Nicked Jokes. Allegedly.

This is a picture of Denis Leary. That's all I'm saying.

This is a picture of Denis Leary. That's all I'm saying.

Here’s a list of some specific joke spats to go with my Sunday Times article on joke thievery – with the odd youtube link that’s definitely worth watching. I have to thank Twitter for helping me locate a lot of these… Also, there’s one juicy possible joke-theft I haven’t included here. But will blog about that imminently…

Jokes which went round the net as TOMMY COOPER’s, actually by TIM VINE.
“So I rang up my local swimming baths. I said ‘Is that the local swimming baths?’ He said ‘It depends where you’re calling from.'”

“So I was getting into my car, and this bloke says to me “Can you give me a lift?” I said “Sure, you look great, the world’s your oyster, go for it.'”

Joke first told by JIMMY CARR at the Royal Variety Performance, 2002. Similar joke later used by JIM DAVIDSON on his BBC1 show “On the Road”
Someone came up to me last week and complained about a joke, quite a big-boned girl. She said: ‘I think you’re fattist’. I said: ‘No, I think you’re fattest’.”

American comic DENIS LEARY was constantly accused of ripping off fellow stand-up BILL HICKS. This joke forms part of the evidence.
Bill Hicks: The fact is we live in a world where John Lennon was murdered yet Barry Manilow continues to put out albums.
Denis Leary: We live in a country where John Lennon gets 6 bullets in the chest. Yoko Ono’s standing next to him – not one f**king bullet!
For more on this CLICK HERE.

Joke performed by MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE placed seventh in the TV Channel Dave’s funniest jokes on Edinburgh Fringe (August 09), and joke posted on Twitter in November 09 by popular Tweeter @SHITMYDADSAYS,  soon to get his own sitcom.
Brigstocke:”To the people who’ve got iPhones: you just bought one, you didn’t invent it!”
@Shitmydadsays: Son, noone gives a shit about all the things ur cellphone does. You didn’t invent it, you just bought it. Anyone can do that.

Joke by JACK WHITEHALL, placed fifth in the funniest jokes on the Fringe, and joke made by ROBBIE WILLIAMS as part of Radio 1’s Electric Proms in October.
Jack Whitehall: “I’m sure wherever my dad is, he’s looking down on us. He’s not dead, just very condescending.”’
Robbie allegedly said: “I’m sure my aunt’s looking down on me now. She’s not dead, she’s just really condescending.”

Joke written by MARCUS BRIGSTOCKE but attributed on the internet to various computer people including BILL GATES
“If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”

Joke posted by stand-up GARY DELANEY on Twitter (15th July) then posted on by LILY ALLEN without crediting him (18th July).
“Old MacDonald had Tourettes – E, I, E, I, CUNT”

Joke by comedian JOSIE LONG, submitted as his own to the Adam and Joe Show by a member of the public, JAMES HEWITT
“How much do you have to pay to play sport at Hogwarts? A quid each.”

Joke first performed by comic MICHAEL REDMOND then subsequently by JOE PASQUALE, according to fellow stand-up Stewart Lee (an absolute genius routine: CLICK HERE)
“People are always saying to me…. Get out of my garden!”

Joke posted on Twitter by Ross “Teddy” Craig in September 09, then posted by someone else on Sickipedia.org, October 09.
I’ve just had an all-day breakfast. My gran’s got alzheimers and loves to cook.

Comedy duo The Mighty Boosh accused a Sugar Puffs advert of ripping off their “crimping”, a form of rap. They took revenge by killing a Honey Monster in their live show.

Joke by ARI SCHAFFER, one of the comics American stand-up CARLOS MENCIA has been accused of stealing from. He’s been heckled and even hit by fellow comedians JOE ROGAN. (Great onstage row at L.A. Comedy Store – CLICK HERE)
Ari Schaffer: “Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to build a huge 12 foot wall along the Mexican/ Californian border to keep the Mexicans out. But Arnold, who do you think is going to build that wall?”
Carlos Mencia: “I propose we kick all the illegal aliens out of this country, then we build a superfence so they can’t get back in” – “Erm… Who’s going to build it?”

See also my Bill Hicks vs David Hare post.

