Joke theft rife among comics
More than half have been victims
It is supposed to be the cardinal sin of comedy, banished from modern practice along with frilly shirts and mother-in-law jokes. Yet joke stealing is apparently rife on today’s circuit, with most comics believing they have had their material lifted by someone else.
In a new face-to-face survey of more than 100 comedians, 55 per cent said they have been the victims of joke theft.
And quarter of them admitted that there was little they could do about it – although the study did not reveal what the other three-quarters would do.
The interviews also revealed that Liverpool has the toughest comedy audiences in the whole of Britain.
Almost one in five stand-ups said it was the hardest city to crack, with most saying that was because audience members often think they are funnier than the acts they've paid to see.
It was followed in the list of tough crowds by Nottingham and Maidstone in Kent. But despite Nottingham’s reputation, the wider Midlands region was found to have the most receptive audiences, attracting more than one in five of the votes.
The study for the Dave TV channel also revealed that younger crowds are difficult. Almost half of the comedians said that the 18-to-25-year-old age group were the hardest to make laugh.
They said it’s because that generation has a ‘too cool for school’ attitude, with one comic saying that ‘young audiences are often too busy texting to listen’. In contrast, the ideal age range for a comedy audience was said to be 26-to-33-year-olds.
The study provides an insight into the working lives of stand-ups, revealing that 31 per cent suffer intense stage fright before their sets, and 70 per cent never drink before going on stage for fear alcohol might hinder their performance.
The study was commissioned by Dave to launch its new series of One Night Stand tonight. Led by comedy critic Bruce Dessau, the research involved one-to-one interviews with acts including Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Tim Vine, Dave Gorman, Rhod Gilbert, Mark Watson, Jason Byrne and Greg Davies.
Channel head, Steve North said: ‘It's great to hear that audiences are making the comedians work for their laughs. The better they get, the better the entertainment.’
The comics were also asked to name their favourite British stand-up of all time, with Daniel Kitson topping the poll. The 33-year-old polled almost a quarter of the vote, narrowly beating Billy Connolly. Eddie Izzard came third and Tommy Cooper fourth.
Two comedians refused to vote, stating that ‘all-time hasn't happened yet’. That two of them came up with the same line independently might indicate an alternative explanation for the ‘joke theft’ that’s supposedly so rampant.
Posted: 14 Apr 2011