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Topic: Original/Stolen/Borrowed Materials & Themes
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 29, 2008 07:19PM)
Because this topic came up on the AGT thread, I thought it would be a good subject worthy of its own heading.

Dale Brown's comedy writing lecture at VentHaven was very interesting. At the start of the lecture, he said something about using a line here and there was one thing - using another's entire routine was considered stealing. Some people disagree and think every line should be original and others see no problem with taking material from other performers, books, DVD's, TV, etc.

The only way to really stop that is to create comedy that is so based on your character that no one else could use it. Unfortunately that is extremely difficult and not even the top guys in the business can do it constantly.

Hopefully this will be a very active topic and we'll get a lot of views to consider!
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jul 29, 2008 08:23PM)
As you know, I was at that lecture too and completely agree. I know I am trying to do more and more of that and staying away from "stock" material.

It isn't easy, but it is a target worth striving for!
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jul 29, 2008 08:32PM)
I, too, am slowly staying away from stock material and putting in more "in character" bits. I think that's the only way to really develop material that will be "unstealable" by other performers.

I remember the great comic Bill Cosby once dared other comics to steal his acts--because they can't, even if they wanted! If you see Cosby's acts, he very rarely used jokes! He used funny stories that only he can tell effectively.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jul 29, 2008 09:07PM)
I think that the "stealing" thing so to speak is a virus spreading not just in the vent community but even in the magic community. While props are commercially available and can be bought by anyone, the patter and routine are most of the time stolen by someone who has seen your act.

In the vent community, a newbie is more prone to stealing or copying. But surprisingly, I have also seen even pros copying other pros.

The best thing to do is really create your own materials out of personal experiences...but having time tested "stock" material just to get the laugh started might also help.

I was just offered a 30 minute TV segment to be aired once a week, God willing, it will be by September or October. I will be doing a lot of Joke Book hunting just to get some stock materials ready but the main thing will rely more on ADLIBS... we will shoot a mock episode soon...no guarantees yet that its green and go but Im keeping my fingers crossed and praying that I get the project.

Ony...HELP!!! :)
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 30, 2008 06:49AM)
When I switched over to vent, I had the unfortunate problem of having to earn a living during the change. As a result, "stock lines" and themes that never fail to draw a laugh were placed into my scripts around original material. The show slowly built up and has evolved into my own personal mess.

If you watch David Pendleton's DVD, (who I admire) - he does bits that Jimmy Nelson used to do - and uses "joke book" material that has been modified for his show. He never mentions the source of the material - and I didn't even realize it until I saw clips of Jimmy performing. Would one accuse him of stealing from Jimmy? Or paying tribute? How would you determine the difference?
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 30, 2008 08:15AM)
Jokes are considered Public Domain...Milton Berle wrote most of them anyway or they are a thousand years old. Jokes you haven't heard are NEW jokes...all others are ANCIENT...it's a given. Jokes are and always have been made to be repeated.

Routines are not public domain. Characters are not Public Domain.
Message: Posted by: Neale Bacon (Jul 30, 2008 12:52PM)
For those that are interested - I emailed Micheal Harrison about the routine he did, and mentioned that the family was under the impression he used Peter's material.
I did mention I am sure he didn't do it intentionally and it may have even been parellel thinking or just Peter's influence.
I explained that the family were upset and just wanted to know. I asked if he could email me so I could let the family know what was up.

No answer yet.
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jul 30, 2008 03:46PM)
[quote]
On 2008-07-30 09:15, Doug Higley wrote:
Jokes are considered Public Domain... Routines are not public domain.[/quote]

What if a routine is consist of a series of "public domain" jokes? Is that routine considered public domain?

I also use "street jokes" or these so-called "public domain" jokes... I'm not against using them. But I wish performers don't use the jokes they see others IN THEIR AREA already using regularly. I know we can't stop these performers from using them... but there are a million other jokes they can use if they will just research.
Message: Posted by: Ony Carcamo (Jul 30, 2008 04:18PM)
By the way, Wanlu, my friend... you can always hire me as scriptwriter! Haha! :)
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jul 30, 2008 05:27PM)
A 'routine' is the unique stringing together of ideas (and unoriginal joke material) into a cohesive 'unit' of performance...it can contain 'old jokes' (All jokes are old jokes) but put them in a new context or light that should be the domain of the creator of the routine. Just my opinion...not necessarily widely accepted...if you think you are stealing then you're stealing. If you feel you have been creative in designing the routine, maybe you are. If somebody else thinks you're stealing, maybe you did, maybe you didn't...if EVERYBODY else thinks you're stealing then...Tap Dance and Juggle. (Not steal-a-ble.)
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Jul 30, 2008 09:05PM)
In vent, I use only original material. However, I think Doug is right: some jokes are so old that they are in the public domain. Even then I adapt the joke to the character.

On occasion, I have heard a line used by another performer that would fit one of my characters. I contact the performer to request permission (and offer payment) to use the line. Without exception, the performers have refused payment and granted permission to use the line. And, without exception, they have appreciated my asking.

Long before Bill DeMar released his Tape Over Mouth routine, I figured it out and wanted to perform it. I contacted Bill and purchased the performance rights from him. Of course, I also received valuable tips from Bill on how to do it. I'm aware of other performers who figured out the trick and simply started doing the routine. I like to think that they will now "officially" buy the rights from Bill.

Bob
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Jul 30, 2008 10:18PM)
[quote]
On 2008-07-30 13:52, Neale Bacon wrote:
For those that are interested - I emailed Micheal Harrison about the routine he did, and mentioned that the family was under the impression he used Peter's material.
I did mention I am sure he didn't do it intentionally and it may have even been parellel thinking or just Peter's influence.
I explained that the family were upset and just wanted to know. I asked if he could email me so I could let the family know what was up.

No answer yet.
[/quote]

Hi Nelae,

I think you did the right thing :) Lets hope he emails you back...I'm dying to find out what his reply will be.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Jul 31, 2008 07:51AM)
Bob,
Great post. I've had several occasions where an idea is sparked by another performer. After taking the time to script out the concept, I contact them and request permission. The new script is always included so they can see I'm not just copying their bit, but have actually thought it out to fit my act.

Each time, the performer has been honored that I liked their routine and appreciated that I contacted them to request permission. I've never had one say no - but if they did, that script would never be used.

As one of the guys who purchased Bill DeMar's T.O.M., I also hope people will pay for the license. Lee Cornell told me they are now only licensing 25 people. Not sure how many have already been sold. It is worth the fee just to know you have the rights.

Doing things correctly in this business is pretty easy. Its a matter of respect for yourself and others.
Message: Posted by: Bob Baker (Aug 1, 2008 12:32PM)
Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I agree with your sentiments completely.

Let us know how it goes with Tape Over Mouth.

Bob