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Mencia Jr.
May 1, 2010 9:02 AM   Subscribe

We've talked about joke thieves before. The latest victim of hackery is Patton Oswalt. Mr. Oswalt received some videos of a comedy routine that show small-time actor/comedian Nick Madson repeating jokes by Patton, David Cross, Maria Bamford, and many others almost verbatim -- including the famous KFC Bowls routine. Nick wrote to Patton, claiming it was all a misunderstanding, but Patton dug a little deeper and found out that Madson's excuses were BS. Oswalt previously. Multiple videos, some with NSFW language
posted by Saxon Kane (138 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
Myspace, seriously?
posted by delmoi at 9:05 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well...that's weird. I'm not 100% aware of what's happening in stand-up right now, but since even I have heard the KFC routine, I can't imagine thinking no one at a club would know it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:09 AM on May 1, 2010


I hadn't heard it. But if that "KFC Bowls routine" is famous and popular enough to be worth stealing, you guys need some better comedy.
posted by pracowity at 9:11 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's mainly famous because of the following brilliant turn of phrase:

"failure pile in a sadness bowl."
posted by empath at 9:13 AM on May 1, 2010 [13 favorites]


Myspace?? Well, I never!!

*bathes self in lye*

This was the best part of Oswalt's response:
No problem trying to make the Hilltop Theater seem like it's "struggling", when it's not. No problem passively trying to make me seem like the villain. No problem putting as many torsos between you and the bullets.

A lie to defend thievery.

We need to become close friends, you and I. And fast. You're going to be running Hollywood in 5 years.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, how I love Patton Oswalt. Mr. Madson fucked with the wrong comic.
posted by defenestration at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's really striking about the Nick Madson iteration of Oswalt's routines is the polite chuckling and uncomfortable titters that greets him. When Oswalt delivers the exact same material, he kills. Because he is funny.

First lesson for young comedian: don't steal.

Second lesson: if you're not funny, even stealing won't help.
posted by Elsa at 9:15 AM on May 1, 2010 [21 favorites]


pracowity, don't just snark... actually recommend some stuff.
posted by defenestration at 9:25 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


If this is anyone other than Steve Allen, you're stealing my bit!
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


Izzard?
posted by pracowity at 9:27 AM on May 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I never knew that Patton Oswald was an Insane Clown Posse fan.
posted by Dagobert at 9:27 AM on May 1, 2010


Myspace, seriously?

He explained why he blogs at MySpace in the entry announcing the birth of his daughter:

MySpace has become a neglected strip mall, which is slowly going out of business because someone built a shiny new mega-mall just down the street. Every now and then you stop by because abandoned, derelict buildings have a weird beauty to them. Have you been over to Friendster lately? The rats are so tame they’ll let you pet ‘em. So think of this as me taping up a discreet flyer in the window of the sketchy Chinese restaurant next to the dollar movie theater where they’re still showing THE WILD WILD WEST. I want to announce this, but people are going to have to pack a sandwich and drive somewhere to find it.
posted by moxiedoll at 9:28 AM on May 1, 2010 [45 favorites]


What's really striking about the Nick Madson iteration of Oswalt's routines is the polite chuckling and uncomfortable titters that greets him

I'm willing to bet a large amount of that reaction was due to some audience members' familiarity with the material. Sure, Patton Oswalt's jokes may not be instantly recognizable by an entire audience, but the KFC Bowls bit and its "failure pile in a sadness bowl" catchphrase is certainly one that sticks in your head even if you'd only heard it once. (The Black Angus routine with "here comes the gravy pipe" and "Our doors are locked from the outside" is a lesser one.) I'm not fully acquainted with all of Patton's routines, but damned if I'll always remember those catchphrases.

The one good thing that came out of all this was an amazing display of Internet Place-Putting, which was handled brilliantly. The kid having the audacity to claim he writes for the guys he just ganked coupled by the lie-filled apology was one hell of a setup, and Patton delivered the punchline flawlessly.
posted by Spatch at 9:30 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


He explained why he blogs at MySpace in the entry announcing the birth of his daughter

I just wanna say here that for a while there he was getting so overexposed, and expressing so many opinions re: fanboy material that I bitterly disagreed with, that I couldn't stand the guy -- but that right there is the kinda thing that's why I can't stay mad at Patton Oswalt. His delivery is natural and off-the-cuff enough that you don't realize how well he writes until you see his stuff in cold print.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:35 AM on May 1, 2010


Until we have live streaming video of spammers being caned, I will have to content myself with the delicious spectacle of plagiarists being publicly humiliated. I might actually feel a little bit bad for the guy, were he not so shameless in his attempts to weasel his way out of being caught red-handed.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:39 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hadn't heard it. But if that "KFC Bowls routine" is famous and popular enough to be worth stealing, you guys need some better comedy.

Just hear patton do it before you say everything sucks.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:42 AM on May 1, 2010


You know, I can see Patton being annoyed.

It's still not a good thing to insult another man by calling him after a woman's clitoris. Because that's implying that you don't think a clitoris is an awesome thing. And if you are a straight man, and you don't think a clitoris is an awesome thing, you should be banned from the beds of women.
posted by jb at 9:49 AM on May 1, 2010 [41 favorites]


"Is this something I'd have to own a sense of humor to understand?"
— pracowity
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:52 AM on May 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


I hadn't heard it. But if that "KFC Bowls routine" is famous and popular enough to be worth stealing, you guys need some better comedy.
posted by pracowity at 9:11 AM on May 1


Mmm yes I prefer Eurocomedy such as popular British show "Spank My Bottom Mrs. Feathercastle" and Czech stand-up star "Milos!"
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:59 AM on May 1, 2010 [34 favorites]


Mr. Madson fucked with the wrong comic.

