Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

In-Depth Opinion Piece: Joke Theft

I've been reading a lot about the concept of "Joke Theft" recently, it's a fairly interesting thing to think about.

I don't know if anyone's ever read the "Author's Info" or whatever in the Index Section of this blog-ee-oh-lee before but in that description of myself (which is mostly STOLEN verbatim from words Beetlejuice has said over the years)...I say something along the lines of "if you read something you like in this blog you can steal it if you want, I don't care" and then I stated a joke to finish that section off which went "If I was President I'd legalize stealing!" which is of course something I STOLE verbatim from a Rudy Ray Moore joke off of the album "Dolemite for President."

So yeah, I have an open attitude towards stealing of read-words by readers, or the stealing of heard-words by listeners, I'm not super offended by the whole idea of something I thought out and wrote being read and said/wrote by someone else. Why? Because that's what humans do.

I hope people understand by now that we evolved from monkeys and the saying "Monkey See - Monkey Do" really rings true for our kind. We learn from observing and we try things for ourselves through the act of mimicking things we've seen/heard/etc before. Stealing things we observe is literally what Humans do...that's the reason why we're the top species on earth is because we're really good at emulating and learning from each other.

There's no way around the stealing of "bits" or "jokes" or "concepts" or "ideas" because that's what we do. That's the cold hard facts.

Even though this isn't a popular publication I have goin' over here, have I ever been sorta angry when I've seen something I've wrote...100% verbatim....re-produced on some other medium...and sometimes on a BIG medium? Yeah, I guess. I mean, I do think some people  rip stuff off from this shitty obscure blog from time to time and some are pretty fucking famous to be honest....but even then...there's this sort of feeling of "WOW, that person reads this shit!? Cool" that goes on too. I'd say, all in all, seeing my ideas absorbed and re-vomitted back through another brain isn't that offensive to me.

I will say this:

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO ABSORB THE CONCEPTS/IDEAS YOU EXPOSE YOURSELF TO.

If you grew up in the jungle away from any other humans and never learned to read/write and speak/understand any language then you'd be able to create without influence. Even then your creations would be based on things you've seen monkeys or wolves or something do in the wild. You'd make like bone-carvings out of animals you ate that look like trees or bugs you saw. Even a jungle-boy/jungle-girl, when you think about it, couldn't free themselves from outside influence.

What about a cave person? A child who grew up in a dark dark Patmos-style cave of some sort? You know, like a Poor Little Blind Girl, you know? A cave so dark she never learned to see, a cave so quiet that the poor girl never learned to hear? She eats mud and dirt and stuff. She knows "nothing about everything" but "everything about nothing"? Could she live an influence-free life? Yeah, maybe.

But us? Regular non-FacelessMay and non-N.Senada brand of humans? Can we live influence free lifestyles? NO! Us regulation non-cave-isolated humans have to abide by the laws of Monkey See and Monkey Do.....so get used to it.

If something works? We use it. If someone thinks up a good way to pick meat out of teeth, or get olives down from olive trees, or how to get from point a to point b faster....everyone will start doing it that way. Why? Because it's the best way to do it....and it works.

Look, I understand in the artistic world that intellectual property rights and identity exist and am not 100% for theft but I just want to show how hard it is not be a thief and many who accuse others of theft should think about how much shit they've stolen.

As a person who loves history, it's SUPER RARE that I can watch something and not say to myself...."oh that's like what whats-their-name does." A lot of things that "work" in show business are used for that reason...they work. You can get to the root of a lot of things that "work" and find out that these methods have been done for centuries.


Extreme Cases

I'd say I side with the defendant in about 70% of joke-theft cases. Due to the laws of Monkey See and Monkey Do...and knowing how hard it is not to be influenced by the world around you...I usually give the defendant leeway when reading about these cases and trying to form an opinion on it.

Sometimes, the case is so extreme that it's just ludicrous though. About 30% of theft cases are too effronterous to accept. I'm gonna throw out a few examples.

Jerry Lewis was A HUGE ACT back in the day and he had copy cats galore but none to the level of Sammy Petrillo who copied his voice, mannerisms, facial contorts, and hairstyle. Observe:


Petrillo, Bela Lugosi, and a Gorilla star in......oh boy.

I watched this movie the other day and it's actually pretty fucking good....but if I was Jerry Lewis....I'm sure I'd be fucking pissed that Petrillo is basically trying to pass himself off as being Jerry Lewis. It's not just a little theft here and little nip there....it's like ALL of his STUFF being ripped off.

Mitch
Another case that I find offensive was young comic Mitch Mullany (who I first saw as "White Mike" on Wayans Brothers). Mitch died in 2008 and then the very next year a guy showed up and did Mitch's act in clubs....WORD FOR WORD....and ACTION FOR ACTION. Literally stealing the whole thing under the pretense of "oh well, he's dead, he doesn't need this act anymore." Because of the untimely death of the 39 year old Mullany...this theft that I read about really stood out as being extreme and fucking stupid. It's the blatant disrespect for the young man's death.

Even though I'm usually okay with borrowing, learning, adapting, and outright stealing material....there's some extreme cases where obviously it went WAY too far.

Yet on the opposite end....


Accusers Actin' the Fool

For someone to claim theft they must first claim to own whatever was stolen...and I've seen over the years people claim ownership to things that have made me think...."Really? you OWN that? How?"

I heard an interview once where, I think it was Jim Breuer, telling a story about how on SNL....the host was Matthew Perry and Perry was working on a bit with Norm MacDonald. Apparently, Perry wanted the bit to center around something he INVENTED called "Chandler-Speak" and Norm asked him what that was and after hearing Perry's explanation....witnesses claim Norm's response was....."Oh, you mean sarcasm?"

