It’s a common occurrence when two people have the same idea. Many writers have had light bulb moments with fresh and unique plots and stories only to discover that someone else beat them to the punch — sometimes years before. In recent history comedian Carlos Mencia was accused by several comedians, including Joe Rogan and George Lopez, of joke stealing. Rogan even approached Mencia during his set at the Comedy Store, which resulted in an uncomfortable confrontation on stage. Rogan was banned from that venue shortly after.
New material — that’s good — is tough to come by, especially when one is in a deadline-driven industry like joke- or sketch-writing. With so much content available on the Internet by genuinely funny people who can never prove their concept was stolen, the temptation to lift ideas, gags and bits is very strong. On October 23, 2010 Saturday Night Live aired a parody of a Brett Favre Wrangler jeans commercial to make light of the recent “penis photos” scandal surrounding the NFL player. The commercial is funny, but it may have been lifted from the Los Angeles-based comedy group Cheap Shots.
A week before the SNL parody aired, Cheap Shots posted their parody commercial on YouTube:
Ignoring the disparity in production value, the two commercials are pretty close. On the other hand, they are both spoofing the same commercial so there are bound to be similarities. Is it possible that someone at Saturday Night Live lifted the idea from Cheap Shots a week before? Or is this pure coincidence?