Good Artists Borrow...
...he also has to worry, daily, about how and when he's going to be found out as a joke stealer.
There seems to be a different code of ethics for each job out there. For example, I can take, borrow, and steal anything regarding Network Administration. Hell, I'd be lauded for it. "Look, he's doing it correctly!" But comedians have to create everything from scratch. They have to mine the funny. They can't take it at face value, they certainly can't take segments from other people.
Except, you know, when Carlos Mencia does it. I'm sure you've seen or heard about the Joe Rogan confrontation. And today I see how Carlos has stolen a classic bit from Bill Cosby.
And it makes me sad. Because as awesome as that profession is, there is very little done in the copyright arena for jokes. The joke thieves rarely, if ever, get caught. Which is why this whole Mencia thing is such a big deal--he's getting his ass handed to him, his reputation in the toilet, because he couldn't come up with the bits himself.
I wonder, now that people are actively looking, how many bits we'll find that he's profited from? Tens? Hundreds? More?
As an author over at StarCityGames I can't just take another persons' concept, even if they didn't fully flesh it out, and do so myself. I need to create a new angle or new idea about said concept. I'd get eaten alive if I tried to pass off one of Mike Flores' concepts as my own. I'd lose respect. And in small circles, such as the Magic community, respect counts for a lot.
And in Comedy, when you're out there in the hotel rooms and the skeezy comedy joints, it counts for even more. Hell, your career can depend on the respect you receive from your peers.
Do you want to risk that? Do you dare risk that?
Carlos Mencia has already taken that risk and did so many years ago. But today, in today's society, he's slowly paying the price. Ratings dropping, friends bailing out, the media given free reign to poke at him with video evidence of his failures.
It's both sad and fitting. For a thief to be punished by his own theft, there is no greater poetic justice.