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Seriously, stop tweeting!

Intellectual property infringement is no laughing matter according to one comedian

Dave Thornton

Have you heard the one about the comedian who asked his audience not to tweet his best one-liners? No? That’s probably because it’s not a joke but a genuine attempt to put the whole issue of intellectual copyright (something that concerns all content creators) into perspective in the digital and social media age.

Melbourne comedian Dave Thornton is currently preparing his show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) and, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, will begin it with an appeal to the audience not to tweet his jokes.

The reason, he says, is that ‘jokes just aren’t as funny the second time around’. Thornton recounts a story of asking a woman to stop using her phone to film one of his gigs, telling her: ‘If you show that to everyone they’re not going to pay to come and see me ever again.

Thornton argues that ‘the surprise of a joke is no longer there if everyone knows how it’s going’. And it seems he’s not alone, with MICF director Susan Provan revealing that a number of performers at this year’s event are considering ‘no tweeting’ signs at venues – something she believes will become ‘more common’ over time.

There is, of course, a suitably comic irony to all this in that many comedians happily use social media in general – and twitter in particular – to promote themselves and get their material out there. Anyone who follows Wil Anderson would know what we’re talking about…

However, Susan Provan argues that ‘nothing is going to beat the experience of sitting in a house listening to a skilled performer doing their very own material’. The fear for the likes of Dave Thornton is that social media is going to kill live comedy in the same way the pokies have more or less killed live music in pubs.

Do social media users need to get a life?

‘I woz here – see, I can prove it…’

But as the comments at the end of the Herald article shows, this whole issue may say more about how people are using social media to experience live events than anything else.

‘Willburd from Victoria’ wrote: ‘People really struggle to live “in the moment” now. I was tagged on facebook from the gig I was at , why wasnt the person enjoying the show instead of showing everyone else ? Ive notived at gigs these days so many people are living the experience through their phone screen, its almost as if there a sense of “If I dont show everyone else I know , did it really happen?”…’

‘Tracy from Melbourne’ concurred: ‘I went to a concert at Rod Laver Arena last week and as soon as the band came on the cameras and phones came up and all you could see in the audience was the glow of screens. A person I know who was at the concert bragged on facebook that she’d taken over 400 photos. That’s one every 18secs. I suggested that she may like to put the camera down and enjoy the show and I copped a thinly disguised spray suggesting that there was something wrong with me ’cause I couldn’t take photos, dance, sing and have a good time simultaneously. No, I just choose to enjoy the concert through my eyes and remember it that way, rather than through a camera lens.’

Have people become so addicted to social media that now everything has to be viewed through its prism? Are we shortly going to be at the point when eating dinner will be filmed and posted/live streamed? And speaking of streaming…. What about going to the toilet? Or brushing teeth? Or opening the office door? Or painting a room (and watching said paint dry)? Is all that social media-worthy?

Oh well, at least there’s material there for a stand-up comedy routine. Just note, please, that the intellectual property belongs to The Message

 

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