The ethics of joke writing

Wow, that title sounds impressive.

To be honest, which I mostly am, I do not write the jokes that get posted on this site.  Anyone who bothers to read all the crap e-mail their so-called friends and family will already know that.  I cherry pick my favorites from the billions of jokes floating about the internet.  Often I find myself editing them for spelling, grammar, formatting and sometimes content because refinement is not always a bad thing.  I mean let’s face it – not all jokes are good.  However sometimes I’ll run across an absolute crap joke that has a good idea that can be fixed.  I still don’t claim the jokes as mine when I do that, but I like to think I bring the quality up a notch or so at least.

On the other hand, the jokes at A Little Scary are mostly my own.  There have been two instances where I took a funny conversation from the now defunct inpassing.org site and adapted them into a format and relevance to fit the comic.  And as long as that old overheard conversation website stays down, I can claim those jokes as mine still.  But it also sucks because it was the original overheard conversation site on the web and it was a great source of motivation.  I mean seriously… people are really stupid sometimes.  I’m living proof.

One upcoming comic is actually an old e-mail joke adapted to fit the comic strip format of A Little Scary.  The punch line is the same, but everything else was created new for the strip.  I’d like to think that I can claim that as my own because 95.8% of the content is created by me if you count the “artwork” as well.

So if you’re still reading this post, you’re probably starting to fidget and wondering what my point is.  Well, I have to be honest: I really don’t know.  I guess the point is that you should always give credit where credit is due.  This is true in general as well as at work and in dealing with everything and anything.  If you feel you can only get ahead by taking credit for other people’s work then you really need to admit that to yourself and take a step back and decide if that’s really who you want to be.  Nobody likes a fake.  Not even other fakes.  And no matter how good you are at faking it, there’s no substitute for making something yourself, something you can be proud of and honestly feel good about with no regrets.  Nothing can top that.

In case you’re wondering, no I’m not writing this because someone has wronged me in some way.  I’m just sharing a small part of what makes me tick, so to speak.  I think it’s an important life lesson that most people have been on one side of or the other but it seems to get overlooked.  People often miss the big picture because they are either too busy trying to keep up the illusion or too busy being depressed or mad that someone took credit for their work.

No of course the zen thing for me to tell you at this point is to be the better person when you find yourself being taken advantage of in a situation like this.  That would be the proper way to handle things.  But to hell with that.  If someone takes credit for my work I get pissed.  And I start looking for ways to let everyone know it.  Of course you have to know when to pick your battles, but seriously, I don’t like that and I will let you know about it.  However, the one thing I can do add a little zen back to that is to promise I will not take credit for other people’s work.  My career is not that important nor anything else.  You know, unless like the person who should get credit is already dead… and there’s no way for it to come back to me.  I never said I was stupid or naive.  Just honest.  Mostly.

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3 Responses to “The ethics of joke writing”

  1. Rev Matt says:

    See also: Overheardintheoffice.com, overheardinnewyork.com.

  2. cybrpunk says:

    Yeah I’ve read those when I saw In Passing was down. They just aren’t as consistently funny. Definitely quantity over quality with their “empire” of overheard sites.

  3. JimK says:

    We all have been in that situation sometime in our life where we feel slighted,-when that little voice asks you “Are you going to get pissed or just let it go”. Its when we are able to turn it around , and see it – thats what helps us from doing it to someone else. Yes there are those times when you pick to battle and you know what they say about payback……

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