I’ve been ignoring much of Last Comic Standing - but I couldn’t pass this up. If you’re sick of hearing about joke stealing, just skip this post.
As part of Last Comic Standing’s web extras, LCS 2 contestant Ant commented recently about the similarity of one hopeful’s joke to that of another comic. Here’s his vlog entry:
It’s a little disappointing in a way because, as Ant mentions, he himself has been accused of lifting material by Joe Rogan. He knows how damaging it is, so it seems like to me, that he’d be loathe to do it himself. If you don’t like what Rogan did to you, if you thought it was unfair, why do it to someone else? He even has a great little forum to educate people on the idea of parallel thinking.
The material in question is, as some have stated, an obvious joke, but I’m going to outline a little bit how obvious it is.
Both Pete and Ali are talking about an actual chart - the Body Mass Index chart. They didn’t make it up (or steal it from the other).
When you have a certain BMI number, you can be clinically described as anywhere from “underweight” to “morbid obesity.” The chart is tilted more to the “overweight” side - hence there’s a lot of different words to describe how fat someone is (it’s the American version of the many Eskimo words for snow). It’s a measure that many a doctor uses. Several people a day are told that they are clinically obese by the BMI chart in hopes of scaring them a little into losing weight. (Read more about the chart on wikipedia’s entry for obesity.)
In other words, neither Ali nor Pete have had a little snowflake experience - it wasn’t unique to either. It’s entirely possible that they were both amused at how weighted the BMI scale is for describing obesity. I.E.: parallel thinking.
Now, if Pete’s been on the same bill as Ali or toured with Ali or performed regularly with Ali, perhaps there’s a case here. There has to be a chance that you might have seen the other’s bit. But Ant doesn’t really outline that here. I’m a little dubious that there was much as the two comics are based in different ciites (Pete in Toronto, Ali in San Francisco.)
This has made me think I show write up a flow chart for determining whether a joke might have been stolen or not. If you have some input on some of the diamonds (conditional steps) that would make up that chart, feel free to suggest them in the comments.