Babies are jerks, am I right?
June 20, 2008 10:01 AM   Subscribe

As we were talking about Joke Theft, here's an interesting case. It appears that the Daily Show may have stolen a joke from Penny Arcade.

Certainly, the similarities are there. I personally suspect that it was an unconscious joke theft on the part of one of the writers, reusing something they forgot they saw elsewhere. Assuming it's theft at all; certainly, I only punch babies when they're being dicks, so it's not that much of a stretch.
posted by Caduceus (105 comments total)

 
yeah, when i saw that episode, the first thing i thought was "they lifted that joke from penny arcade." the second thing i thought was "who cares?"
posted by 256 at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2008


Awesome. Some editor I am.

*As we were talking about Joke Theft just the other day, here's an interesting case.
posted by Caduceus at 10:03 AM on June 20, 2008


I don't know, man, babies are dicks like all the time.
posted by The Straightener at 10:04 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eh. It's not hard to imagine that joke could have been the product of two separate, unconnected entities. I'm gonna be honest here: It's just not that awesome a joke.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:05 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Look, plagiarism sucks, but if Penny Arcade actually featured that joke's first appearance anywhere in history, I'll eat my baby hat baby.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:07 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are jokes invented or merely discovered? Is it truly something that's been created or have the Daily Show writers merely revealed the deeper universal truth that Gabe & Tycho also found?
posted by GuyZero at 10:10 AM on June 20, 2008


So first of all, EditorialFilter. And secondly, you think it's so unimportant and easy to explain it needs to be on the front page of MeFi?
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on June 20, 2008


If this is anyone but Steve Allen, you're stealin' my bit!
posted by mazola at 10:14 AM on June 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


Eh. It's not hard to imagine that joke could have been the product of two separate, unconnected entities. I'm gonna be honest here: It's just not that awesome a joke.

Exactly.
Do people claim IP on jokes now? Geez.
posted by tybeet at 10:14 AM on June 20, 2008


Uh, I made a joke about punching a baby yesterday, and I've never read Penny Arcade but for the few times it's been linked here. And my friend responded, "yeah well that baby was an asshole." And THEN I watched the Daily Show this morning and was like, yeah I guess it's not that creative after all. Baby punching jokes are nothing new. Penny Arcade still sucks.
posted by SassHat at 10:15 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Penny Arcade seems to be handling this very appropriately -- not making a stink, but pointing it out.

Of course, they've had their own IP issues recently (scroll down to Gabe's "An Apology" post).
posted by gurple at 10:21 AM on June 20, 2008


Penny Arcade still sucks.

Pretty much the impression i get every time someone pesters me into looking at a link to it. Penny Arcade fans being weirdly self-important about it doesn't help either.
posted by Artw at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's not unheard of. Metafilter's Own hodgman did this segment days after Metafilter's Own bunnytricks made this poorly received SLYT FPP.
posted by bunnytricks at 10:23 AM on June 20, 2008


Exactly.
Do people claim IP on jokes now? Geez.


I'm pretty sure that if you fed Eliza half a dozen Kevin Smith scripts, she'd start crapping out stuff like this at random. Which is probably how both Kevin Smith scripts and Penny Arcade are actually written.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:24 AM on June 20, 2008


I really doubt Penny Arcade came up with the wording of that joke. I'm certain I heard it in one form or another over the years. It's not even that great a joke, really.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2008


The thing is, no one knows what Penny Arcade is and everyone knows John Stewart.

Robin Williams stole from the unknown comics he came up through the ranks with in the comedy clubs. The victims can scream all they want- no one's going to care.
posted by Zambrano at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2008


This also reminds me of some SNL sketch from years ago where a bunch of Humane Society employees were going on about an adorable puppy was a "dick." It's a really simple template joke. "I [did stereotypical bad thing] to a [stereotypical beloved/defenseless thing]. In my defense, [incongruously awful thing about the beloved/defenseless thing]." This joke, especially the flip in the second half, pretty much writes itself.
posted by tepidmonkey at 10:27 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


So much Penny Arcade hate here! Why? I wouldn't say they're my favorite thing ever, and they tend to run jokes into the ground, but they generally give me a chuckle three times a week, which is more than I can say for most webcomics.

