Like any crime, joke stealing is way easier to get away with if not a lot of people actually see or hear you do it. Telling a joke you read on Twitter or watched on YouTube to an open mic audience of six people probably isn't going to make any waves that extend beyond that room. Hell, you could probably get away with doing someone's entire bit.
Looking for an example of a place where you shouldn't perform your pilfered material? Well, in front of a national television audience probably isn't ideal. Obviously, the chances of getting caught committing any crime increase in direct proportion to the number of people watching. Amazingly, a contestant on Australia's Got Talent (Fact: Paul Hogan has won every year since 1986) named Jordan Paris failed to grasp this concept when he appeared on the "talent" contest and performed a routine made up exclusively of jokes he'd seen on YouTube.
Even worse, because he at least had decent taste when it comes to what material to steal, his blatant hackery actually got him to the second round of the competition. It wasn't until after the performance aired that people pointed out that Paris had lifted his entire routine from American comic Geoff Keith and oft-victimized British comic Lee Mack.
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Get off this guy's dick, rest of the world.
To his credit, Paris didn't try to pretend the material wasn't stolen, but that's where the credit for what he did begins and ends, because his explanation was actually far worse. According to Paris, who wrote the joke is of no concern, it's all in how you deliver it. That's a pretty bold defense, considering that he delivered those stolen jokes in the exact same way as the other comics, right down to how they moved around the stage. The only extra funny he brought to either bit was a set of comically oversized teeth, the likes of which haven't been seen since Mister Ed was still on the air.
In all fairness, the horse didn't write his own jokes either.
Paris also made the insane argument that what he did is no different from when a friend forwards you a joke via text message and you forward it along to someone else. First of all, you're not winning any sympathy by outing yourself as the asshole who forwards jokes via text message. Beyond that, forwarded jokes don't usually get you in front of a national audience to compete for cash and prizes, so it's a stupid comparison.
Because they really had no choice, Jordan Paris was in fact allowed to return again with material of his own.
He bombed so hard that one judge literally told him to stick to stealing other people's stuff (no, it wasn't Keith Chegwin). Also, it was pointed out a few short days later that the first joke he told was stolen from Jeff Ross.
When all else failed, Jordan Paris leaned on the old "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" argument, completely ignoring the fact that calling what he did "imitation" is like calling a home invasion "unexpected house guests."
At the time of his tragic and untimely death from a stroke in 2011, Patrice O'Neal was one of the funniest comics working and possibly the funniest. However, while he definitely seemed to be on the cusp of something bigger when he passed, he hadn't quite achieved the household name recognition of comics like Louis C.K. or Jim Gaffigan.
That said, he did have a lot of fans, which was apparently news to YouTube "sensation" Kain Carter, who stole so much Patrice O'Neal material, it takes a 15-minute video (which is like four hours in Internet time) to document it all.
He didn't just steal jokes from Patrice O'Neal comedy albums; he stole jokes from podcasts, talk show appearances, and anything else that might have involved Patrice O'Neal and speaking.
That jacket is the best.
If Kain Carter had an IMDb page, his credits would probably include a season of Arrested Development.
If you watched the video posted above, you know the evidence against Carter is pretty damning. If you didn't, then you still know it is because I just told you and you know I wouldn't lie to you. Honestly, though, what kind of excuse could even be left for getting caught stealing red-handed? We've already had all the classics: "Parallel thought," "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," "fuck you, stealing is fine" -- that pretty much runs the gamut of "reasonable" explanations. So what did Kain Carter come up with? This:
If you don't have the two minutes to watch it (you don't), what you're missing is Carter explaining that, when he steals a joke or "an entire video verbatim" (his words), he's simply acting as a vessel through which Patrice O'Neal's voice can live on. As poetic as that may be, it's a bunch of goddamn nonsense. Patrice O'Neal wasn't telling jokes in the 1850s or anything. His bits aren't mysteriously pounded into the side of ancient tombs like hieroglyphics. He's got albums you can buy and videos you can watch and podcasts you can download, and none of that shit has Kain Carter's voice on it. You probably still wouldn't even know who Kain Carter is if all that stuff wasn't available. If you're looking to keep Patrice O'Neal's "message of truth and righteousness" alive, as Carter put it, just buy one of his DVDs and keep the messages about titty meat and all that other fun stuff alive as well.
Anyway, when the "Patrice Whisperer" defense didn't take, Carter came back with another video, except he was mad and stuff this time, because that makes sense. His response to the controversy has been so absurd that there are even parody videos of it popping up on YouTube:
Meanwhile, if you really want to keep the memory of Patrice O'Neal alive, just buy the album he has coming out on October 1.