wearing stock costumes on halloween is always okay

Two guys walk into a bar. .

And find that this is not funny. Okay, should you use stock jokes, or as we comedians call them HACK jokes? I’ve talked about joke formulas like “he’s so big” or “top reasons why. . .” and I think that’s okay. You get recognition and familiarity, people know a joke is coming, and audiences like those familiar, funny lines. Plus it’s easy. Just plug in your new nouns/subjects, and you’ve got a new joke.

But what I’m talking about

Is using a joke that’s been told over and over and over again. I saw a comedian’s website recently and he used an old, old joke on there, and I thought it was a bad idea. For him I thought it was a bad idea because, well, he’s a comedian and he should showcase his original humor. But for non-comedians who just want to kick off a talk with a joke or sprinkle a few in their speeches, my advice would also be “don’t do it.” You risk part of your audience having already heard the joke, so they think you’re a thief and/or unoriginal, and another part of your audience probably will hear the joke sometime, and then they’ll think of you as a thief and/or unoriginal.

We’re finding too much

off the internet these days, and you have to be careful. Plus using hack jokes is a form of stealing if you’re not giving credit to the person who wrote it. And remember, someone did write the joke – it’s just impossible in some cases to trace back the comedy material. But stock jokes didn’t just materialize out of the blue like suddenly seeing a bug in your house and you have no idea where it came from or how it got there – but I digress.

The word HACK

by the way means to “cut, chop, slash, lacerate, scythe, hew, slice” which is what you’re doing to your credibility when you use a “standard” joke. It reminds me of the time I was watching this motivational speaker, and he was going to play a video. He asked the room who has seen the “fish video” and ½ of the room raised their hands. I thought, wow, why is he playing that thing that’s been on the internet forever??

I guess there’s a fine line

Between stock jokes and internet jokes that get passed around. I do my fair share of passing jokes around, but I don’t put them into my act and try to pass them off as mine.

So be weary

of hack jokes and instead of using them just be original with your own jokes. You’ll have more fun and feel better when people compliment you on your sense of humor.