1) If you’re going to steal a joke, start with a bit that wasn’t on the front page of reddit
2) Don’t recite the bit word for word. Throw in the occasional “Am I right?” and “I’m telling you!” so it sounds as hacky as the rest of your material. Be true to your voice.
3) Don’t perform the bit in the city where I started. I’ve got lots of friends there that will call you out, make fun of you, and then tell me what happened. Instead, try the bit in a city where I don’t know any comedians, like Anchorage or Manilla.
4) Break the bit up throughout your set, so it’s harder to notice. In between, throw in your gold about how racist you are to really throw people off the trail.
5) Don’t rush the bit. I know the delivery has got to be tough when you’re just reciting rehearsed material, but try to connect when talking about an experience that you’ve never had. Remember to pause occasionally for the stunned silence of a room full of comedians that know you’re a thief.
6) You have to hit the darker parts harder. When you’re talking about the kids dying, you can’t back off like you did. You’ve got to commit, and have confidence that the line someone else wrote that you pretended to write is truly funny. Otherwise, you appear untrustworthy.
7) Unfriend me on Facebook before you do it. Because you know that I am a big fan of justice in the world, and you don’t want to read that I know what you did and I know who you are. By the way, hello friend! Hope you enjoyed this post. Maybe you should share it on your own wall so your friends and family don’t think it’s about you. But you and I both know, and that is our fun little secret, until I decide it isn’t anymore.
8) Most importantly, know that I was kidding in points 1-7, and don’t ever steal, ever. EVER. When you steal from another comic, you are not only disrespecting them, you are disrespecting yourself. You are publicly admitting that you’re not good enough to write even a few minutes of jokes, let alone write the hours and hours of jokes it takes to sustain a career. If you ever knowingly take even ONE line from another comedian, quit.
Parallel development happens all the time. Tons of us think of the same premises and punchlines as each other because we live in the same world. And I ALWAYS give a comedian the benefit of the doubt on similar material, as it happens to all of us. But there is never, ever an excuse to recite 3 minutes of someone’s act and pass it off as your own. Thought it’s nice that you were a big enough fan to memorize it and not need a notebook.
I’ll post more in the future about how to identify and handle a joke thief. But for now, just don’t be one.