Stealing Stand-up Comedy Material: A Big No No

It’s a really sad state of affairs when…

A comedian takes it upon themselves to steal comedy material from other comedians.

Unfortunately, it’s a reality in stand-up comedy.

Any comedian who has the ability to effectively deliver stand-up comedy material on stage should never have to resort to stealing comedy material — ever (make sure you check out the video at the bottom of this article that covers how to prevent theft of your stand-up comedy material).

So, why does it happen?

It happens because…

Comedians who are “joke thieves” really don’t know how to quickly and easily develop their own original comedy material.

And I have to tell you that this condition does not surprise me at all, given the fact that most comedians are stuck trying to write “jokes” the hard way.

I will be the very first to tell you that conventional joke writing is not only very difficult, but even the most popular comedy teachers can’t seem to teach folks how to “write jokes”. I know I can’t and I don’t pretend that I can.

So I do not show comedians how to write jokes.

I show them how to structure what they want to talk about on stage.

There’s a huge difference between that and trying to write jokes one at a time the hard way, which is like trying to dig a swimming pool with a spoon.

When I was actively performing, I have seen comedians perform small pieces of my own comedy material — word for word — while I was sitting in the audience. And yes, I did approach them about it after the show.

There is also a big difference between stealing a comedian’s material and parallel thinking, which can result in the development of very similar stand-up comedy material.

By the nature of stand-up comedy itself, comedians must talk about things that all audience members can understand. Subsequently, there can be some overlap with the development of very similar material.

But if you are developing stand-up comedy material that is personal to you, you should have relative few issues with parallel thinking material.

The bottom line:

Don’t steal another comedian’s comedy material. Take the time to educate yourself on how to develop your own high level comedy material.

It is really not that hard to do IF you have comedy talent and you are using the techniques and strategies in the Killer Stand-up Online Course.

Related Video And Article Link:

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13 Replies to “Stealing Stand-up Comedy Material: A Big No No”

  1. If your act is unique enough then joke stealing is nothing to worry about. Comedy is all about the delivery! They may take the joke but they will NEVER deliver it like you did…unless that person is a damn good actor.

  2. According to these two law professors, courts pretty much refuse to recognize jokes as intellectual property or punish those who steal jokes from comedians, no matter how clear cut the facts are, so it’s basically up to the comedy community to prevent joke stealing. This is mainly done by making pariahs of known joke thieves (along with the occasional beat down).

    • I can certainly understand this PROVIDED a comedian has taken no formal action to protect their comedy material, such as writing up a one person act and submitting it to WGA (costs $20). They then have the same legal protection as any other play, screenplay, movie script or whatever via WGA. FYI.

  3. If you heard a comedian’s routine (only once), about how people can say a particular phrase at inappropriate times and ways. Then you honestly, have someone say that phrase inappropriately to you and you joke about that experience from stage. Is that stealing another comedian’s material? To me, its not. I am not doing his routine. I am telling a story of what someone said personally to me! Where does a comedian draw the line?

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