Joke thievery is comedy's deadliest sin. The mere accusation can be a career destroyer. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are all the times I can remember stealing jokes.
  1. My friend Mike had a great anecdote about seeing "Child's Play 2" in a movie theater where an eight-year-old girl said to her mother, "Mama, I loooooove Chucky." Totally stole this anecdote as my own and told it onstage for years.
    The first time I showed Mike a tape of my standup, I forgot this bit was in the set. I braced myself for his reaction. He didn't say anything. I pretended it didn't happen, all the while dying of embarrassment.
  2. George Lopez was hosting the Emmys. He asked me to write jokes for him. When he introduced "The Amazing Race," I told him to say, "That's what I call white people."
    A few nights later, at an open mic comedy show, I overheard Zach Galifianakis telling friends: "George Lopez stole my 'Amazing Race' joke on the Emmys!" In a flash, it hit me - I'd heard Zach tell that joke, like, 50 times. The fact that I didn't realize that while pitching it to Lopez was completely insane. I was too embarrassed to apologize to Zach, but I should have.
  3. A celebrity paid me to write jokes for his Twitter feed. I was in a writer's room when my friend Travis made an "Inception" joke. I immediately sent it to the celeb - uncredited. 30 minutes later, another writer checking his phone announced, "Travis - this celebrity just stole your Inception joke!"
    I was mortified. I came clean to Travis, came clean to the celebrity and offered to buy Travis dinner as an apology. He just laughed about it. I love Travis.
  4. In junior high, I put on a dress and performed Dana Carvey's entire Church Lady bit in the school cafeteria. A girl asked if I came up with the whole thing, and I said yes.
    When I told my Catholic friend Noel what I had done, he told me - without a hint of Church Lady-related irony - that I would go to Hell for lying. I stressed over it for quite a while.