What is a hack comic? Simply put, it is a comic who chooses to use the “same old” topics that have been used over and over again by other comics in hopes of getting an easy laugh. All comics fall prey to this. It is the comic that recognizes the hack premises and immediately dumps them, that will eventually grow and succeed. It’s all part of the learning process. So, although it may be really easy to pick on the Kardashians, it is simply too overdone to continue doing it!
Many famous comics have been accused of stealing other comics’ material, and while I completely detest the practice, I have got to play the devil’s advocate on this. It used to really upset me when I heard, as most stand up comedy fans may have heard, that Carlos Mencia regularly steals jokes. The problem is, some of the jokes he was accused of stealing were jokes that were really easy for anybody to come up with! Does this mean he’s not a talented and funny comic? As a comic, I dissect the methods and strategies used by comics. For me, it is the comic that completely pulls me in unexpected directions, that I really admire and try to be like. I feel that’s the case for every audience when they have chosen to follow any comic of their liking.
Let’s get back to Mencia. As a comic, I recognize that Mencia has been performing for many years. He has performed in front of bar audiences, quiet and subdued audiences in charity events, audiences that were less than friendly, audiences that were more interested in drinking than to listen to the guy on stage with the mic, audiences that preferred to watch the sporting event on the bar’s TVs than to deal with the talking distraction in the spotlight, and other audiences too various to mention. He has endured the horrible experience of completely bombing on stage. He has had to endure the unrelenting heckling that can throw any comic off their game. He has offended people that did not understand his humor and those people have let him know about it. He has had to endure the negative comments of people around him that try to hold him back. He has even had to hear those same negative comments from those people he considered to be friends. He has put up with having to pay a fee to get himself on stage. He’s had to pay for his travel and finance his hotels before anyone knew or cared who he was.
Yet through all of this, audiences took notice. They liked him. They appreciated his humor. They wanted to hear more from him. He was THEIR comic! Do you think he did that by stealing jokes? Do you think he got there by being unoriginal and a hack? No. He didn’t. He put in the work and can now enjoy the fruits of his labor. To every comic that has reached that successful point in their stand up career, I salute them. They did it. Audiences are not stupid. They recognize original talent and they reward it with their undivided attention…