Lawsuits in entertainment are nothing new – just ask James Cameron or the billions of people who have tried to bilk money from him over the years – but many of them are centered on vague story ideas or plot points. In the case of a recent suit against Conan O’Brien, TBS and others involved with Conan, the complainant is saying that the show blatantly stole some of his Twitter posts and used them as jokes on the show. That’s a pretty specific accusation. Maybe I’ll write a movie about it…
The suit was filed last week by Robert Kaseberg, who claims that four of his jokes made it from his Twitter account to millions of TBS viewers, and each of the four jokes get mentioned. All happening this year, the posts took aim at a post-Super Bowl Tom Brady, Caitlyn Jenner, Delta Airlines and the Washington Monument. Let’s do a little compare and contrast. This is the joke that Kaseberg says he wrote on February 17, 2015.
The Washington Monument is ten inches shorter than previously thought. You know the winter has been cold when a monument suffers from shrinkage.
After you’re done elbowing your friends in the side, check out the way that Conan’s writers tackled the same concept from an episode apparently on the same day.
There are obvious similarities there, although whether they’re enough to warrant a lawsuit that asks for $600,000, give or take a few lawyer fees, is another matter. Apparently jokes are worth around $150,000 apiece in today’s comedy world, which is an amount that seems exorbitant, considering the jokes made their way into O’Brien’s monologue, rather than somewhere they could be used for profitable means. Maybe Conan has put out a sweater with that quote on it that I’m unfamiliar with.
Of course, no one on TBS’ side of things is backing down. According to THR, the production company released a statement saying, “We at Conaco firmly believe there is no merit to this lawsuit.” If Kaseberg is indeed on the up and up in this situation and no one from Conan is inherently to blame for stealing the jokes, these are some pretty wild coincidences.
And they come at a time when Twitter has apparently decided to start cracking down on joke theft, something that Saturday Night Live has been accused of several times, and was the subject for what is arguably the best episode of Louie to date. Do you guys think that Kaseberg has a shot of winning this thing, or will it all be swept under the rug in a settlement?
Photo Credit: Team Coco