Did Last Comic Standing comedian steal a joke from an actress? Watch the videos.

By | June 29, 2010 at 12:19 pm | 11 comments | News, Opinion, TV/Movies | Tags: , , ,

Stealing a joke is a serious crime in the stand-up community. And these days, with the onslaught of social media, it’s easy to get caught doing it.

And now the latest accusations of thievery are based around Last Comic Standing. Last week comedian Jason Weems made it to the semi-finals, in part, by doing a joke about Magic Johnson speaking at Michael Jackson’s funeral service. After the airing of the show, he Facebook messaged an actress – who has dabbled in comedy – telling her that it was brought to his attention that she’s performing the same bit down in Florida.

In the letter, Weems wrote, “Stealing jokes is the worst possible thing you can do in comedy, and if your not inspired enough to create your OWN stuff – QUIT. DO NOT PERFORM MY JOKES ANY MORE.”

In an interview with The Examiner, the actress/comedian Jeanette Cause laid out her story claiming that she never stole the bit. In fact she has been performing it since just a few days after Jackson’s funeral. She says, “I want to point out that I’m not accusing anyone of recycling the joke from me. I just became aware when a message came in on my private Facebook page on Tuesday night…”

“That video was shot October 11th of 2009,” she continues. “The reason I know the specific date is, that video was shot at a benefit that I was performing in for a very good friend who tragically lost her husband.”

Now, it’s possible the Baltimore-based Weems has been performing the joke just as long as Cause, it’s just that it’s now been seen by a national audience. So, that could mean Cause stole from Weems. Or, it could simply mean both performers came up with the same joke.

Check out the jokes below. What do you think. Did someone steal from someone? Is it just a coincidence? Let us know in the comments section.

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Nate Billy

  • laila55

    Jokes cannot be copyrighted because of the Merger Doctrine (a joke is a merger of an idea and an expression, and Copyright Law can’t give you a monopoly on ideas). That’s why comedians use Social Norms to protect their jokes: collective shaming on the culprit. Now the fun part: according to comedians, you can NEVER steal a joke. Really? Well, this is AGAINST Copyright Law, which allows for fair use. So, let the judge be the judge. The comedians’ ancient social norms are WRONG because they stifle fair creativity.

  • Adam

    31 million people watched Michael Jackson’s funeral on TV…I’d be willing to bet that AT LEAST one million had the exact same thought upon hearing Magic Johnson’s story. Weems should be ashamed of himself for thinking that was a strong enough/original joke to tell on national television and he should be embarrassed that he called someone out in public for “stealing” such an unoriginal, unfunny bit.

  • http://Www.BradMeehan.com Brad Meehan

    I wrote a bit on my website on Mothers Day saying, “without me you wouldn’t even be a mother”. On the last episode of Last Comic Standing someone said the exact same thing. I’ve never heard of her and I doubt she’s ever heard of me so I chaulked it up as parallel thinking.

    Of course now that she did it on tv, I can’t use it. :(


  • Rob

    Marc Maron has been talking about joke stealing in general a lot on his podcast. Basically he’s been saying what other people are saying on here; if it’s a topical joke it probably wasn’t stolen, probably everyone is writing that joke.

  • Graham

    Write more original jokes.

  • Peter Cianfarani

    That’s the problem with stock humour; knowledge of a common event will bring out the most obvious humour. I’ll bet more then just these two came up with something similar. However, where the difference should lie is in the POV of their stage personae and in this case, they are eerily similar. Tough call but ideally, whomever has proof they did it first usually wins out.

    On the other hand, a number of very famous comedians have made a huge career indefinitely borrowing the humour of lesser known comics and claiming it was their own … developed around the same time even if it was delivered way after. So really, who is to say?

  • Travesty

    The fact that she has proof of doing the bit a full EIGHT MONTHS before his joke was aired is proof enough that they probably came up with the exact same topical-joke, or that there’s more proof that HE stole from HER. But the bottom line comes to this: The joke has an easy premise, and a mediocre punch. If Weems is trying to be a professional comedian, he should realize that this simple joke could have been made by both, just drop it, and come up with something better, cause the joke is kinda flat as it is. I mean, this really isn’t a well known, non-topical, Louis CK or Cosby bit. 😉

  • james

    Weems is an asshole. This is a joke anybody could have thought of; it practically writes itself. He should just thank his lucky stars he got on TV with it.

  • Mike

    They both wrote the same shitty topical joke. Saying “Magic won championships and beat aids, but he’s excited about chicken” is not a revolutionary thought. I’m sure the same thing popped into the head of a guy sitting on the can in Mississippi watching the service.

    If anything Jason should be ashamed that this actress knows WAY more about Magic Johnson’s sports career than he does.

  • http://twitter.com/funnyjs JS

    When the Jesse James cheating thing came out, I did a joke (like 1,000 other comics I’m sure) about how people are so shocked a guy name JESSE JAMES did something bad. A couple of weeks later, Chris Rock stopped by the Cellar to work out some stuff for Letterman. He did the exact same bit. It was just a cheap topical bit.

    Somebody (don’t remember who) told me that if two comics come up with an identical bit, it’s not that good of material, even if it kills.

  • ed wilcox

    It is similar but if someone stole it she did a better job with it and he had a better delivery.

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