It's never wise to fuck with any comic. It just isn't. If I had to single out a single crowd of people to NOT fuck with, it would be comics, outranking the likes of pro football players, Hollywood agents, on-the-lamb war criminals and hitmen as people you do not want gunning for you. They have after all mastered sarcasm.

Myspace, seriously?

I went there last night for the first time in ages. Some friend urged me to check out a Black Prairie song that was apparently only available there. The song wouldn't load.
posted by philip-random at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Myspace post bugs me less than the all-Courier post.
posted by Evilspork at 10:03 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


EUROCOMEDY TIME OF LAUGHING BEGIN

Hello it is me, Milos. Have you been to new bread factory? I am not all together joking when I say it is unusually large. It is unusually large to a degree that even cirrhotic abdomen of village alcoholic Jiri could fit comfortably inside.

And do not get me started on food of national airline. Have you eaten the food of national airline? No? Neither have I for I must subsist on only nine hundred koruna every month. Still, I will postulate that it is of inferior quality. Thank you and good nights.

EUROCOMEDY TIME OF LAUGHING END
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:06 AM on May 1, 2010 [116 favorites]


A lot of Milos' humor is in wordplay. In the original Czech, those two jokes are original and hilarious.
posted by graventy at 10:09 AM on May 1, 2010 [27 favorites]


Of course he stole the KFC bit, that's because he never could have gotten away with stealing Fucksquatch.
posted by zinc saucier at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


MySpace has become a neglected strip mall, which is slowly going out of business because someone built a shiny new mega-mall just down the street. Every now and then you stop by because abandoned, derelict buildings have a weird beauty to them. Have you been over to Friendster lately? The rats are so tame they’ll let you pet ‘em. So think of this as me taping up a discreet flyer in the window of the sketchy Chinese restaurant next to the dollar movie theater where they’re still showing THE WILD WILD WEST. I want to announce this, but people are going to have to pack a sandwich and drive somewhere to find it.

That is f-ing awesome and it reminds me ... about 5 years back, I had a roommate who kept trying to force me to get a MS account. I always refused, and then some particularly weird night I came home hammered wanting to keep drinking and she had a bottle of whiskey in the freezer. She let me drink it but made me promise to join MS the next day ... which I totally flaked on. I'd like to open an account now, steal this explanation and email it to her, just to mess with her head. We haven't even talked in a couple years. MMmmmm, deliciously random.
posted by mannequito at 10:27 AM on May 1, 2010


She let me drink it but made me promise to join MS the next day


This is also how people join Facebook but it is with cocaine.
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


In Societ Russia, the jokes steal hack comedians!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:32 AM on May 1, 2010


oh hell yes, Izzard is 100x funnier than Oswalt.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The issue of joke stealing among comics also came up in a recent podcast interview with Robin Williams by comedian Marc Maron (Maron's podcast, entitled WTF, is quite good btw). Basically, Williams admitted that he had unconsciously absorbed certain material back in the day, and had actually paid other comics b/c of it. But surprisingly, Williams does not come off any lesser for this admission. Worth a listen.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:45 AM on May 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Williams for notorious for it. The story is that if he walked into a club, the comedians would go backstage and warn other comedians, who would revert back to older material, because it was a well-known fact that if you did a new joke that was funny, you'd hear Williams do it on television a week later, and there was no way you could ever do the joke again without people thinking it was his.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is totally outrageous. Fantomex is not a villain!

What the hell dude?
posted by oddman at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


All these Patton Oswalt clips are making me hyperventilate. "...a fogbank of twat-mist..." holy shit
posted by dubitable at 10:50 AM on May 1, 2010


oh hell yes, Izzard is 100x funnier than Oswalt.

Non-sequiter with subtext of superiority GO!
posted by cmoj at 10:52 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


The story is... it was a well-known fact

Well, in fairness it's very hard separating out the legends, myths, and anecdotes from the facts of what really went down in this case. This happens a lot with music too, as in: "such-and-such an artist stole such-and-such a riff from this other artist," etc. But I recommend listening to the interview I linked to.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:55 AM on May 1, 2010


Information wants to be free, right?
posted by adipocere at 10:57 AM on May 1, 2010


She let me drink it but made me promise to join MS the next day


This is also how people join Facebook but it is with cocaine.



I had to laugh at this because I was encouraged to sign up for a LiveJournal account by several friends I used to do E with way back when.
posted by Randwulf at 10:58 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Two best bits from Madson's website:

impressions (South Park, Dudley Moore, Ross Perot, The Ladies Man)


Videos
Videos coming soon!

posted by activitystory at 11:00 AM on May 1, 2010


From Mr. Madson's resume:

Special Skills:

Voice-overs, Accents (French, German, Hungarian, British, Irish, Scottish), rifles, shotguns, handguns, impressions (South Park, Dudley Moore, Ross Perot, The Ladies Man), stilt walking, drives stick, baseball, football, tennis, golf, basketball, snow skiing, conducting, web spinning



.
posted by farishta at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I say we recruit Patton Oswalt for the MeFi Detective Squad.