Yeah, it's pretty grandiose and...let's face it....retarded for Matthew Perry to claim to have invented sarcasm. That's beyond the pale. It really is beyond the pale.


Another one that got me scratching my head was a feud between Louis C.K. and Dane Cook. Now look, I know in comedy circles Dane Cook is like public enemy number one...but his target audience is a female audience and he works pretty well with that. I'm male (aged 25-35) and thus he's not my thing but I don't necessarily hate on the dude. I don't find him funny but I don't really dislike him as much as C.K., I mean with C.K.....this guy's bits are mostly penis-stuff, gross-out stuff, and other mundane shit that's standard fare....and yet somehow....Louis C.K. fans seem to think he invented penis jokes and things like that. I'm not sure a person can claim intellectual property patents on "My Ass Itches. Oh my god, my ass itches!" or "you're a penis-face!" or "I want to masturbate!" or "I wanna name my kid something funny!"



Naming your kid something funny? Wow that's original ass shit there Louis n' Dane. You both stole it.


Can you imagine a patent court setting and the plaintiff walks up and says..."Your honor, the defendant STOLE the concept of naming children funny names...and then had the nerve to talk about having an itchy butt!!" Yeah, okay there.

Speaking of Beavis and Butthead, Mike Judge once said people saying the words "[something] sucks" are ripping him off but I've seen that said in movies back in the 60s even. A good example that everyone's seen is GhostBusters where Bill Murray says something sucks a minimum of twice in the film. I like Mike Judge, and consider Beavis and Butthead to maybe be the greatest show of all time, but he did NOT invent the term of "[something] sucks." No way, Jose.

I can't find the clip from G-Bustas so here's him in Scrooged (circa 1988) using the term as well...

"Oh my gosh...does that suck."

The point of this section is....if someone is accusing someone of stealing then they are thus claiming ownership of a concept and claiming to literally OWN sarcasm, something sucking, itchy anuses, and other mundane things is pretty absurd to say the least.

It's naive too, I mean how can Perry for example really believe he invented sarcasm? What kind of an idiot can he be? Could he be any more of an idiot?

Rising to the Top

I don't want to hurt nobody's feelings or nothing, but it's safe to say that people at the top are not necessarily the most talented...but the most expert of thieves. Ninjas, even, if you will.

Word to the wise....just steal from more obscure sources and you should be safe from heat. Steal from weird-ass blogs, shit your co-workers say, guys from bars or the street...those are safe ass sources, g. No doubt.

I was watching that "Last Comic Standing" the other day and this Indian chick's opening joke was taken from the stupid "Epic Beard Man" video of that drunken maniac assaulting people on a bus. That video has been seen by millions of people....do you really think that's an obscure enough source to rob material from? Are you fucking stupid?

I watched an episode of a really shit Canadian show called "The Air Farce" once where they literally robbed a bit from SNL about Elton John almost 100% verbatim. Stealing from SNL is going to make a lot of people go..."wait a sec, I've seen this before...gimme a break." It's not a very hard to trace source.

You think the pros steal from things millions and millions of people are familiar with? NO! They get their "influences" from stuff maybe like 10-1000 people are familiar with...those 10-1000 people get mad that they recognize the bit-theft but there's still millions and millions of other viewers who don't get mad....those millions think it's wicked cool.


Conclusion

Basically, we have two choices....

A) Play off each other, learn from each other, share concepts with each other...and sadly...STEAL from each other. 

or....
  
B) Live in a cave like N. Senada or that poor poor little blind girl from that Nomeansno song "Faceless May" and never be influenced by anything other than the feeling of cold on our sightless, audio-less, smell-less bodies.

I don't know 'bout you but I'm not going to live in some fucking cave. Fuck that shit.



(END NOTE: If everyone tries to have no influences all we'll have is surreal/absurdist comedy like the Williams Street people make. I like those shows but I wouldn't rank absurdist humor at the top of the list of comedy, to be honest. Wackiness can get old fast, the format is usually like 10 minute shows with the Williams cartoons. You can't work topical, or have a message with absurdist/surreal humor. Tim and Eric work over-the-top absurdist and it's original that's for sure but it wouldn't hurt them to have like a bit of structure. That "Bag Boy" of Steve Brule's show which had a story to it and thus some structure was one of the best things they've ever made, by far.

To achieve super-originality through absurdity and nonsense is often really really funny and it's unlikely someone will say "I've seen that before" while watching it...but it's like abstract art a bit...it's just whacky shit everywhere with no rhythm or reason. )


(
END NOTE 2: Conan is in the news for being sued for joke theft and the guy wants 600K, i don't know what value jokes have, I know Rodney and old timers paid the kids in the hall of clubs money for jokes, and I know Jackie Martling devised some joke-value system with Rodney that is not very scientific sounding ("I borrowed 1000 bucks from [Rodney] but I paid it back in JOKES").

That guy suing Conan, I don't know how someone can put something into the public sphere for everyone to absorb and then want 600K from people. If you wanted that joke to be TOP SECRET...THEN DON'T FUCKING TWEET IT, FUCK! If it's secret data worth 600K to you then why put it in the public for EVERYONE to see? Why not keep that six hundred thousand dollars worth of jokes under lock and key at the bottom of the sea...where no one can take it from you?


Also that dude "Fat Jew" guy is getting hype from joke theft, there's so much buzz around him and I'm pretty sure he paid for the buzz. Why everyone is helping him get buzz by talking about him endlessly is beyond me. They don't like him but they are giving him all the attention humanly possible.)


(Amendment: I re-found and re-read that datum where Mike Judge claims to have invented stuff sucking...and it seems to maybe be a joke. I'm unsure but decide for yourself: (John K. interviews Mike J.)

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