  1. Interesting article.

    While some of you examples demonstrate clear cut plagiarism, others cannot be proven.

    I seem to recall that the Jimmy Carr/Jim Davidson joke was proven (in court I think!) to have been in existence for several years before either performed it.

    There’s also the issue of coincidence. I wrote and published an Obama joke on my blog (www.charlesletterman.com) only to see it performed almost word for word on Mock the Week several weeks later.

    It is unlikely that Andy Parsons actually read my blog and took the joke for himself, more likely that it was a fairly obvious one if your mind works a certain way. (Apart from it was quite funny, so I do have my suspicions that it was AP’s work.)

  2. Petherwin says:

    No sympathy on the “lift” and “looking down” jokes. I’ve heard variations of both lots of times. I mean, they’re such common dead metaphors that many people must have picked up on their wordplay potential before.

  3. Susan Wormald says:

    I am reliably informed that Robbie Williams told that same joke at Knebworth in 2003 – my daughter says she has it on DVD.

  4. Chris B says:

    The Problem with Lilly Allen stealing jokes is her Hypocrasy. I don’t have any filesharing software, but if I did, I would download her back catalogue just so that I could delete it.

  5. Chris B says:

    Oops. Hypocrisy. With an I. I wish I could type.

  6. I lately came across your blog and have been learning along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don

  7. Deats says:

    Hi David,

    I was in the US a few years ago when the whole Carlos Mencia, Joe Rogan thing was kicking off – and I remember seeing Mencia do that joke (I think it was on his Comedy Central Show, Mind of Mencia).

    Anyway – flipping through the channels, I saw a different comedian (Not Ari, who beleives he wrote the joke, an older fella, can’t remember his name – he appeared to be an old favourite, kinda like a black Des O’Connor) on a chat show, and he told the same joke (albeit, badly). Which kinda made me think that Mencia was getting probably a bit too much stick from Rogan over the incident – there are some jokes which, especially when politically motivated, or motivated by current affiars, where several comedians could come up with the same idea or riff. The news that GWBush wanted to build a wall to stop Mexicans entering the country illegally is a case in point.

    The same I think goes for Josie Long’s gag – I am sure many people have made the link between quidditch and ‘a quid each’ – what’s odd is that she should claim ownership of it so vehemently – that joke isn’t particularly funny (imho).

    So, I’ve no idea if any of this makes sense, as I’ve not read it back. But I think my point is that there may be some situations where apparent theft is possibly just a coincidence, and as comics they are looking at situations with a similar eye (i.e. where’s the comedy here?).

    That said, apparently Mencia’s been nicking loads of jokes for years. And made a shitload of money doing it.

    And, let’s be fair and to paraphrase a quote from your oiginal article: what the fuck do I know about comedy?

    Deats.

  8. Tim Walker says:

    Small point, but the Jack Whitehall/Robbie Williams gag I have heard variants of going years back (certainly before Jack was old enough to do stand up). Indeed, years ago I used to do the same gag, in the context of being at a relative’s funeral, e.g. “My granddad was a very condescending man. And when he died, everyone at the funeral said that wherever he was, he was sure to be looking down on us”. I think I also once heard Gary Delaney (I think?) perform a variation of this gag. Jack may have got the attention for it, but I think in this case it might be said that this joke is a child of many parents.

  9. I like doing stand up comedy! up is tough to do, but very cool.

  10. Lupe Beuth says:

    mmkay so I spent the last 15 minutes searching for the same theme you’re using and can’t find it. Didn’t want to have to ask but really would like to use it for my blog, could you let me know? I’ll check back here soon for any replies. Thank you

  11. thechandra says:

    I have been convinced for over twenty years that people have been stealing my jokes and ideas – telepathically. People keep saying to me it is just coincidence and people were bound to come up with these ideas at some point – but I mean, facial dancing for crowded clubs leading to facial aerobics. Who would have thought of that in the 80s?

  12. David says:

    It’s e-Business I think…

  13. heee hee !! Nice read !

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  1. David Schneider on joke thieves and comedy plagiarism | Dave Schneider.co.uk - [...] Here’s a thing I just wrote for the Sunday Times. For a list of nicked jokes (allegedly) and some…

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