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The Late Late Show’s James Corden accused of copying Ricky Gervais’ joke

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The Late Late Show’s James Corden accused of copying Ricky Gervais’ joke

In response to accusations of copying a joke of comedian Ricky Gervais, James Corden has accepted that he said it but didn’t know it came from Gervais.

The anchor of The Late Late Show delivered a talk about Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter and included a joke that fans noticed was strikingly similar to one from Gervais's 2018 stand-up performance Humanity.

In the joke, Corden said: “When you see Elon Musk talk about Twitter he does this thing where he goes, ‘Well, it’s the town square’.

“But it isn’t. Because if someone puts up a poster in a town square that says ‘guitar lessons available’, you don’t get people in the town going, ‘I don’t want to play the guitar! I want to play the piano, you piece of shit!’

“Well that sign wasn’t for you, it was for someone else. You don’t have to get mad about all of it!”

While Ricky Gervais' version said: "That's like going into a town square, seeing a big noticeboard and there's a notice - 'guitar lessons' - and you go 'but I don't want guitar lessons' - fine, it's not for you then, just walk away, don't worry about it."

In response to the allegations, Corden tweeted: "Inadvertently told a brilliant Ricky Gervais joke on the show last night, obviously not knowing it came from him.”

“It’s brilliant, because it’s a Ricky Gervais joke. You can watch all Ricky’s excellent specials on Netflix. J x”.

However, Gervais defended Corden when a Twitter user asked if the latter had sought permission to use the joke.

He replied: “No. I reckon one of the writers ‘came up with it’ for him. I doubt he would knowingly just copy such a famous stand up routine word for word like that.”

The BBC quotes lawyer Laura Trapnell from Paris Smith as saying that if the comic wrote the joke down or performed it, it may be protected as a literary or theatrical work.

"The infringer is the person who affects the copying, so that may not be James Corden if, as Ricky Gervais suggests, his team wrote the joke and he merely delivered it," she said.

"If he had no idea that the joke was copied, then James Corden would be what's called an innocent infringer.”

"This means that he's still liable for performing a copied dramatic work. It all starts to get a bit complicated.”

"The writers would be the ones in the firing line," Laura concluded.

PitchMark recently covered a story of another high-profile comedian, Amy Schumer, being accused of plagiarizing a joke from Twitter for her Oscars opening speech.

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Mark Laudi

Mark Laudi

Press contact Managing Partner (+65) 6223 2249

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