Most stand-up comedians would be psyched when a joke of theirs goes viral on Twitter and is on the front page of Reddit. Myq Kaplan’s joke about vegans has become a hit on the Internet. Buzzfeed’s tweet about it has over 600 retweets and a photo of the joke on Imgur has over 600,000 views. It has over 13,000 upvotes on reddit! The problem is: the posts don’t give any credit to Kaplan performing the joke. All of the stories are about a photo of a sign in a butcher shop’s window in West Vancouver, Canada.
Joke theft is a common worry amongst talented comedians whose bits may not yet be as recognizable like jokes from Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock. Kaplan, a New York City-based comedian who was a semi-finalist on Last Comic Standing and has released two well-reviewed solo comedy albums, performed the joke on Conan back in 2012. “The problem I have is that the story for everywhere that’s reporting/blogging/discussing it is, ‘Look, a butcher shop made a joke about vegans,’ and not, ‘Look, a butcher shop took a joke about vegans from a vegan,’” he told Laughspin.
As fans of Kaplan’s stand-up noticed the theft, comments began to surface from users of various social media sites crediting the comedian for the joke and shaming the shop for not doing so itself. The Windsor Meat Co. has since removed the joke from its Facebook page, posting, “Wow everyone needs to relax. The sign was a joke from a Vegan comedian that we found funny. Now everyone stop fighting and lets [sic] settle this all over a nice steak dinner…” They have still yet to say the name of that comedian and give credit where credit is due. When I reached out on Facebook to the company saying it would have been proper to credit Kaplan, they responded by saying they didn’t know who it was at the time. Instead of taking a moment to research the video they saw (or just not use someone’s joke without permission altogether), they went ahead and plagiarized, treating the comic like an unpaid advertising copywriter. A lesson to businesses: we know you’re not very funny. Pay the funny people to take care of your witty signs. Or at least throw their Twitter handle at the bottom.
See Myq Kaplan’s Conan set with his other vegan jokes below!
UPDATE: The Windsor Meat Co. has issued an apology to Myq Kaplan via their Facebook page yesterday after posts appeared about their plagiarism. “Apologies for not crediting talented comedian Myq Kaplan for the vegan joke we used on the sign,” they posted. “Although we were unaware of who the comedian was initially the bit made us laugh and we wanted to share it with our customers…not crediting the comedian when we found out his name was a mistake.”