The process of taking a thought and putting it on a page-then into your memory, then presenting it to an audience to see if it's effective-is the most rewarding and fun part of my job.
Using someone else's comedy material makes very little sense to me. That's why when I first started writing and performing, and it became apparent my stories and jokes were salable; I made a rule to use only my original material in my shows.
As time went on, I loosened my own rule and allowed myself to tell two jokes that I thought were very funny, that fit perfectly into the rhythm of my show, and more importantly, were fun to tell. I allowed myself to do that only if I told the audience that I didn't write the jokes.
I recently came upon another joke I like: The next time you come to one of my shows you may hear it, not because I need material, but because it will fit nicely in certain pockets of my show and, mostly, because the way it's built calls for a type of punch line delivery that's as much fun for a comic as hitting a walk-off homer is for a baseball player. I'll tell my audience that I didn't write it. If I do decide to use it, I may build around it a bit in order to punch it up. It'll be fun, for me, to see what I come up with.
Actually I already have built around it. It's basically a totally new joke, 'cept for the punch line. Guess that's what you call "Makin' it your own/Stealin' a joke." Check it out. But remember, it's all in the delivery-
Vermont Farmer was bringing his cows 'cross the main road, one of the few places in the state it's still done that way. Out-of-staters just love driving over a path of cow doo. Makes 'em feel welcome.
About the time the last cow was 'cross, a great big Mercedes sedan pulled through with Texas license tags; a big ol' Texas guy drivin', his big Texas wife next to him, and two big Texas kids in the backseat. Texas guy stops right n' the middle of the path of cow doo-sticks his head out the window, says to the farmer, "This Here ya'lls farm?"
The Vermont Farmer, without looking around says, "Hyuh."
Texan says, real slow like, "Back home in Texas, I get in my truck, drive from one end of my farm, all the way the other end -it takes me all day to do it."
Vermont farmer turns to the Texan and says, "I used to have a truck just like that."
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com