The concept of joke theft is nothing new in the stand-up comedy world. And in that world, it feels that there is no crime worse than taking another comedian’s material and attempting to make it your own. There have been some notable beefs between comics over the years — Louis C.K. and Dane Cook, Joe Rogan and Carlos Mencia, Patton Oswalt and the Fat Jew — and it’s very clear which comic from those three examples came out on top. Recently, new Daily Show host Trevor Noah was accused of stealing a joke from Dave Chappelle and after her first HBO special premiered over the weekend, the internet has turned its sights on Amy Schumer.
The folks over at ComedyHype pointed out some similarities between Schumer’s closing jokes in the hour-long special and that of a bit performed by the late great comedian Patrice O’Neal. The subject matter in question touches on a variety of sex acts which O’Neal refers to as “the Gorilla Mask” and “the Poltergeist.” YouTuber Cornelius Augustus Von Meyerbeer III took it upon himself to edit the classic bit from 2007 with that of Schumer’s where she refers to similar sounding sex acts as “the Abraham Lincoln” and “the Houdini.” Exactly how similar are the jokes in question? Take a look:
It’s pretty evident that both jokes are close to the same but there’s not much contention coming from O’Neal’s camp since the comic passed away in November of 2011 after suffering a stroke. Still, the cries of joke thievery have been loud enough for Schumer to briefly comment on the allegations on Twitter.
If you look at both jokes, the structural delivery is almost the same but they differ in punchlines. As well, the sex acts referenced by both comedians — who were good friends — have existed online for quite sometime. With accusations such as these, it’s usually helpful for the other party to come forward and further place blame or absolve the comic accused of taking their laughs. Lucky for us, that absolution looks to have come from comic, and transgender women enthusiast, Jim Norton.
Earlier on Monday, Norton took to his Facebook page to confront the notion that Amy Schumer stole jokes from Patrice O’Neal and long story short, he believes the comic is innocent:
In the post, Norton points out the fact that the sex acts referenced in both bits have existed in one sense or another online long before either comedian took to talking about them on stage. Unfortunately, we will never hear O’Neal’s thoughts on the matter. Still, the argument — no matter how ignorant Mr. Norton thinks it is — continues. So, is Amy Schumer guilty of joke theft? Place your judgement in the comments below, Internet.