Dear Mr. Davis,
I’m writing you to aplogize. For years I stole your jokes. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at first. I was just doing jokes I heard other comedy jugglers say were “stock”. I was also doing jokes that were suggested to be by other performers. I thought they were generous geniuses to so freely give away such great lines to an amateur like me. I didn’t know they were your jokes until I moved to San Francisco and worked with some real professionals, who kindly took me aside and said “What the fuck are you doing? Those are Michael Davis’ jokes”. But…I was told…you mean….he wrote those? Oh….shit.
I immediately set to remove all of those jokes from my show. But, it didn’t happen over night. It was a slow process to excise your jokes from my material. They propped up and supported my acts. I had built around them. Eventually I was able to get rid of them. For the most part. If I had a really terrible show or a tough audience they’d come rushing back unbidden to save the day. I started writing my own jokes and they were pale in comparison to yours. I worked even harder and still I couldn’t write a joke as good. That’s when I first realized how big of a deal material theft was. I did my best work and it wasn’t as good as yours and I had just taken that from you. I am so sorry.
As someone who (now) champions orignality and transparency I feel like it is important to come clean. I’m not the only one who stole your jokes. There are many more like me. Many acts who wanted to get into the business but lacked the juice and so we borrowed, begged, and stole to get our feet off the ground. It worked and we all owe you a debt.
I don’t know if it’s true or not but there is a story of your purchasing a joke for $100. I always loved that story. I can’t afford to pay you what you deserve for the unauthorized covers of your jokes I performed. Nor do I think you’d like any of my jokes as payment. I can only hope that in writing this apology and helping to inform and stop others from further plagiarizing your work that I can begin to repay you. I know it’s not enough but I’d also like to send you a check for $100 as a gesture of contriteness.
There are two ways to make reparations: with you getting what you deserve…and the way we’re doing them.