Social media and regular media were buzzing with allegations today that Amy Schumer might have committed the highest comedic sin- stealing a joke. And it get’s worse because the comedian she was accused of stealing from was the late great Patrice O’Neal. After Schumer’s new special aired on Monday night, allegations began circulating that one of her bits was suspiciously similar to material performed by Patrice.
Headlines quickly popped up throughout the internet raising questions. Headlines like, Comedy Hype’s “Amy Schumer Called Out For Stealing Patrice O’Neals Jokes, Video Surfaces” and this one on Uproxx.com, “Did Amy Schumer Steal Jokes From Late (and Great) Comedian Patrice O’Neal.” The New York Post asked “Did Amy Schumer Steal Jokes From a Dead Comedian?” in a tweet linking to decider.com. Then there was Barstool Sports “Amy Schumer Now Under Fire For Potentially Stealing Jokes For Her Special From Patrice O’Neal,” BroBible, “Amy Schumer is Accused of Stealing These Raunchy Jokes From Patrice O’Neal. What Do Bros Think?” and plenty more.
The idea that Amy Schumer might steal a joke from Patrice O’Neal is pretty tough to buy, without even hearing the joke. Not only does Schumer run in the same circles as Patrice did, but she was and remains a fan of his. And with Schumer being as high profile as she is these days, the idea that she would intentionally use anyone else’s jokes is pretty preposterous. The risk reward analysis (of being found out versus the reward she would receive from pirating a joke) makes the likelihood that Schumer is stealing bits pretty slim. And then there’s that other small factor, that Schumer is amazingly talented and doesn’t need to steal material.
The bits in question bring up the topic of urban slang for sex positions and cover similar territory, but Schumer denied stealing the joke and claims she hasn’t even heard Patrice’s bit. She addressed it briefly on her twiiter. “I have never seen that Patrice bit,” she said, “but I will watch today. I love and miss him.” Some fans remain unconvinced, but close friends of both Schumer and O’Neal set the record straight tonight. Colin Quinn, and Jim Norton, two of O’Neal’s colleagues and closest friends went on twitter and Facebook tonight to explain why Schumer is not a thief, particularly noting the difference between addressing the same premise that another comic used versus stealing the joke about that premise. If you’re still on the fence, consider this. If someone was stealing from Patrice O’Neal, Colin Quinn and Jim Norton would be leading the outrage mob.
This morning, more voices spoke out supporting Schumer, most notably Von De Carlo, Patrice’s long time girlfriend who said that the jokes in question were not original to Patrice, nor did he claim they were ‘his’. Comedian Dante Nero who opened for Patrice and co-hosted The Black Philip Show with Patrice also spoke out, saying that Schumer doesn’t steal and those weren’t Patrice’s ‘bits.
You can listen to both below, if for no other reason than to hear two great comics being very very funny.
Schumer’s new special Amy Schumer Live at the Apollo is currently airing on HBO, and you can and should listen to all of Patrice’s specials any chance you get.
— Von Decarlo Brown (@VonDecarlo) October 20, 2015
About @amyschumer thing, a premise is not a joke. And a premise thats part of popular culture is not anybody's. Patrice would agree.
— Colin Quinn (@iamcolinquinn) October 20, 2015
— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) October 19, 2015
@amyschumer doesnt steal!Patrice didnt create "houdini" or "Polterguise" sex positions He picked them up while doing Colleges talked aboutem
— Dante Nero (@DanteNero) October 19, 2015