Friday, January 22, 2016

A comic says funny things, a comedian says things funny

Once upon a time, in the Paleolithic days, a caveman named Ogg came home from work and told his family this joke:
"What's blue and smells like red paint?"  "Blue paint!"
Ogg's son, Oggson, found this to be hilarious, so much so that he went to school the next day and told the joke to his chuckleheaded, oafish friends Ugg, Thoran, and Track.  The next day, having heard the joke repeated by Ugg, Jr. over a Kentucky Fried Pterodactyl dinner the night before, Ugg, Sr. went to work and told it to his boss and the other guys who were mobbing around the office watercooler, and that was the first instance of a joke theft in our society.

Image result for amy schumerOur modern society sees Amy Schumer getting big yucks on stage and on TV by saying, "I’m very old-school, I think the guy should always pay on the first date – for sex."

Good line, and as with anything else in comedy, it's all in the pacing and rhythm of how she tells it.  (The title above, about how a comic says funny things and a comedian says things funny, is true. If you've ever heard someone try to repeat a joke without the ability to tell a joke, you know true pain. And the line itself was stolen years ago from Ed Wynn, a radio comedian from the old days.)

But, wait a minute.  Wendy Liebman is a comedian, too, and there is tape of her from twenty years ago, saying, "Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I like it when a guy pays – for sex."

Schumer tweeted, “I have never and would never steal a joke”, after allegations surfaced accusing her of stealing material from other standup comedians.  She even offered to take a polygraph test, and since she is under 30, she said she would "literally" take a polygraph test, so there you go.

There is another gag about a great diet secret - hiring someone to knock the food out of your hand before you can stuff it into your mouth - that Amy tells, and is very similar to one the late Patrice O'Neal used to use.

Schumer said she will prove that "I have never seen Patrice do that bit."

Even forgetting how difficult it would be to prove that you have never seen something, something I rarely see is a comedian who doesn't steal jokes.  They used to call Milton Berle "The Thief of Badgags" with very good reason.   Show me a comic who never ripped off "Take my wife, please!" from Henny Youngman, and I'll show you a comic who isn't very funny.

My advice for Amy would be to say, "Yeah, it must be a pretty good joke if I stole it!" and go on from there.

Meanwhile, do you know the difference between dancing, and pea-green paint?

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