What a thorough takedown (second to last link in the FPP) of the asshole thief, Nick Madson.
posted by ericb at 11:06 AM on May 1, 2010


Drives stick? DRIVES STICK? THAT'S A SPECIAL SKILL!?!?!?!
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:07 AM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nick Madson on MySpace Comedy and Facebook.
posted by ericb at 11:10 AM on May 1, 2010


What does Izzard have to do with any of this?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2010


Am I the only one that's hungry now?
posted by Max Power at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2010


Sadly, I know tons of people who can't drive stick. It *is* a special skill.
posted by the dief at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2010


Man, I wouldn't be able to identify the vast majority of Oswalt's material, but I know he has a bit about the KFC bowl. I was all "How the hell are you going to get away with stealing what is arguably someone's most famous bit?" and then I got to the part where the guy said he was a writer for various comedians.

Maaaaaaan, that's genius.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2010


impressions (South Park, Dudley Moore, Ross Perot,

If he steals my impression of 1980 Independent presidential candidate John Anderson, HE IS A FUCKING DEAD MAN!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:31 AM on May 1, 2010 [10 favorites]


oh hell yes, Izzard is 100x funnier than Oswalt.

Oh yeah? Well I say Oswalt is one thousand times funnier than Izzard, so there!

Ball's in your court, DU.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:33 AM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Disgusting, and I'm not talking about the KFC bowl.

In any case, if it weren't for this all happening, I probably wouldn't have been introduced to Oswalt's myspace blog and the hour of joy I just got from reading it.
posted by crasiman at 11:37 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Horace, how much do you want to bet this guy's Ross Perot says "Can I finish? Can. I. Finish?" a lot.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:37 AM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


That would be: "Shaved Ball's in your court, DU."
posted by ericb at 11:38 AM on May 1, 2010


Of course he stole the KFC bit, that's because he never could have gotten away with stealing Fucksquatch.

I just watched the link. Tears are streaming down my face and I can't breathe.
posted by Kloryne at 11:39 AM on May 1, 2010


I bet Izzard has run more marathons.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:42 AM on May 1, 2010


Drives stick? DRIVES STICK? THAT'S A SPECIAL SKILL!?!?!?!

Ridiculously stupid as it sounds (and I agree w/you on that), actors are encouraged to list just about every menial skill they can. After all, if you're casting a role of someone who rollerskates for a portion of the film and you have to choose between two actors who gave a good reading - you're going to pick the one who has listed "rollerskating" under skills.

Hollywood is full of dumb crap like that.
posted by revmitcz at 11:43 AM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um, I'm pretty sure the "drives stick" was not meant seriously? Especially given the rest of the list?
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:52 AM on May 1, 2010


No, "drives stick" is totally a legitimate thing to put on an actor's resume.
posted by EarBucket at 11:55 AM on May 1, 2010


Jesus you nonces, the drives stick thing is supposed to be funny, just like Kelsey Grammar's "flightless birds" thing.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:59 AM on May 1, 2010


I know we're not supposed to moderate our own threads, but I'll just say that I can't drive stick, and I feel like less of a man for it.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:00 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I forgot about Fucksquatch. Patton kills it, haters be damned.
posted by defenestration at 12:04 PM on May 1, 2010


I'd like to open an account now, steal this explanation and email it to her, just to mess with her head. We haven't even talked in a couple years. MMmmmm, deliciously random.

Have you learned nothing from the FPP? Oswalt would end you.
posted by The Tensor at 12:18 PM on May 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


What kills me about this is just how hard it would be to memorize all of these routines. Jesus fuck, man, just take the time to write something.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2010


Jesus you nonces,

You leave the Chuch out of this!
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:29 PM on May 1, 2010


Wow he delivered that so badly compared to Patton and I don't even like Patton that much.
posted by Submiqent at 12:35 PM on May 1, 2010


Oh my God, Fucksquatch. That was pure, distilled, brilliance.

(As was the rat bit that the clip started with. I just hyperventilated for nine minutes.)
posted by kalimac at 12:42 PM on May 1, 2010


Not really on topic, but Patton fans ought to check out Kyle Kinane, who I think is a good bet to be the next big guy in the Patton/Louis Ck mold. I've seen him open for Patton and absolutely steal a show from Sarah Silverman.

(NSFW)
Insomnia
Believe in Yourself
Sucky Jobs
Bunnies
posted by Bookhouse at 1:22 PM on May 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


Izzard?
Stewart Lee?
posted by silence at 1:31 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


To the thief's credit, he does have excellent taste.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:51 PM on May 1, 2010


Whatever shortcomings Robin Williams might have, he's at least a well-meaning guy. I worked on a film he starred in, and the producers went over budget, and then canceled the wrap party. Robin shelled out $50K from his own pocket, stayed at the event all night, posed with, talked individually to, and spent one-on-one look-you-right-in-the-eye time with every member of the cast and crew. All the other "stars" swept through for five minutes, and left as soon as the cameras did. Robin attempted to keep his contribution anonymous, but the National Enquirer got hold of it, and that's how we found out he did it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2010 [19 favorites]


Stewart Lee had a brilliant bit about stealing jokes. (Joe Pasquale's wikipedia page for those who don't get the reference in the bit.) The joke at the end is incredibly cutting.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:19 PM on May 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Zero Mostel doing Ulysses

I looked for this everywhere -

Though I did find this, which is two whole pages of not bad, I'd kill for film of Mostel in Nighttown...
posted by From Bklyn at 2:29 PM on May 1, 2010


Earbucket is correct that "Drives stick" is a totally normal thing to put on an actor's resume. If a part calls for him to drive a stick, and you show up on set with a shitload of expensive equipment and people standing around ready to do their very expensive things, and the talent can't drive the fucking car, then you've got a problem.

