Joe Rogan: comedian, UFC commentator, jiu-jitsu blackbelt, former national taekwondo champion, undisputed podcast king (a billion downloads a year). In this video, he confronts Carlos Mencia, at the time one of the world’s biggest comics, about stealing jokes (something he later admitted to).
Joke theft is a particularly thorny issue amongst comedians – unlike books or songs, jokes aren’t protected by the same copyright laws. There’s a lot of crossover, a lot of people covering similar topics (sometimes in very similar ways). Of course, a lot of it’s accidental: we all live in the same world, so it’s bound to happen sometimes.
But when it’s deliberate, planned, and used to further your own career at the expense of others – that’s pretty fucking nasty. That’s what Carlos was doing.
Joe is a moral guy. He took a stand – confronted this comedic giant, onstage, at The Comedy Store, surrounded by his fans. Joe was in the right – you can see how the crowd respond to him in the video below.
In a fairytale world, Carlos would be shamed, and retire from the scene.
Guess what really happened. Joe was dropped by his agent, banned from The Comedy Store, and ended up quitting the business for 7 years.
How on earth does that happen?
Well, Carlos was making a lot of money at the time. He was selling out stadiums and arenas and getting standup specials commissioned left and right. Joe wasn’t much of an earner compared to him: and so he was dropped.
But, if there’s something we’ve seen time and time again throughout human history, in every industry, across every country and time period, it’s that that kind of insincerity, the career built on theft and lies – it can’t last. It eventually comes crashing down.
Joe had to deal with some serious fallout from his actions. If he was logical, he just shouldn’t have said anything – kept his head down, ignored it. But he didn’t. He took a stand.
But, in the long run, who are we going to remember more? The guy who stuck to his principles, stayed honest, and confronted a thief – at great personal cost? Or a liar and a cheat who couldn’t build a career off his own back, despite being talented – so used his fame and power to bully and steal from others?
We’ve just got to look at where they both are now. Joe is on top of the world, universally respected. Carlos is nowhere to be seen.
Are you willing to suffer the consequences of being right? Are you able to deal with challenges of the long, arduous (but ultimately the right) road? Or are you going to try and take shortcuts, to lie and cheat your way to the top?