Last night at Gotham Comedy Club I watched some younger comics struggle through sets. No big deal. Not one comic worth his salt can watch an early tape of him or herself without gagging at how terrible it looks, no matter how well you thought you may have done at the time of the performance. So I don’t really hold it against anyone if they are not doing well. In fact it yielded a very funny moment for a comic last night. The comic was from the South and made a Walmart joke. It did not receive a great laugh so he said sarcastically, “Guess you don’t have Walmart in New York,” which he quickly learned from the crowd’s response was in fact the case.
I also don’t mind when comics, especially newer ones clearly have the imprint of their favorite comic or comics on their material. Last night I saw a comic who, like many males under the age of 28, probably believes that comedy begins and ends withDane Cook, which I guess is why he tore his shirt off (ripping all the buttons), while simulating sex set to death metal music. He also coined the word “chesticles” (combination of Chest and icicles), which sounds like it came from the Dane Cook Thesaurus. And then there was his sendoff of “You guys are my reason for living” to the crowd. I almost puked. I was waiting for him to flash a Su-Fi and say “by a round of applause how do you feel???”
But that is no big deal. There was a comic later who actually ripped off an entire persona of a comic. And apparently me and the emcee were the only ones who noticed. That is what sucks about comedy – it is an honor based culture, but from 4th grade mathclass to Denis Leary I have learned that thieves and cheats don’t always get theirs. This comic, who was doing well with the crowd (especially since it was his first time at Gotham), but I noticed that his speech pattern, the way he held his hand was basically an imitation of a Canadian comic named Jeremy Hotz. I thought maybe I was being too hard on the new comic or that it could be a coincidence so I showed some YouTube clips to my girlfriend who was at the show, but unfamiliar with Hotz’ work. Her response, “are you kidding? that is pretty ridiculous.”
Joke thieves are bad because it is so easy to do and so hard to catch. But identity theft is the bigger theft because forming a voice and persona on stage is often harder than just writing new jokes. I did not bother to learn the names of the above mentioned comics because maybe they are figuring out comedy as newcomers and should not be completely trashed, but that will only be true in the near future.