You wouldn't believe the stuff actors have on their resumes.
posted by Naberius at 2:45 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whatever shortcomings Robin Williams might have, he's at least a well-meaning guy.

Personal kindness is not an excuse for plagiarism. If the above story is true (and, I stress, we have no reason other than hearsay to believe it is), he's taken other people's property and given them nothing for it. There are lots of nice thieves in the world; it's in fact a useful skill in their trade.

I would absolutely love for people to stop getting away with horrible things because other people think they're nice. The last decade would have gone much better that way.
posted by Epenthesis at 2:46 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gallagher 2 notwithstanding, do comedians ever do covers? When I read something like this:

If you were truly presenting an "evening of your favorite comedians", as if you were Hal Holbrook doing Mark Twain, Zero Mostel doing Ulysses or even Gallagher II, wouldn't you have prefaced each bit with a, "and now here's", instead of the bullshit, shyly-peering-out-from-under-your-forelock, can-you-believe-my-crazy-life-and-my-brilliant-way-of-seeing-it demeanor you so grotesquely adopted during this show?

It really excites me. Does "and now here's a bit by..." ever happen in standup? I think it could be really cool, especially for a comic to take a well-loved bit and add his own riffs to it.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:53 PM on May 1, 2010


he should have claimed naivete. Rose O'Donnel got her start ripping off jokes, before someone told her to stop. This guy seems like a pathological liar type.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on May 1, 2010


Gallagher 2 notwithstanding, do comedians ever do covers?

I can think of a few examples, though they're not quite the way a band would do covers. Some examples include :

- Patton Oswalt's bit about "Dr Pepper" (a heroin-addled "comedian" he saw at an open mic. He says "this is Dr Pepper's act.... verbatim!" and does what sounds like a heroin-addled comic telling surreal humor)

- Bill Cosby makes a number of references to people and comedic quotes, but gives credit where it's due. On "Himself", he quotes Carol Burnett on what labor pains feel like.

- There was a comedy show a few years back where comics were paying homage to Mitch Hedberg by getting up and telling their favorite bits of his. As I understand, they also added twists and their reasons for liking the bit, but I've still never heard any recordings of that night.

- Grimgin mentioned upthread Stewart Lee, who references a bit by another comic and, while not "covering" his act, does tell the joke pretty much verbatim (aside from the visual accompaniment)

This might be a terrible example, but worth mentioning.....

- I have a friend who works at a very well-known talent agency here in Hollywood that showed me an audition tape made by (redacted) wherein he's doing 20 minutes of Richard Pryor material in a Richard Pryor voice. The difference here being that said comic was trying to prove to certain talent agents that he should get the part of Richard Pryor for the rumored biopic being made about his life. I wish I could upload that DVD somewhere because it's a very surreal thing to watch a lesser comic *cough* marlon wayans *cough* trying miserably to emulate the greatest comedian of all time.

All that being said, I've been trying to put together a Halloween show where comics dress up as a given comedian and do a set AS that comedian. I think it would be fun, but who knows if you'd get enough comedy geeks in the audience who would really "get it".
posted by revmitcz at 3:22 PM on May 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


There are lots of nice thieves in the world; it's in fact a useful skill in their trade.

I'd have to see more context, even when plagiarism has happened. Writing and humor that wants to be built around vacuuming reality and editing it -- it's possible to imagine that net capturing preexisting writing and humor, like dolphins with the tuna. Yes, if that happens more than a few times, extra diligence should be exercised.

So there's a difference between saying, "I have no talent, what act can I steal?", and riding a roller coaster of natural talent, built like a high power pump, that sucks in, filters, and shoots out.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:28 PM on May 1, 2010


Metafilter: a roller coaster of natural talent, built like a high power pump, that sucks in, filters, and shoots out.
posted by adamt at 3:47 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if "The Aristocrats" might count as one example of a "cover joke", even though it's more of an inside joke most of the time.
posted by ymgve at 3:48 PM on May 1, 2010


I almost--let me emphasize that word, almost--feel sorry for Nick Madson. He seems to occupy the same niche that a lot of would-be actor-singers do in small-to-midsize cities in flyover country: doing the local and regional productions of big musicals, maybe still dreaming of ditching his day job and trying to make it in the big city, maybe hoping to break out with a small role in a movie shooting somewhere in the area, maybe slowly starting to come to grips with the notion that this is about as far as he's going to get. He's still a relatively young guy, not bad-looking but not particularly distinguished either, and his hair's really starting to go. He's kind of at a Waiting for Guffman-type place in his life.

So there's this local comedy club that has open-mike night. And he's not really a write-your-own-material kind of guy--hell, he's never even been in a first-run musical, or original play, let alone written his own show--but what the hell, it's fucking Davenport, man. You know what the Quad Cities are known for? John Deere tractors, and Rock Island gave its name to a railroad that Leadbelly wrote a pretty cool song about, and... did I mention John Deere already? So, hey, fuck it, might as well give this comedy thing a try and if it works out, he can always get somebody to write some material for him. Right?

