If joke stealing is the highest crime for comedians, let’s make sure we’re convicting someone with evidence that’s a slam dunk. After the Joe Rogan / Carlos Mencia confrontation made a huge tear through the web, I posted on how I don’t think anyone can claim to own the “Who’s Gonna Built the Wall” joke. I’ve found at least two other examples of that joke being told by the comics D. L. Hughley and George Lopez. And I’ve edited them into my own video. Watch below:
I heard that Paul Rodriguez also told it during Last Comic Standing last year. (Haven’t been able to acquire the video yet. If I do, I’ll add it.) Four or five comics coming up with the same joke? That seems like parallel thinking.
And each of the comics had their own spin or take afterwards, making the joke a setup for something else:
- George Lopez follows up that to get white people to do it will require waiting for permits.
- D.L. Hughley mentions that black people won’t do the job and then impersonates a white person working out in the sun.
- Carlos Mencia has the white foreman tell the immigrants to check the Mexico side of the fence when they’re finished so they can close the doors.
- Ari Shaffir does something with it too, I’m sure. I just don’t have the original video.
They all make it their own. Some with better results than others. (If you ask me which was most successful. I’d have to say George Lopez but that’s only because I was in the audience for Comic Relief. He was the first guy I remembered from that night who killed.) It’s interesting to note that this joke is also at the beginning of most of their acts - so they can go from something general and then lead the audience to their own very specific take on an issue that was in the news. This means you’re going to find a lot more similarities between comics if you watch their first three minutes than if you watch their last five. I don’t like much of Carlos Mencia’s comedy either. But I’m not going to make judgments on whether a comic steals be clouded by my dislike for them. Joke stealing is a complex issue. I hope Joe Rogan keeps on making joke stealers afraid, very afraid, by bringing more and more potentially stolen material to light. But everything should be questioned, because this is the worst label you can put on a comic. Previously: Steal this Joke: Louis C.K. vs. Dane Cook vs. Steve Martin For some good background on joke stealing, check out this article from Radar by Larry Getlen. It talks about Robin Williams, Denis Leary, Milton Berle along with Cook and Mencia.