Are they really so popular in some circles that people try to shove Penny Arcade down their friends' throats? That would be annoying, I guess.
posted by gurple at 10:28 AM on June 20, 2008


Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:30 AM on June 20, 2008


Weirdly I was only watching this- Stewart Lee, Joe Pasquale joke - yesterday... (you probably need to be British, or know a lot about the UK comedy scene to get the most out of it though...)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Urban Dictionary: punch a baby.

Dane Cook: punch a baby.
posted by ericb at 10:33 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


And secondly, you think it's so unimportant and easy to explain it needs to be on the front page of MeFi?

I thought it was interesting.

Also I wanted to use a babiesaredicks tag.

Penny Arcade still sucks.

They're as funny as something that's not funny at all.
posted by Caduceus at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2008


All jokes are theft.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2008


So much Penny Arcade hate here! Why?

Penny Arcade has some awesome blog posts, oftentimes critical of the game scene, and othertimes just entertaining, eerily introspective stories. I think their comics have suffered some since they've become so involved in things (i.e. Precipice of Darkness, podcasting, working with their charity, and merchandising) and that is just a result of how busy they've become, but hey if that's the road they want to go down I see no harm done - they're all very communal acts, and even appeal to their more hardcore fan base, it just alienates some of their more casual fans.
posted by tybeet at 10:35 AM on June 20, 2008


If Dane Cook said it, it was probably public domain first.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:35 AM on June 20, 2008


...alienates some of their more casual fans.

I'm probably classified as a casual fan. My wife even more so. We both just skim the ones we don't get because the ones we DO get are hilarious. My wife even wanted to buy their book, and she never, ever games and doesn't know much about computers.

The victims can scream all they want- no one's going to care.

You say that like it makes it OK.
posted by DU at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2008


I've been sure on more than one occasion that the daily show writers read mefi after some idea in a thread hear is portrayed there. Wouldn't surprise me to find out they mine other sites too. Though I have to agree, the baby punching idea isn't that original. Isn't there even a term for that kind of joke?

(Daily Show writers, if you DO read mefi, please please please memail me. I promise I won't tell, I just need my curiosity satisfied. )
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:41 AM on June 20, 2008


From the "Penny" link: I had a lot of people telling me we got ripped off. As someone who writes jokes for a living I understand how easy it is to unintentionally copy someone else. Either way there isn't much to do about it except feel flattered I guess.

Mountain, molehill.
posted by not_on_display at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Invisible baby. Asshole baby!
posted by katillathehun at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2008


If Dane Cook said it, it was probably public domain in Louis C.K.'s act first.
posted by turaho at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Thank you for the correction. I'm surprised my spellcheck didn't catch that.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:45 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


All of these jokes were stolen from the Native Americans first.
posted by stavrogin at 10:48 AM on June 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm a big PA fan, but I'm gonna have to put this one on the Not That Big a Deal pile.
posted by danb at 10:48 AM on June 20, 2008


About 10 or 12 years ago, I saw Jay Leno do a joke about "[some basketball player] being voted MVP, while Dennis Rodman was voted 'Miss Personality'". The next morning, I saw Rosie O'Donnell do the exact same joke on her show.

I can't account for how little I must have cared for my life at that time to be watching both of those shows so attentively, though.
posted by anazgnos at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2008


Thank you for the correction. I'm surprised my spellcheck didn't catch that.

