A few weeks ago I did a show at the New York Comedy Club. Aside from the fact that I had some friends from out of town in the audience (Beth, Liz, and Melinda), there was nothing particularly special about this show. It was a Wednesday night, the summer was winding down. The night promised to be as uneventful as can be.
Since it was a slow night, I sat in the crowd with my friends. Usually I either walk around outside or sit by the bar till my turn, but today I decided to watch the show. There was one comic in particular who I was real glad I caught. Let’s call him Conan (because he said that people often tell him he looks like Conan O’Brien. He had pasty white skin, and big red hair.). Conan made sure it turned out to be a very eventful night.
As Conan began his set I could tell that he was a bit uncomfortable up there. The host read some of his credits and they sounded pretty bogus. He told one joke about kicking a little person that was actually kinda funny. This is when my girlfriend started to become suspicious.
“Dave, I’ve heard that joke before!”
“Are you sure? I’ve never heard it before.”
Now before we move on, I must point out that my girlfriend has been to nearly every show of mine. She knows more of these comics than I do. She was sure she had heard it, but just couldn’t place where. She told me to remind her after the show.
Conan continued on with his set, not really bombing, but hardly killing it up there either. My girlfriend was already highly annoyed at him and I am sure she was already giving him a bit of the stink eye. Then he told his next joke.
“So I learned a new word while reading the paper today; Niggardly!”
As soon as he said the word, things went silent. My girlfriend and my friend Alex snapped their heads around towards me, with a bewildered “did he just do what we think he did” look. I looked over to my out of town friends across the room, who were sitting up with awkward looks on their faces.
HE WAS DOING MY NIGGARDLY JOKE!!!
Just a few weeks before that night I had discovered the word while using twitter on my iPhone. (You can read the blog about it here.) Soon after, I performed the joke very successfully at a few shows. Now here we were, and Conan was telling the same damn joke! My girlfriend and Alex were super pissed. Alex told me later that he would have kicked his ass, but he didn’t want to act a fool at the place where I tell my jokes. I expressed my gratitude at his restraint.
So now I had this ass clown up on stage butchering my joke. He couldn’t even say the word without stuttering or mumbling it a little. This dude is maybe the whitest comic in New York City and he chose to steal a joke that uses the “n” word. Is he on drugs or something? To make matters worse, all my friends were looking at me wondering what I was going to do about it. I was on the spot, big time.
I went outside and waited for Conan to come out after his set. As I waited I just kept trying to figure out where he took the joke from. I had never seen this dude before, that joke was not on youtube yet, and what are the odds he stole it off my xanga page? I just couldn’t make sense of it in my head.
After a few minutes of waiting, Conan came outside. I tried not to look menacing, but I could tell he was a little nervous. I didn’t want to just straight up accuse him of joke stealing, so I tried to be objective.
“You know that those people were not mad at that niggardly joke for the reason that you think they were. It’s not cause you said nigga.” (Even though that was stupid!)
“Oh. What was it then?”
“I do the niggardly joke. They were not too happy to see you doing that joke too.”
“Aww man for real. I’ve been doing that joke for two years. I’ve never heard anyone else do it. That is crazy! I hope there are no hard feelings man.”
“Mmm hmm. It’s whatever.”
As he walked away, I was still trying to piece it all together. It wasn’t until later in the car that it all made sense.
– For someone who has been telling that joke for two years, he sure did seem uncomfortable doing it.
– My girlfriend later remembered where she had heard the little people joke and confirmed that he had stolen that one.
– The best possibility for where he had heard my joke is that he heard it from a friend (most likely a fellow comic), who had been at one of the shows where I did the joke the week before. Something as casual as, “yo dude I heard this really funny joke about the word niggardly last night.”
And so the verdict was that I had gotten joke jacked that night. Alex was left wishing that he had kicked that dude in his chest, my girlfriend was left wishing she had heckled him more, and I was left just shaking my head.
I guess maybe I should be flattered.
In any case, here is how the joke was supposed to go…