I was listening to the radio the other day and whoever I was listening to (I can't remember who) said his wife had tested positive for the Kung Flu. His sidekick asked how she was doing and the guy said something to the effect that "I'm not sure, but I have started dating again…".
I thought it was funny, so I stole the concept for a new Open Mike comic.
Stealing concepts has a glorious history in comedy. I know some comics get all bent out of shape when they find out someone is "stealing" their jokes. I get it. It's not that easy putting together funny material, and honing it down to the bare minimum to get the maximum laughs takes work, though it gets easier with experience. Someone taking their comedy bits directly out of your mouth without putting in the work themselves can be very irritating.
In this case, I didn't steal the joke itself, but I did crib the concept. I took the concept "My wife is ill and I still only think of myself" and put my own spin on it. It's similar, but I think that's fair game. I've heard many comics tell essentially the same joke, but in different ways, and I think that's fine. You can't police words, and some jokes can be told in multiple different ways.
I was never a comic that worried about someone stealing my jokes. I wasn't doing it for money, for one thing, and I would have taken it as a compliment. In fact, I've watched a TV special or two and heard variations of jokes I thought I wrote but were really just broad enough to be almost universal. Anyone could have come up with the same material.
Speaking of comedy and my failed comedy career, here's my very first Open Mic performance, which, as it happens, was also was my very best performance. Even though I wrote and performed a lot more funny material that was as good (if not better) than that first set, I never quite captured the energy from those first four minutes.