You know who else used sarcasm?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2008


Honestly, I thought turaho's FTFY was pretty funny.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:53 AM on June 20, 2008


I made a Bush doesn't care about wet people comment 4 days ago, I'm not up in arms that the daily show said the same thing a few days later.
posted by Mick at 10:54 AM on June 20, 2008


If they both made references to punching the same particular baby, then I'd be suspicious. But baby punching in general is a little too broad to claim ownership.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2008


well, whaddya gunna do, eh?
posted by boo_radley at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2008


Blazecock Pileon : You know who else used sarcasm?

Jesus?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2008


This is a non-issue, and PA is treating it as such. What more is there to say?
posted by owtytrof at 10:57 AM on June 20, 2008


-.-.-maybe penny-arcade stole it by using a time machine-.-.-
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:00 AM on June 20, 2008


Whenever some body mentions babies. I preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:00 AM on June 20, 2008


I was doing puppet jokes on YouTube about terrorism over six months ago, and now Jon Stewart has Gitmo the puppet terrorist! Screw Penny Arcade! When am I gonna get a little lovin'?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:02 AM on June 20, 2008


Urban Dictionary: punch a baby.

I was actually surprised to see that it didn't mean "To have sex with a pregnant woman in her third trimester."
posted by sourwookie at 11:03 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


If Dane Cook said it, it was a terrible joke.
posted by graventy at 11:03 AM on June 20, 2008


You know who else used sarcasm?

Jesus?


"Yeah -- the meek shall inherit the Earth. Right. Mmm hmm. That's so going to happen!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:07 AM on June 20, 2008


The Penny Arcade guys are keen. Their comic is funny if you like it, but it's niche-y stuff and a lot of people don't. That they have rabid fans who brawl with rabid anti-fans is obnoxious as all shit, but that's life. In the meantime, non-rabid fans enjoy the comics and the posts and the miscellaneous crazy shit they pull off (PAX, Child's Play, the game just recently) and leave it at that.

The Daily Show? Also keen. Broader appeal, bigger audience. Also has annoying fans and anti-fans, but the same level of underdog activist-superfan stuff doesn't really apply when you're a household name.

The PA response to the Daily Show thing? Reasoned and non-dramatic. In their shoes, I might have gone so far as to explicitly disclaim the likelihood (but not the bare plausibility) of anything other than parallel evolution here, but eh.

Dane Cook? Hitler.
posted by cortex at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Kind of off topic, but I wonder if "plagiarism" exists in the culinary world. Much like in comedy, in cooking there are only so many ways to combine ingredients to make something successfully palatable.

And just because someone's sandwich is made like your sandwich doesn't mean it tastes as funny.

Crap, I got lost in my own metaphor.
posted by aftermarketradio at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2008


Yes, I'd say that's how Daily Show writers keep their comedy minds razor sharp--by reading frikkin' Penny Arcade.
posted by Glinner at 11:22 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Daily Show did a better job with the joke anyhoo, complete with Photoshop and the works. See, they understand: I don't want to just hear about baby punching, I want to see the little douche getting what it earned.
posted by spamguy at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2008


Its a little known fact that Jon Stewart actually stole his name from the Kingston Trio, though rumors abound that the name may have been originally ripped off from creation by a Scottish philosopher/economist/historian in the early 19th century, but those stories fail to note that in that case it was used as an homage to his boss.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2008


Kind of off topic, but I wonder if "plagiarism" exists in the culinary world.

I think the kind of analogy you're looking for is less of stolen ideas (plagarism), and more of stolen processes or techniques (i.e. violating a patent). With that said, has anyone before patented a recipe?
posted by tybeet at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2008


It's worth noting that earlier Gabe's post said something to the effect of "a lot of you guys are saying they ripped us off, and I'm inclined to agree." That bit seems to be gone now.
posted by danb at 11:29 AM on June 20, 2008


You know who else used sarcasm?

No, I don't.
posted by not_on_display at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Kind of off topic, but I wonder if "plagiarism" exists in the culinary world.