Oh, poor little Nick Madson. The panopticon society is everywhere, yea verily unto Moline and Bettendorf. Hope your day job boss isn't a Reno 911! fan.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:07 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


but ymgve, No two tellings of "The Aristocrats" are the same. If your version is the same as somebody else's, you just don't get the point of the exercise.
posted by Megafly at 4:09 PM on May 1, 2010


The Aristocrats is more of a folk joke. Comedians hear it and then re-tell it with their own adaptations and embellishments and, in the case of Gilbert Gottfried, kill at the Friars Club.
posted by Spatch at 4:20 PM on May 1, 2010


So there's this local comedy club that has open-mike night. And he's not really a write-your-own-material kind of guy--hell, he's never even been in a first-run musical, or original play, let alone written his own show--but what the hell, it's fucking Davenport, man

This is the thing that confused me, too. It sounded, at the offset, like a sort-of open mic night. Just some one-off "let some local jackasses tell some jokes to a small crowd" night. But, Patton mentioned on a number of occasions that Madson was getting paid for it.

I've been a comic for a number of years and I've yet to find the open mic event that pays comics. Open mics are basically auditions for better gigs, or to try out new material. No one gets paid for that (and I mean no one - even big-name comics drop by an open mic night and they don't get paid either). I'm painfully curious how a dude gets a paying gig before having actually written and performed his own original material in advance, however.

If it's just been misunderstood that this kid was paid, that would make far more sense. If it turns out that this venue was paying their open mic people... well, shit, I need to stop into Davenport next time I wanna try out some new material.
posted by revmitcz at 4:27 PM on May 1, 2010


Jesus You Nonces

I think those guys played at Mercury Lounge last week.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:34 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those Kyle Kinane links upthread are worth the trouble. The last thirty seconds of "Believing in Yourself" had me in stitches.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:46 PM on May 1, 2010


Isn't a big part of the point of the aristocrats joke that it's not funny?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2010


I just read that last blog post, and I don't have much to say beyond mentioning the fact that I would like to be a "clitoris of a man."
posted by koeselitz at 5:15 PM on May 1, 2010


Williams for notorious for it. The story is that if he walked into a club, the comedians would go backstage and warn other comedians, who would revert back to older material, because it was a well-known fact that if you did a new joke that was funny, you'd hear Williams do it on television a week later, and there was no way you could ever do the joke again without people thinking it was his.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:48 AM on 5/2


Whereas I hear that when Carlos Mencia walks in, someone just yells, "Carlos Mencia's here!"
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:16 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now that I've learned I have such a special skill, in that I can operate multiple types of automobiles, where do I send my headshots?
posted by haveanicesummer at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, now time to go to the place referred to as KFC.
posted by PHINC at 6:15 PM on May 1, 2010


Whatever shortcomings Robin Williams might have, he's at least a well-meaning guy.

Personal kindness is not an excuse for plagiarism. If the above story is true (and, I stress, we have no reason other than hearsay to believe it is), he's taken other people's property and given them nothing for it.


Actually, if you listen to the link I provided, Williams admits to paying comedians many years ago who claimed he stole from them. And not to derail too much, but, fwiw, he also insists that the plagiarism was mostly benign and unconscious, and it's hard to argue with him given that: his obvious comic genius has very little to do with traditional punch line jokes, and everything to do with his tremendous improvisational skills and unscripted stream-of-consciousness riffs (no one can deny Williams is extremely talented and lightning-fast with his frenetic wit). Furthermore, his comic mind is like a sponge, and it's not really hard to see how he might have honestly absorbed jokes without thinking. Furthermore, comedy like blues consists of a lot of borrowing and both subtle and unsubtle forms of imitation (sincerest form of flattery and all that). Finally, Williams is one of the greatest comedians who ever lived, as well as a versatile dramatic actor, and the possibility that he may have stolen a handful of jokes early in his career does nothing in my mind to diminish his genius any more than the fact that Led Zeppelin stole a few riffs from a blues giant like Muddy Waters diminishes their status as a seminal rock band.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:53 PM on May 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's never wise to fuck with any comic. It just isn't. If I had to single out a single crowd of people to NOT fuck with, it would be comics, outranking the likes of pro football players, Hollywood agents, on-the-lamb war criminals and hitmen as people you do not want gunning for you. They have after all mastered sarcasm.

As others have mentioned, sometimes people get away with it, such as Robin Williams (though he's not quite the same as Mencia or this guy). There is an old but not exactly admired tradition of stealing in comedy, but the line is a bit blurry sometimes. Some comedians get away with it because their presence and delivery is good enough to drown out any complaints, and in the case of Williams (and some others) he may not have always been aware of it. With Mencia and this guy, they're just riding on other people's stuff entirely and don't have much else going for them when you take that away. You can steal from some comics, but I'd amend what you said to: don't plagiarize obsessive nerd comedians, because they will destroy you publicly, with maximum humiliation.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:34 PM on May 1, 2010


No, "drives stick" is totally a legitimate thing to put on an actor's resume.

If I were an actor I'd have an awesome resume full of random crap like this. I am in the wrong business.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:46 PM on May 1, 2010


Robin shelled out $50K from his own pocket, stayed at the event all night, posed with, talked individually to, and spent one-on-one look-you-right-in-the-eye time with every member of the cast and crew.

That's rare.

