I was out walking my dog late last night, and I found a most peculiar paper nailed up to a telephone post. The title had long since blown away, but judging from the content, I'd say it's about a week old at most.
Judging by the content, I'd say it's bull.
She walked to the microphone on the front stage at Wordstock and announced her work, "The Book of Rant". This book, which was relatively unknown at the time turned out to be the most horrible text ever. Now, The Book of Rant shouldn't even legally exist, as it had bits from Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Bill Engvall, all the greats inside. It was as if Tanis had ripped them off from their respective owners. In fact, I would go as far as to say that she didn't even change the words, that she just used them verbatim.
Does this person mean to say that Tanis Nikana was there at Wordstock last week, when I saw em across the street from me, fixing dinner? That, and this person here, this story-spinner, this person seems to be a little assumptive about facts that relate to matters below the waist. I mean, I've known Tanis for too many years now, and I don't even know.
Sara Mine of Willamette Week, a Portland-based weekly paper devoted to the arts, describes what happened:
"A hushed calm captured the whole theater, as she turned to her selected excerpt. Nikana began reading a short section about mothers and fathers, which most knew was from Bill Cosby. Oddly enough, as this was one of the funnier segments from Cosby's work as well as The Book, no one laughed. Nikana couldn't even pull off the ending growl."
I headed over to eir house in the early evening yesterday and asked about this book. E responded, in that carefully pitched voice that "of course, it's upstairs, though it's only a stack of paper. You mean to say that it has been published. I get the notion that it's not the case."
Of course it isn't. The Willamette Week exists, but this Sara Mine is about as real as the Tooth Fairy.
However, Tanis still had fifteen minutes left of reading, so she flipped to her next excerpt. I was around to hear this one, but I don't quite remember it verbatim. She said something about seeing an invisible canine at a park, along with Cher and Al Capone. The audience's reaction to this was a look of stony silence from everyone; the hecklers even thought it would be a waste of time to jeer her.
Her jokes had almost no focus, and each sentence seemed to be on a different subject. She quickly transitioned from ugly women, to dating, to guilt, and to a convenience store in about one minute.
"I think I did write it that way. It is The Book of Rant, after all, but I would think I never read it aloud, in case someone hears me." Tanis confided in me over a drink in my kitchen.
It was about this time that the jeers kicked in. Stephen King, who read his passage to the audience shortly before Nikana took center stage, said that "they called her a stupid ----h, as well as a whore who couldn't even use someone else's material, and that, and I quote 'a broad who sucks at absolutely everything, most of all comedy'. And I just thought she was dumb."
King wasn't there. I even asked for a copy of the Wordstock program through the mail. Not listed.
Nikana wasn't one to take jeers lightly. She lost her balance, and her book fell from her hand, and she fell to the floor, and started sobbing right on stage. This only infuriated the hecklers even more. They said things that will, for the time being, remain in that room.
She then ran off stage, her book lying there on the hardwood.
Isaac Asimov apparently shows no remorse, as just before his reading, he walks out and picks up the book, and selects another passage to read to the hungry public. This time, it's one of Cosby's bits, about selecting from a candy shop.
No. Isaac Asimov has been dead for far too long now.
But here, we need to stop and consider what would drive a woman to such plagiarism. Perhaps she just wanted to be great, to have a chance at excelling at something she would otherwise fail at? Or perhaps she was just greedy, seeking to make a profit off of others' work. Of course, there is always the notion that she just wanted some good jokes to tell, even though she told them quite poorly.
If one reads The Book of Rant carefully, even with no comedy knowledge, one can see the difference between Nikana's own jokes, as well as those jokes she stole from other people. Consider, if you will, these two passages:
"AOL. America's One Loser. Asylum On Line. America On Line. Where there is so much web filtering it thinks AOL.com is inappropriate. Whatever you want to call it, there are mothers on there all day long, their kids 'When can we get some dinner?' 'Go away. I'm looking at another Big Brother site.' the inexperienced with computers 'Power button? What power button?' and the dumb 'AOL is the best! Go Macintosh!'. They have so much censorship that they nailed me on 'Tanis_Nikana: Stop being such a boob.'."
E did tell me that that wasn't eir best bit, and that e only copied to make the book better.
"I have been to Los Angeles, and I have noticed one thing: does it make any sense to put the dip sign two inches before you get to the dip? 'What's the sign say? It says-kapow! -dip.' They should put the sign after you get to the dip: 'You have just hit a dip, thank you very much, we appreciate that.'"
It should be rather easy, I think, to tell which one is written by Tanis herself, and which one was written by Cosby. It generally seems that (as I have said before), that Tanis' jokes lack focus and clarity, while those of other comedians have pages of material to use before they can even start pondering the fact that they will run out.
Notorious fictional comedian Herschel Krustofsky, known to his fans as "Krusty the Klown", is famous for stealing the material of others. In fact, he advocates it as a means of surviving as a comedian. Most other comedians even borrow the works of others, though unlike Tanis, they take care to change the language and to integrate them into their own jokes, rather than just have them appearing on the page word for word, separated by a series of asterisks.
Of course, even though it was a terrible book, it sold quite well, with the morbid curiosity of its' buyers as if they were planning to watch "Manos: Hands of Fate". Although Tanis was quickly sued out of the money she received for publishing the book, it was all gone practically the day it hit the shelves.
After reading The Book, I too have to confirm, with no offense to Tanis, that Manos was better.
That would one of many reasons why she killed herself that night, just off stage. The gunshot effectively silenced J. K. Rowling, who was reading from her sixth book, with the noise from the previous fiasco dissipated and forgotten.
Attentive audience members would have caught at what Rowling was staring so intently: a slow trickle of human blood was inching its way across the stage, originating from what I could only guess was Tanis' head.
A new fact needs to be considered herein. Why, after only this mistake, would she kill herself?
I should ask em.