I think the kind of analogy you're looking for is less of stolen ideas (plagarism), and more of stolen processes or techniques (i.e. violating a patent). With that said, has anyone before patented a recipe?


Anyone seen the latest news about Jerry Seinfeld?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:34 AM on June 20, 2008


Babies are stupid


Classic Onion article.....
posted by Debaser626 at 11:38 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


With that said, has anyone before patented a recipe?

The wording of a recipe — the step-by-step procedure for putting together ingredients — is protected under copyright, but the ingredient list and proportions are generally not protected. It's not a patent, but it is some legal protection.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 AM on June 20, 2008


With that said, has anyone before patented a recipe

IANAL but I do not believe it is possible.
posted by drezdn at 11:50 AM on June 20, 2008


It looks like Blazecock is right:

Mere listings of ingredients as in recipes, formulas, compounds or prescriptions are not subject to copyright protection. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection.
posted by drezdn at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2008


Do people claim IP on jokes now? Geez.
posted by tybeet at 1:14 PM on June 20 [+] [!]

Actually, this is a pretty fascinating topic for IP lawyers, and University of Virgina Law Professors Chris Sprigman and Dotan Oliar have written an incredibly interesting article about it called The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms in Stand-Up Comedy. It's absolutely worth the read -- Sprigman is a good friend of mine and one of the great minds in non-traditional thinking about IP -- but here's a quote from the Conclusion:

Intellectual property law does not protect effectively the intellectual creations of comedians. Conventional wisdom would have us believe that this entails a tragedy of commons and suboptimal supply of jokes. Our research makes us pause. We see an operating market. It seems to us that the stand-up industry has economized on the costs of the formal copyright system, and substituted an informal norms-based property regulatory system in its stead.

Is norms-based ordering of stand-up comedy superior to the extant legal system? From comedians’ perspective, the answer seems to be yes. Comedians rely on the norms system, and they choose not to rely on the legal system. Answering this question from a social perspective is more difficult, but it would seem to us – under certain plausible assumptions – to come out the same way. If comedians recoup a greater return on effort under the social norms system, their comedic output will likely be greater and more diverse.


Sprigman has also written extensively and interestingly about other creative areas not protected by copyright -- most notably fashion design, which is exempt from US copyright protection -- and how those communities protect and enforce their IP. Comedians, it turns out, beat each other up.

Also, MetaFilter: a suboptimal supply of jokes.
posted by The Bellman at 11:54 AM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Look, Hat punched that baby in self defense.

FREE HAT!
posted by champthom at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2008


In theory there are only x types of jokes, and all additional jokes are merely snowclones of the initial types. So it should be possible to mathematically model every joke possibility and determine when the last original joke is uttered.

In other words, we've entered the era of Peak Joke.
posted by drezdn at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2008


So did Jon Stewart's writers steal the Gitmo puppet from Jim Henson too?
posted by blucevalo at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2008


Everyone appears to be missing the fact that we're totally in the future where mainstream media steals from independent webcomics.

If anything, the PA guys should be hell of proud.
posted by smackwich at 12:01 PM on June 20, 2008


Penny Arcade can only be proud if:

A) They can actually prove it, and
B) Jon sends them a fruit basket or something. Preferably
C) an actual check they can use to pay off a mortgage.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:06 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are you fucking kidding? The punching babies/babies are dicks jokes go back quite a bit. Louis CK has been doing this bit for years.
posted by basicchannel at 12:11 PM on June 20, 2008


How much does a joke go for on a nationally broadcast basic-cable fake comedy news program anyway?