I feel bad for the guy now. I was at some random grocery store the other day and saw some relatively recent but utterly forgettable awful family comedy co-starring him in the bargain bin. It's clear he's still trying but never fully broke into serious acting beyond the overly-sentimental treacle he ended up being known for, and his earlier pure-adrenaline, cocaine-fueled ADHD shtick doesn't age very well (well, it just doesn't work when you're pushing 60). And then there was Death to Smoochy. But he seems like a decent guy, and this story makes me feel even worse. I'm sure he's doing fine financially and all, so not like he needs my sympathy ... but it's not easy growing old when you're in comedy. The audience can easily turn on you if you change, and you will (e.g., Joe Piscopo, Eddie Murphy), so there has to be a graceful way to transition into other things if that stops working, that is if you don't want to die a slow death of telling the same jokes forever. In contrast, makes Steve Martin's career look like genius, but I have no idea if he's as nice a guy when things go pear shaped.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:59 PM on May 1, 2010


If I were an actor I'd have an awesome resume full of random crap like this. I am in the wrong business.

That kind of thing is genuinely useful information to a casting director. I know an actress whose resume points out that she can make a whistle out of a blade of grass. You never know when that might come up--a director might even see that and decide "hey, that would be a fun bit of business for that one scene."
posted by EarBucket at 8:22 PM on May 1, 2010


drives schtick

I'm here all week, folks.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:29 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's clear he's still trying but never fully broke into serious acting beyond the overly-sentimental treacle he ended up being known for

He's very good in World's Greatest Dad. And he does crap to pay the bills. I wish Steve Martin would tack away from the bill-paying side a little more often these days.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:39 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


>does anyone do cover versions of comedy

Yes, there's a guy in Vegas who has an act of this. Presumably he has worked out rights with the comics in question, most or all of whom also play(ed) Vegas. I'm blanking on his name and my Google-fu is failing me. I think he used to post on alt.comedy.standup as King of (something I forget, not comedy)
posted by msalt at 8:45 PM on May 1, 2010


krinklyfig: It's clear he's still trying but never fully broke into serious acting beyond the overly-sentimental treacle he ended up being known for

Really? Because, he was pretty well respected for his work in this movie, and in this one too. Most exclusively dramatic actors would kill for either one of those credits.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:20 PM on May 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's clear he's still trying but never fully broke into serious acting beyond the overly-sentimental treacle he ended up being known for"

Dude, go watch "The World According to Garp."
posted by oddman at 11:20 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I genuinely liked Death to Smoochy.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:21 PM on May 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


"failure pile in a sadness bowl."
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on May 1 [12 favorites +] [!]


fucking hack
posted by sanko at 11:35 PM on May 1, 2010


Dude, go watch "The World According to Garp."

Which is rad as hell. And also 28 years old.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:26 AM on May 2, 2010


I genuinely liked Death to Smoochy.

Dare I say, ...duh?
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:59 AM on May 2, 2010


i can't believe we're arguing about robin williams stealing when the world has carlos mencia.
posted by nadawi at 2:32 AM on May 2, 2010


I really enjoyed "Insomnia". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278504/ It probably helped he was playing against Pachino and directed by Christopher Nolan, but he turned in a very good performance in his own right.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:43 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Information wants to be free, right?

Exactly. Can't people see that Nick Madson is simply aggregating Patton Oswalt's content?

Jeez, I'm gonna be so happy when these smug, arrogant so-called "stand-up comedians" go out of business. Snarky comments on Metafilter are a perfectly good substitute for professional comedy.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:06 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mikey-San: "drives schtick

I'm here all week, folks.
"

Try the veal.
posted by bwg at 4:16 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mitch Hedberg: rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something.
posted by bwg at 4:21 AM on May 2, 2010


Who's on First has been covered a number of times with different twists. Some of them are available on YouTube, but I can't seem to find the two guys (brothers?) who included some kind of time traveling (?) in their version.

I also liked Death to Smoochy—"My stepdad's not mad, he's just adjusting" is still a punchline between my wife and me.
posted by sleepinglion at 7:05 AM on May 2, 2010


Nick madsen isn't a victim of anything other than his own stupidity but still I don't really care for the gusto with which Oswalt is taking him down. The public shaming of a sort of delusional mendacious nobody by a powerful somebody. This guy lied to a club for probably very little money and put on a shit show that would have been even Shittier had he tried to do his own material. Joke stealing is never cool but I think the big problem that people talk about when people talk about joke stealing is that if someone more famous than you takes a joke that you did you can't do it anymore. It really is stealing.

Have you met sad liars? I don't know if it's just me but it's really hard for me to hate them. They seem like they can't stand their lives and there's this childish wish that the lie will somehow make it so. I'm not exactly sticking up for the kid or anything this seems a little bit of picking on the weird kid.
posted by I Foody at 7:29 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: King of (something I forget, not comedy)
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:08 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


- Patton Oswalt's bit about "Dr Pepper" (a heroin-addled "comedian" he saw at an open mic. He says "this is Dr Pepper's act.... verbatim!" and does what sounds like a heroin-addled comic telling surreal humor)

What always irked me about that bit is that the open mic took place in Toronto, a Second City town with a lot of weird character-based performance comedy. Which is to say, Oswalt very well could be lifting a performance that had taken a lot of hard work to hone. I mean, it was funny, right? Funny enough to recite verbatim?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:22 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


...do comedians ever do covers?

Gotham has hosted a night of this kind of stuff.
posted by O Blitiri at 9:31 AM on May 2, 2010


Re: Robin Williams: I love a lot of his earlier "dramatic" roles (Garp, Dead Poet's) but they are pretty sentimental -- just a good sentimental vs. the pablum of shit like What Dreams May Come. I really enjoyed his performance in One Hour Photo.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:59 AM on May 2, 2010


Which is to say, Oswalt very well could be lifting a performance that had taken a lot of hard work to hone. I mean, it was funny, right? Funny enough to recite verbatim?

