Joke Stealing: The Upside

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

…So wrote Upton Sinclair. What a great line. It’s witty and insightful. Steal it. Use it. Everybody does. That’s why it’s so famous.

I used to sell clothes to people who had shops for a friend of mine. I sold T-shirts and fleeces with designs on them, drawn by my friend, who was a talented and funny artist.

Her designs got ripped off a few times by greetings card companies, but there was one design that was just un-stealable.

It was so her style, you’d have to rip the whole thing off, which would mean becoming her. Which was impossible.

I’ve noticed if I want to tell a Johnny Vegas joke, or a Dom Irrera joke, or a Mike Wilmot joke, or a Rich Hall* joke to someone, I pretty much have to mimic the comedian in question.

It’s like an anti-piracy device built in to the material. You have to add the persona (and thereby crediting the creator).

I don’t quite know what it all means, but if you make a thing that’s as utterly nickable and costless to steal as a great joke, you may as well get something out of it. Like Upton Sinclair. You might read some of his other stuff now.

Couple of thoughts:

1) Is there any way you can inject a bit more you into your more spreadable stuff?

2) And which of your lines only work when you’re behind it? Maybe that’s a signpost to your next joke**.

People used to tell me there was a guy on the circuit doing one of my jokes (good luck with that!). He’s probably in another line of work now.

I reckon if the joke was so steal-able, my mission should be to make the next thing I come up with more unique to me. It’s about the only thing I can control.

Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely try and sue if I thought I could get some dosh out of it, and I’m sure there’d be lawyer out there willing to take my money to try, even if it was futile.

It’s difficult to get a person to see the futility of a thing when their income depends on them not seeing it.

*There he is again! Sorry, regular readers!

**This is just my home-spun rubbish. Remember the Golden Rule – don’t listen to anyone!