The other day, I wrote an extravagantly laudatory post about a father and daughter from New Zealand who were posting some of the funniest observational one-liners I'd read. An intrepid reader here, Ed, wrote to tell me that pretty much all (or all, period) of the daughter's postings were written by others. One by comic Emo Phillips, for instance, another by ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. I checked out a bunch myself, and that was the case. I even checked a couple by the father, and it was the same.
I've deleted the post. Telling an "old joke" is one thing. Telling other people's jokes as if they were your own is something else entirely -- as is solely telling previously-written jokes all the time as your voice and giving no indication that they aren't yours. As a professional writer I take these things seriously. To professional writers, it's among the most-serious thing. At best it's foolishly thoughtless. At worst it's plagiarism.
Sorry for the raves. They've been taken down, here and on Facebook. And thanks to Ed.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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