You don't really think he's doing the bit verbatim do you?
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on May 2, 2010


Well, it could all be made up, which isn't at all unlikely. But he says he's doing it verbatim, so...
posted by Sys Rq at 10:02 AM on May 2, 2010


(I do like Patton Oswalt a lot, FWIW, and that bit is indeed funny. But oh, how it irks me!)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:04 AM on May 2, 2010


Well, either it was the real thing, or the guy is a Kaufman-level genius to fool a fellow performer like Oswalt so completely, in which case he a). has probably moved on to new material in the decade since and b). should fully enjoy his Total Art Victory.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:34 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I Foody - i would agree with you if it was just some small town doofus who lied and said the material was his to make a buck or two. however, this doofus lied to a club across town about having an HBO special, then lied to the owner of the theater where the video was taken. chances are that lie got populated to a lot more places. he also added into these lies that he was writing material for comics who don't have writers, to cover the fact that everyone would know the bits. i think that under the weight of those lies, patton oswalt is certainly in his right to eviscerate this guy.
posted by nadawi at 1:40 PM on May 2, 2010


Because, he was pretty well respected for his work in this movie, and in this one too.

You are literally the first person I've ever heard say they liked Dead Poets Society.
posted by EarBucket at 5:17 PM on May 2, 2010


You are literally the first person I've ever heard say they liked Dead Poets Society.

really?
posted by nadawi at 6:47 PM on May 2, 2010


I drove Robin Williams from Whistler to Vancouver in my limo days , and can testify to the man's utterly non-stop manic creativity. This happened on a day when the entire infrastructure of the ski-tourism transport-business continent-wide had been struck a massive blow with a snow-storm which had closed airports from Denver to New York for most of the day; with the resulting missed connections, and badly-snarled plans of anyone unlucky enough to be attempting to travel that day.

I was the only driver in our fleet to make it through to Whistler that morning, the RCMP closed the highway behind me. Despite leaving an hour early, I still arrived 3 hours late, and even the tow-trucks in Whistler were in the ditch. From the loading of the luggage, to the final drop-off at YVR 8 hours later, ( Its a 2.5 hour drive normally) the whole experience was like a Mark Brothers movie on speed. Where other celebrities might have pulled a fit, Robin Williams made everyone he encountered that chaotic day happy just to be alive in that place, at the time. The jokes and bits simply never ceased, and pretty much all of it was conjured on the spot, woven form the cloth of those very moments.

He had pretty much taken over the over the concourse and lobby of the hotel when I pulled in, and he had what would otherwise likely been an angry mob positively glowing with excitement to be inconvenienced in this (now hilarious) way. He insisted on sharing his transport with 4 complete strangers; and orchestrated a luggage stowage scheme that would have given a Motor Vehicle Commission inspector an infarction.

The scene at our offices where we stopped for a bathroom break was positively electric, as he leaped over the dutch-door of the dispatch booth, taking over over complete radio-control of the fleet; mollifying our disgruntled passengers out there in blizzard central with his ad-hoc absurdities, and bizarre imitations.

For 8 straight hours this man's brain was constantly searching for, and manufacturing humour; and there were no cameras rolling. He was consistently nice to everyone he encountered, and deliberately went out of his way to make a stressful situation more pleasant. So I fully agree that it's likely that he absorbed and reiterated bits he encountered. But that would be a function of his compulsion toward sharing the funny, and in no way indicative of a lack of talent or character. The man has both, in spades.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:52 PM on May 2, 2010 [26 favorites]


You wouldn't believe the stuff actors have on their resumes.

Maybe, but I'd guess that waiting tables, pouring beers & operating espresso machines would figure very prominently.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:05 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gallagher 2 notwithstanding, do comedians ever do covers?

Letterman sometimes uses bits or characters from other comedians and prefaces the references by saying who they are from. For example he mentioned that Rodney Dangerfield gave him his Dr. Vinnie Boombatz character, and after that periodically mentioned Boombatz when doing a medical-related monologue joke. He also does a few of Carson's old bits on his show, like Stump The Band and Carnac.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2010


Related
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 PM on May 3, 2010


You are literally the first person I've ever heard say they liked Dead Poets Society.

I loved that movie in high school. There's not a lot of popular entertainment that celebrates bookishness.
posted by empath at 12:47 PM on May 3, 2010


Basically, Williams admitted that he had unconsciously absorbed certain material back in the day

My girlfriend worked as an extra on a film with Robin Williams, and they hit it off, finding a mutual love of comic books and weird pop culture ephemera (they're both big fans of Neil Gaiman's Sandman, for instance).

Later that week she saw him on a late-night talk show, stealing a story about her cat that she had told him.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:35 PM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I should add that I'm totally with everyone who says that Williams' joke-stealing is unconscious, a product of his mania, and my girlfriend tells the story fondly; if anyone ever asks if she was upset by this, she says something like, "Are you kidding?! Robin Williams told one of my funny stories on TV! I'm flattered!"
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:44 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Naberius: "You wouldn't believe the stuff actors have on their resumes."

UbuRoivas: "Maybe, but I'd guess that waiting tables, pouring beers & operating espresso machines would figure very prominently."

Heh.

Yeah, you do see quite a few where that section has been used to bulk out a resume that's low on actual credits.

