Did you know that Reader’s Digest will pay to publish your funny Twitter jokes?
Did you know that Reader’s Digest is still publishing print magazines?
Before you answer the second question, know that the first question wasn’t affirmed until just recently, thanks to NYC-based comedian Dan Wilbur — and that’s only because he found out after publication that one of his jokes had made it into the magazine, without his permission or compensation.
For years, Reader’s Digest has accepted jokes from comedians and readers alike, offering submission guidelines with the tantalizing offer, “Everybody’s got a funny story. What’s yours? Send us your joke, quote, or a funny true story—if it’s selected for the magazine, you’ll be paid $100! For complete details, see Submit Your Joke Guidelines below.”
That’s not what happened with Wilbur, or with Twitter, apparently.
As Wilbur explained over the weekend in posts to his friends and followers: “A few months ago, a friend told me he’d been reading the September issue of Reader’s Digest and loved my joke. I was baffled, mostly because I can’t imagine a 20-something having a subscription to Reader’s Digest. Also, this was the first I’d heard about my joke being printed in the magazine.”
So he wrote the magazine a letter, asking for compensation of any sort.
“When I heard my joke was featured, it made me feel good. Getting a joke printed in Reader’s Digest is one of the few successes in my career that I can explain to my mom without needing to explain at length what people do on the Internet nowadays. So when I call my mom and tell her to look in September’s Genius Issue of your magazine for my joke, the first thing she’ll ask is why there’s an @ symbol in front of my name. Then I’ll have to explain that, well, I didn’t really ask you guys to print it, nor did I get paid, and then she’s going to ask me what, if anything, in comedy DOES pay, and then she’s going to ask when I’m going to get a real job and settle down and have kids and why I drink so much, and that’s just too much to deal with in one conversation, you know?”
He then countered with his own offer to them: “The LEAST you could do is give a shoutout to any of the writers you used via your Twitter account. The NEXT-TO-LEAST you could do is tell me you’re using a joke, send me a check for $25, and ask how I’d like to be credited. The MOST you could do is call my mom and tell her you think I “really got something good going with this comedy thing!” (I’d take this over the others if you’re able to do it.)”
Turns out, Reader’s Digest was willing to send him that check, dated Oct. 30, 2014.
“So you’ll have me to thank when they go bankrupt,” Wilbur quipped.
“Reader’s Digest has a long tradition of curating and paying for anecdotes and jokes,” Reader’s Digest public relations manager Paulette Cohen told The Huffington Post on Monday. “Dan Wilbur’s letter prompted us to begin classifying tweets in that same category, so we will now pay writers for tweets that we reprint in the magazine, as well as retweet them. We hope even more writers and comedians will send us their jokes in the future.”