I woz robbed!

Nathan Cassidy on being a victim of Twitter joke theft

I was eating some garlic bread the other day and while pondering its inherent ridiculousness something happened on Twitter. A tweetstorm so fierce that I thought I’d have to write a Chortle Correspondence piece so anyone noticed. I was robbed.

Gag theft on the circuit has never really affected me. No other comedian really covers being the sixth member of Take That, looking like Marc Almond and having fewer hits on youtube than the Nathan Cassidy who has fallen asleep and is getting a cock drawn on his face. But on February 5 at 15:27, I tweeted the following joke: ‘Chris Huhne wishes he could turn back the clock, which let’s face it is yet another serious motoring offence.’ Funny eh? So funny you wanna tell someone, pass it off as your own yeah? I know your game.

I’m not big onTwitter. Right now I have fewer than 500 followers but surprisingly then this gag quickly got nearly 1,000 retweets (RT). I tweeted a friend (who is bigger on Twitter) about this and he tweeted back one word ‘wow’. I still don’t know whether that was sarcastic or whether as he now interacts with people purely on Twitter he’s been forced to be so brief as to often appear incredibly rude.

Anyway, I thought nothing of it until on February 10 when @loveandgarbage retweeted me, I looked at his timeline and he had RT a massive number of people, let’s call them thieves, to call out that they were passing off my joke as their own. I had been robbed. I had, as it’s known in the business, been ‘Chegwined’

I felt a little strange that I’d been so brutally robbed by huge gangs of people for nearly a week and I hadn’t noticed that my precious gold was being touted on the open market as other people’s. But then things started to add up. A few days previously someone had got angry on my behalf and had told me that someone had nicked it and put it on Sickipedia, with a user name of ‘Cassjag’. Yep, this person was so lacking in imagination that he not only had nicked my gag but had also helped himself to half my name.

And now, seeing all these many robbers lined up before me in black and white, I suddenly thought this was actually a bigger deal, as I thought about all those comics who may want to tweet gags and something like this may stop them. And then I thought, “Hang on, maybe previous thefts have already stopped a lot of comics telling jokes on Twitter.” That would explain why a lot of comedians instead use Twitter to show their followers what they are having for tea, or that they have just ‘smashed a gig’, the latter practice I know is universally loved: Don’t tell me a joke ever, just tell me that a joke you told to others made them laugh. That’s all I need to get off. But maybe that’s why they do it – if they told us a joke I would steal it. And maybe I would, because then things got even more weird.

Someone messaged me on Twitter on February 10 after @loveandgarbage had exposed the theft to say this. ‘@nathancassidy I thought of it the split second the words “Turn back the clock” came out of his mouth. I wasn’t online though, you can have it.’ Thanks mate, thanks very much.

However, one slight flaw in your evidence there – Chris Huhne never said he wished he could turn back the clock. I made it up, for the joke. Now this was very odd – not only were people stealing the joke but, totally unprompted by me, they were now claiming that they had thought of it first based on something he didn’t say when this couldn’t possibly be true.

But it was a lie so deeply entrenched within them that they maybe actually believed it. And they were so firm in their belief that I started to think shit, did I actually nick it? Did I steal it somehow from their thoughts, their thoughts about something that Chris Huhne didn’t say? I didn’t know what was true any more. All I knew was that my wife was driving.

Why do people nick gags? They want to be funny, they want to be followed, they want to be loved. I think all you thieves just want to be loved. Just like me. That’s what my show is about this year and so I forgive you all, it just proves what I think about all comedians, from pros to serial joke thieves, they want to be universally loved, and more than that, followed, please God follow me on twitter, RT me, favourite me, love me. I forgive you.

But just before you go thief, one last thing. Stop it. Stop nicking my gags. Stop nicking comedians’ gags. It’s not a victimless crime. If you nick my gags and pass them off as your own then you are far worse than Chris Huhne. He was trying to keep his licence, you just want a few more followers. Grow up!

At least Huhne didn’t care about his Twitter followers, he just cared about being able to drive, to see his friends and stuff. You don’t care about driving and friends because all you do is tweet all day and don’t go anywhere you useless, dirty thief. I forgive you.

Chris Huhne is a Saint compared with you, scum. If you want to nick a joke then nick one of Peter Kay’s – he can afford it. And he deserves it – he nicked all my garlic bread stuff, and worse than that in his later DVDs he nicks his own gags from earlier DVDs. Shameless.

But I forgive you, I don’t care really.

And don’t follow me on Twitter just because you’ve read this. Don’t even think about it. I don’t care. I don’t need to be followed. Comedy is not about being appreciated. For me, great comedy is all about aRT.

  • Nathan Cassidy hosts the Rat Pack stand-up comedy on the first Monday of each month at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden, and you can steal his jokes on Twitter at @nathancassidy.

Published: 11 Feb 2013

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