But since most actor CV aggregators don't allow you any space for a personal statement, you also see the skills section used to push a message. I know of at least one established actor who lists 'asphaulting' and 'sterile medical services specialist' in her skills section. She doesn't seriously expect to be hauling buckets of syringes or laying tarmac in the National Theatre. It's just another way of saying 'I have led a full and interesting life, which will add depth to my performances.'

With thousands of competitors flooding from the drama schools every year, you need to use every tool at your disposal - even if it's just that one time you refinished your own driveway.
posted by the latin mouse at 12:37 AM on May 6, 2010


When I was in fifth grade, my mom sent me to this fancy middle school for "the gifted" hoping that I was just bored by my low-level classwork and not the horrendously lazy fuck I turned out to be. So the school was housed in a former mansion and had grounds and a human-size dollhouse in some woods, which was creepy and amazing, and downstairs of course there was an enormous room that was called a ballroom not out of pretentiousness but because that was literally what it had been used for way back in the day. Anyway, the school had a good reputation in the area and lots of rich parents sent their kids there and so lots of cool stuff happened because the money was pretty abundant. So in my first year, they actually got Jane Goodall to come and talk to us about monkeys, which I completely didn't appreciate at the time but is astonishing. The adults understood what a big deal this was, so they packed basically every kid in the school who was toilet-trained into the ballroom and stuck her at a podium in the center. I think only grades k-2 were left out, and the school was k-8, so there were hundreds of kids in the room. This is like the mid-90s, by the way. So I'm sitting cross-legged trying to pay attention to Jane Goodall in this sea of other kids when I notice a kind of wave of energy is coming at me from the right. Oh, on the right was the entrance closer to the parking lot, there were classrooms on the left end of the room, balconies behind me, but in front there was a courtyard that connected the rest of the mansion together like a doughnut hole. Anyway this wave is coming at me from the right, and I look over and see kids are whispering and pointing and clearly something serious is happening, but I can't figure out what it is because all there is is some guy picking his way though the kids with I think sunglasses on and that's when I realize that it's ROBIN WILLIAMS. I think this was like right after Jumanji came out, for sure everyone has seen Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire, and as more and more kids figure out what is going on everyone just starts totally losing their shit. At this point, Jane Goodall figures out that she's losing the room and starts trying to get our attention back by hooting and generally imitating ape noises. Even then I knew I was in some kind of surreal, ridiculous moment outside of ordinary reality.

I heard later his daughter, who was in second grade there, had to go to the dentist or something, so he was just there to pick her up. Anyway, I never forgave him for not going through the courtyard. He really shat on Jane Goodall's moment, and she didn't deserve it.
posted by prefpara at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


EarBucket: “You are literally the first person I've ever heard say they liked Dead Poets Society.”

Ah – then you've never seen Krzysztof Kieślowski's beautiful film Red. And you should, because it's a fantastic movie. (Much better than Dead Poets Society itself.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:17 PM on May 8, 2010


EarBucket: “You are literally the first person I've ever heard say they liked Dead Poets Society.”

Well, now you have heard about a second person who liked the film. "O Captain, my Captain, carpe diem!"
posted by ericb at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2010


Really? Because, he was pretty well respected for his work in this movie, and in this one too. Most exclusively dramatic actors would kill for either one of those credits.

Yeah, I know. The problem is that he always appears as one of two characters, and they're just extensions of him, so he doesn't seem to ever be present in these roles as a completely different person - you know, real acting. Or maybe it's that he's always typecast. And they're sentimental roles, sometimes maudlin. It would be nice to see him break out of that sort of thing. But I like the guy and would have nothing but nice things to say if I met him. People gotta pay the bills, and I'm sure his career didn't go exactly as he expected, either.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:40 PM on May 8, 2010


I wish Steve Martin would tack away from the bill-paying side a little more often these days.

Yeah, what was up with his Pink Panther remakes? I was hoping we'd find Peter Sellers' spirit revived or at least a good reworking, but alas ... I liked his book. I hope he does more of that, even though it wasn't commercially successful, and the movie wasn't that great. But he should keep trying that sort of thing instead of the endless parade of family comedies.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2010


krinklyfig: "The problem is that he always appears as one of two characters, and they're just extensions of him, so he doesn't seem to ever be present in these roles as a completely different person - you know, real acting."

I tire of that criticism, partly because it seems to always be used by people who just don't like the actor in question anyway. Would anyone ever use that criticism against, say, Groucho Marx?

Particularly with comedy, there's nothing wrong with having a type or a schtick. That's a tradition that goes back to the beginning of theatre. Really good comedies are ones that place a known type into a completely different world. Take Punch-Drunk Love, or even The Cable Guy. Those movies take a known character but put it into a world that follows different rules than that character usually operates in.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:20 AM on May 10, 2010


you know, real acting.

One Hour Photo comes to mind. That's not Mork in that one.
posted by cmoj at 10:47 AM on May 10, 2010


Another instance of passing Patton's work off as his own, Columbia University's General Studies valedictorian Brian Corman inserts Patton Oswalt's "Physics for Poets" routine into his speech. The plagiarism starts about 38 minutes into the video. The video was removed for a while, and now is back up with a note about the offense (and a misspelling of "Oswald").
posted by gladly at 10:37 AM on May 25, 2010


(and a misspelling of "Oswald")

Uh, his name is Patton Oswalt, which is indeed how it's spelled there.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:50 AM on May 25, 2010


I know his name is spelled Oswalt (which is why I used that spelling first): Columbia's first statement used "Oswald" throughout, but they've since corrected their mistake.
posted by gladly at 11:02 AM on May 25, 2010


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