprised. I’d never seen him on TV besides on Fear Factor, so I was kind of curious to hear what his act was like. Some of it I didn’t particularly like, but most of it I thought was great, to sum it up, it’s basically his philosophies on life, with some really funny comedy chucked in. If he came to my hometown I’d see his show in a heartbeat.

Anyways, to the point. I’m personally thinking of doing some stand-up at an amateur night sometime soon. What you need to start is 6 minutes worth of material, and a set of balls to get on stage. I’m just a run of the mill sarcastic smartass, that says some funny shit from time to time when I’m with a group of people. If there’s a major event that happens and it just doesn’t make sense, or strikes me as odd in someway, I make a crack about it. So do all of the other country’s smart-asses, because that’s what we do. A lot of us come to the same conclusion, make a one line funny and call it a day. I think this is fair game and fair use for all comedians, it’s easy to come up with that joke.

So what’s not cool? Someone working on how to take the concept further, making more than just the obvious joke or two, digging into the meat of what’s happening, and creating a set that’s good for laughter, only to have it *borrowed* by someone. When a comedian uses the exact same phrasing, wording, pausing, and pitch to deliver a joke as someone previous, that isn’t all that obvious when looking at the issue that brought out that joke, I’d say that’s stealing.

I personally think stealing is wrong, as do most people, but really, what can anyone do to stop people from stealing their jokes? Being an aspiring songwriter and composer, I’d hate to write a song, only to hear it being played by some other band a few months later with a bigger backing label.

Cover bands are fine, because they don’t claim to have written the songs, and they (are supposed to) write royalty checks to the artists that they’re performing songs from. That’s fine, but have you ever heard a comedian say “Here’s a good joke I’ve heard from Richard Pryor…”? No, because not many people aren’t willing to pay you to tell other people’s jokes. There are no open cover artists in the comic world, that I know of, because the way I see it, people are paying to see that person’s take on the world.

Think of it this way, would you pay someone who billed their act “Dave Chappelle’s best Jokes, as told by Mister Dude”? I’d assume not, but I guess that’s why so many uncreative people feel the need to steal other people’s work in the hopes of being discovered.

So, should I bring a camera to record my first performance?


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