Did French Comic Tomer Sisley Steal Jokes from Nearly 20 Comedians?

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

French actor and comedian Tomer Sisley might become the new poster child for joke stealing.

Tomer Sisley is probably best known to American audiences for his role as a drug dealer in "We're the Millers." But he rose to prominence in France for stand-up, particularly for introducing American style stand-up to French audiences. With these videos (above and below) produced by Ben at CopyComicVideos, Tomer appears to given a more literal introduction to American stand-up, performing jokes and routines - sometimes word for word - from nearly 20 English-speaking comedians, largely from stand-up specials performed in 1999 to 2004.

I encourage you to watch them in full. It's pretty shameless - the wording in many cases is exact, just in French. Some of the evidence here is less strong than others, of course. But in the past few years even just stealing an individual bit from a comedian would be daming for a stand-up. Here Sisley appears to have taken individual bits from Ted Alexandro, Jon StewartNick Swardson, Mitch Hedberg and, of course, the perennially-stolen-from Bill Hicks. And many, many more.

I first talked to Ben at CopyComic about this project exactly one year ago, after he found my own videos about joke stealing. I helped him identify a couple of sources for original jokes, but the production and the credit for putting this together is all his. It's amazing amount of work and judging for the stories already being written in the French press (and Tomer's Twitter @s), it's already having an effect.

A couple of takeaways about this. One for American stand-up and the other for French and other nascent international scenes.

For Americans, this reflect that stand-up comedy is far more universal than I think many assume. If an American stand-up wants to pull an Eddie Izzard and learn another language, they could probably do their act in more countries. There's an opportunity here to bring their work to other places. I don't expect a lot to do this, but the idea that comedy translates, connects and binds us, particularly in these troubled times, is somewhat heartwarming.

More relevant is the takeaway for French (and other International) comedy scenes. Simply French comedy clubs and comedians should actively watch out for this. By elevating comedians who are not original, it diminishes the chances for a unique French take on stand-up to develop. In a scene where stealing is rewarded, stealing becomes the practice. Young artists will never be able to produce as much material as those less principled. Those same artists may be anxious about getting their work ‘lifted’… once it starts with original English work it does not mean it stops there. French audiences deserve a chance to hear authentic French voices perform stand-up. 


CopyComic has been sending out snippets to some of the possibly plagarized comics for reaction, particularly confirming they didn't sell the jokes to Tomer. Judy Gold is the first to respond:

Posted by Todd Jackson at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Trailer Promises Obscenity vs Domesticity

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

The initial pilot for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was near perfect to my mind. Set in the late 50s, Miriam “Midge” Maisel has established her ideal life - husband and two kids on the Upper West Side. When that blows up, she begins performing stand-up (an aspiration of her less-talented husband). The first episode captured the central contradiction of Joan Rivers so perfectly - a comedian who sometimes re-enforced societal expectations on women even while breaking many herself. Plus it pulled off presenting Midge credibly as an actually funny comedian, as funny as other characters asserted she was. In a drama about comedy this is no small feat. No wonder Amazon ordered it to series for not just one season but two.

From the looks of this first trailer above, we'll be seeing Midge at first having a lot of run-ins with the law for obscenity and a run-in with the (former?) in-laws at a dinner. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" start on Amazon Prime November 29.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Sarah Silverman Introspective and Self-Deprecating with this Song for “I Love You America”

Filed Under Late Night

As someone who possibly lives in a liberal bubble but with roots in the south, I'm looking forward to seeing Sarah Silverman's new half hour talk show "I Love You America." Hopefully the show finds a way to bridge the divide without Silverman having to compromise her trangressive silly sense of humor. Above is the song that teases the tone of the show, which mostly targets Silverman's herself as potentially "part of the problem."

Sarah Silverman's "I Love You America" starts it's 10 Episode Run on Hulu starting October 12th.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

Watch Tonight: Funny How? on Viceland

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

I'm very much looking forward to this series. Kliph Nesteroff seems to be combining his incredibly deep knowledge of comedy with an appropriate amount of humility and jokes targeted at himself. It's something that anyone who claims to know about comedy should do (including me!).

See this tweet:

And this one:

Funny How premieres tonight on Viceland at 11 PM with an episode about Christian Comedy. A new episode follows every night this week at 11PM.Check out the trailer below.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Trailer for “Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time.” Or Perhaps Teaser is a Better Word.

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

'Cuz - Spoiler Alert - Rory Scovel has done this before.

I could try and "Yes And" the premise of the facetious title for Rory Scovel's upcoming Netflix special "Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time.” Pretend that this could be the most painful hour ever streamed and chide Netflix for running out of comics to give specials to. But I think I'm going leave this in professional hands.

Considering how difficult and weird our times are, Scovel's brand of partly improvised silliness is so welcome. That real sense of play - that he's having fun up there - just transfers and washes over an audience. Completely infectuous. Looking forward to this. 

And you don't have to wait long. "Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For The First Time" premieres June 20th on Netflix.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

Dave Chappelle Screens Unreleased Special to Minneapolis Crowd

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

I live near Webster Hall in NYC... so Kanye West's not-to-be pop-up show was a fascinating spectacle for me in the difference between music and comedy. Earlier that day, my attentions had been on a quieter pop-up event in Minnesota.

Last night at the Riverview Theatre in Minneapolis, Dave Chappelle showed a unreleased comedy special to a crowd of roughly 700 people. Chappelle has not released a special in over 10 years. So to see something he might release is pretty big.

There hasn't much been about the content of the special online - not even a title. But the audience did love it:


Sounds great. Will it ever be released? At least a couple folks from the audience seemed to think that was unlikely...

I'm sure that's disappointing for sure, but that's Dave Chappelle. He's does what he wants. And he should.

What could help him to decide to release it? Post Comedy Central, money has not been the driving factor for Chappelle. Netflix or HBO would offer a great deal of money for a new Dave Chappele special, but I doubt that would make a difference.

With the Internet, never have stand-ups has more control in how they release their specials, but Dave doesn't have a website or even an active Twitter account. I'm not certain Chappelle looks at the Internet as a place for artistic freedom. Considering the no-cell-phone policy at his shows, I'd imagine that the web seems like more of a nuisance to him that anything else. So I'm not sure even a self-released special is likely.

This special screening was added late in Chappelle's Minneapolis run of shows, which suggests to me that this was pretty spontaneous. So when Chappelle does come to your town, I would not be surprised if he does it again - at a moment's notice. A pop-up special. Try not to stampede anybody on your way there.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Psssh Wrrrr Woo Goes the “Lady Dynamite” Trailer

Filed Under Sitcom

Transforming trouble and pain into laughs is the alchemy of Comedy. Maria Bamford is one of the best at this in stand-up and now, in the forthcoming "Lady Dynamite" from Netflix, we'll see her do it in a more narrative form. The trailer above just dropped yesterday.

It's "Semi-Autobiographical" (her Target spokesperson campaign looks to be suggested around :39) but also takes to flights of fancy (getting slapped by a hampster!). She's partnered in this with Mitch Hurwitz of Arrested Development which is exciting because he already played with the streaming form with that sitcom's last season. The trailer also gives us glimpses at a deep bench of guest stars and cameos like Sarah Silverman, Bridget Everett, Ana Gasteyer, The Lucas Brothers and Jason Mantzoukas.

"Lady Dynamite" begins streaming on Netflix May 20th.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)