Comedian Matt Kirshen says beer company stole his joke for their commercial

By | August 14, 2012 at 11:02 am | 7 comments | feature slider, News | Tags: , , , , ,

“I was playing chess with my friend and he said, ‘Let’s make this interesting.’ So we stopped playing chess.”

That well-written joke is from stand-up comedian Matt Kirshen, but, more recently it’s been featured in a series of commercials for Old Jamaica Ginger Beer, which have been running on Comedy Central in the UK. The commercials feature members of the public telling their favorite jokes; one of them sounds an awful lot like Kirshen’s.

Kirshen tweeted: “Hey, @old_jamaica ginger beer. Thanks for stealing my joke for your @ComedyCentralUK ad campaign Where you have people telling their favourite gags.”

The owner of the Old Jamaican beer brand is Cott Beverages, who have sunk £2 million into the advertising campaign. Kirshen believes (and it seems absolutely legit) that Cott was certainly aware of the joke. Kirshen says, “It was featured heavily in the press last year since it was on Dave’s jokes of the fest round-up, complete with widespread press release. Then the [UK newspaper] Telegraph listed it in its jokes of the year, and finally it was nominated for best joke in the Loaded Laftas.” You can see the joke, as it appears in the commercial, below.

We’ve emailed and called Cott yesterday for a response, but they haven’t responded. However, about six hours ago, the beer company’s Twitter account tweeted at Kirshen, asking, “Do you have an email address we can contact you on?” Kirshen suggested they start following him so that he can send a direct message. I guess we’ll see what happens next.

About the Author

Lucas Gardner

Lucas Gardner is a writer native to Rochester, NY. He nows lives in New York City. He has a Twitter and a blog.

  • steve

    Even if a joke could have been thought of by others this guy has proof he thought of it first. If you steal a design unknowingly they still have to pay. Why should it be different for comedy?

  • ben

    That reminds me a lot of Attell’s old horse shoes joke.

  • Kyle

    That’s frustrating. Glad to see the company is actually reaching out to him after they say the error of their ways. It could just have been an oversight by one employee; who knows. Hopefully it’s for some appropriate compensation.

    Otherwise, I’d incorporate this whole debacle into my act, even if it was a fictionalized account of it. You’re a comic; you write and perform jokes. Don’t get hung up on a six-second bit when you can be writing your next thirty minute set.

  • John Staley

    Well, Kirshen’s joke does not have public domain title to it like, “take my wife, please!” so it can not get put out by a company even if some dude on the street says it. Also, the joke is a one liner which can get copywritten, so Matt should invest in doing that.

  • Mike

    So the commercial features random people on the street telling their favorite jokes and one guy repeats Kirshen’s? That’s not stealing. They’re not claiming they wrote it. They should have given credit to Kirshen at the bottom of the screen or something but it’s entirely possible the 20 or so people who saw the ad before it was sent out didn’t read the articles that published it. I also don’t think this means he has to stop doing the joke either.

  • comedy fan

    its one joke. bummer. move of, write 10 more.

    • robingee

      I disagree.

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