A “comedian” named Nick Madson is doing huge chunks of my act.
Here he is this past Wednesday, April 27th, at The Harrison Hilltop in Davenport, Iowa. In this first, delightful excerpt, he recites my bits, “KFC Famous Bowls”, “A Man Shaves His Balls”, “Physics for Poets” and “Black Angus”:
He clumsily uses Dave Attell’s bit “The Unfuckables” as a lead-in to “Physics for Poets”. He also mispronounces “Cerberus” in the exact same way I mispronounce it on my Werewolves and Lollipops album. In the longer, un-cut version of this set, he also does jokes by Louie CK.
Then he continues. Here’s my bits, “Dr. Pepper” and “The Poetry of Porn”:
The crowd seems to like them. He got paid money for the show.
I have a couple of comedian friends who suffered some very public thievery at the hands of some wildly untalented hacks. Unlike Mr. Madson, who appears to be performing for ten people, my friends got to see their work plopped onto platinum-selling albums and yelled inside of packed stadiums.
I’ve always felt sorry for joke thieves. I’ve never once gotten angry about it. I always remember the scene from Powell’s The Red Shoes. Lermontov, the impresario, counsels the young composer, Craster, whose just had his score stolen by an older, burned-out composer: “It is worth remembering, that it is much more disheartening to have to steal than to be stolen from, hmmm?”
And that was my attitude towards my friends – I mean, it’s flattering, for starters. Plus, the comedian who stole your material clearly can’t write his or her own stuff. You’ll always out-create them.
Only now, seeing my stuff lifted and performed by someone else? Even though it’s front of less than a dozen people for, I’m guessing, a pittance?
I’m really hurt. It feels unpleasant. I worked very hard on those jokes – honed them night after night, kept challenging myself to make them funnier. Plus, I have a constant gallery of friends and colleagues in my head – Louie CK and Dave Attell among them – against whose work I compare my writing, and ask myself, sometimes harshly, if I’ve truly gotten my stuff to their level.
And I was also under the delusion that I’d developed enough of a voice – enough of a unique, personal voice – that my stuff would be hard to steal. And yet here’s Nick Madson – who, it turns out, is a stage actor – reciting huge chunks of my material and collecting a paycheck for doing it. I don’t think he does it particularly well – you’d think an actor would be able to fake subjective experience – but he’s at the minimum, trained-monkey competence to get laughs.
That Nick Madson is a thief is undeniable. Maybe, I thought, he’s a truly struggling actor, and did this show because he needed money, and feels bad about it. Or maybe he’s one of those deluded souls, like columnist and commentator Mike Barnicle (who lifted the majority of an August 2, 1998 Boston Globe column unchanged from George Carlin’s book Brain Droppings) who truly think that stand-up comedians get their jokes from books, and that any comedy bit is somehow public domain.
But then I find out that one of the other comedians on the show confronted Madson about the bits. And he said, in effect, “I write for Patton, and Louie, and Dave. I wrote those bits”.
So fuck him.
I mean, I can see stealing from me, who’s still relatively obscure. But who would be stupid enough to steal from Louis CK? You may as well take a classic bit from, say, Bill Cosby. Maybe something off of the album Himself, about training your son to be a football player. And then just yell it at the top of your lungs, with no nuance, finesse or humanity.
That’d be mucho stupido.
@ 8:57 AM on 4.30.2010
found his email on his site. tell him to suck it.
ps- i went to nut swamp elementary school and they sell pretty hilarious t-shirts if you're interested
Patton, here's what you do- work this into your next act, and use this guy's name. Then see him try to steal THAT joke. Make double sure to talk about his erectile dysfunction with everything that isn't clown paraphernalia.
You know, as much as I get a little tired hearing about how much better the Boston comedy scene was in the 80's from certain folks, and as big a pussy as I am, I have to admit that the harsh justice dealt out to material thieves in those days was sort of admirable in a way. A punnishment beating is kind of hard to ignore.
Once or twice early in my standup career, I was told that a bit I'd just done was either similar or nearly word for word like something someone else had been doing for a while. For me, it was mortifying. I have no idea how a jerk like this can hold his head up.
There's no excuse for this. Chalk up another hash mark for the Mencia's of the world. They're breeding. And yeah, *I* actually feel angry watching someone rip my favorite comic and a few of my other faves. Sorry, man. I don't know what you can do. If it were me, I *would* confront him. There's something to be said for being the bigger man, but don't let yourself (or your friends) get stepped on like this. It's just sad, really...
It's all so disgusting, not only that he stole bits but didn't even bother to memorize the text, practice his inflection or even try to be entertaining. It's insulting enough to just rip off chunks of other people's sets verbatim but then to read off a piece of paper like a 3rd Grader reciting their summer vacation is unforgivable.
Trust me... this guy is going to feel like shit tomorrow when the media nibbles at this. Whatever that crappy club payed him will not be worth the ridicule he is about to encounter. Kinda feel sorry for him, but karma's a bitch.
As a young hardworking and struggling comic; The very thought of anyone stealing my material scares the shit out of me. Who's to stop them? Seriously? Who's to stop some guest MC from LA to see my set here in Frisco and bring it back to LA? "He's a nobody, no one will notice."
It's things like this that keep me up late at night.
Get Louie and Dave, go to one of his shows and sit in the front row. Make him look you in the eye as he does your jokes. Hell, while your there, hand him something more recent and tell him that at least he could do some more contemporary stuff. Better yet, give him a Mencia CD. I guess it's good to know that more comedians are going green. Recycling jokes is a good start.