I don't think you can write a check for that small an amount.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:12 PM on June 20, 2008


What an incredibly unimportant non-event!
posted by Justinian at 12:15 PM on June 20, 2008


Really? There are people who, upon careful consideration, think that a punching-baby joke is so unique and defensible that someone came up with it, and someone else had to steal it? I'm not embarrassed by this tempest in a teapot post, I'm embarrassed I read all the way down here.
posted by danny the boy at 12:17 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think most talk of intellectual property is overblown these days. From the earliest days of oral storytelling, humans have been using memes. A story that can't be told and retold, each time with endless variations, doesn't survive, and a story that does survive is going to have to get passed on and mutated until it finds its best expression. Whether we are talking about movies, music, stories, or any other part of art, people tap into a zeitgeist, reference each other, bounce off each other, grow into their own. Its not stealing. It's not unethical. Its the way humans work - we're social creatures with communal memory banks, and important ideas have to get repeated a lot to make a lasting impression in that memory bank.

Led Zeppelin started out basically ripping off the blues. Picasso started out doing work that wasn't that much different from the other cubists. Dennis Leary started out sounding like Bill Hicks. But then Led Zeppelin did Physical Grafiti, Picasso did Guernica, Rescue Me just isn't something I can see Bill Hicks doing. How many artists start off as derivative of their biggest influence and then end up growing into their own and changing the world?

Dane Cook's problem isn't plagarism, its the fact that he'll never rise above that and doing something better, more novel, on his own, and that he'll never write something good enough that other people will want to steal it.
posted by Kiablokirk at 12:19 PM on June 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Yes, I'd say that's how Daily Show writers keep their comedy minds razor sharp--by reading frikkin' Penny Arcade.

It might explain how much less funny TDS has gotten over the last year or so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:20 PM on June 20, 2008


All jokes are theft. // In theory there are only x types of jokes, and all additional jokes are merely snowclones of the initial types.

Discounting for sarcasm, this is trite and, well, wrong. Unless you are one of the people who dismiss "jokes" as an outdated form of humor, vs. more original "comedy" (whether absurdist, storytelling, surreal, or what have you.)

Even jokes as jokes are -- imho -- counterpunching expectations, so by definition not definable. And reaching further, comedians such as Brother Dave Gardner, Arj Barker, Lily Tomlin, Brother Theodore, Will Franken, etc. make statements like this silly. Even more traditional comedians such as Cosby or Chris Rock -- can you really reduce their jokes to types?
posted by msalt at 12:33 PM on June 20, 2008


Also, an interesting article on whether something is plagiarism if it just resembles something else can be found here.

In general, I agree with Gladwell that it isn't as simple as "well, he's just a thief".
posted by Kiablokirk at 12:38 PM on June 20, 2008


katillathehun et al.,

Stephen Colbert ripped off Ze Frank once. Classy guy that he is, Ze just ribbed him a little.



I miss The Show.
posted by nushustu at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The phrase "rip off" implies a level of intent I don't think is warranted here at all.

Gabe's post about all this has the right attitude.

And let us not forget that Penny Arcade once unintentionally lifted a joke from PVP.

Certain things are such obvious sources of humor, and certain joke formulations are reused enough that independent reinvention happens. I don't quite get why parts of the Internet flip out every time something like this happens.
posted by sparkletone at 2:00 PM on June 20, 2008


PA totally ripped off my baby punch recipe: Pepsi Blue Baby.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2008


Much ado about nothing.
posted by chuq at 2:24 PM on June 20, 2008


I've been sure on more than one occasion that the daily show writers read mefi after some idea in a thread here is portrayed there.

The average episode of Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! has a ton of overlap with the previous week's mefi posts. For instance, I can usually spot the true story in the Bluff the Listener game solely because it showed up on mefi. And at least one of their writers definitely has a mefi account (Adam Felber). That's not an accusation of plagiarism by the way: I think it's totally valid to use mefi as a source for stories and questions.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2008


Metafilter totally rips of boing boing, digg, google news.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on June 20, 2008


I'm reminded me that Samantha had the line "that baby is an asshole" in season 4 of SATC a year or so before the PA strip. Maybe Tycho is a secret fan? That would only make me respect him more.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:04 PM on June 20, 2008


Much ado about nothing.

Your comment! What a rip-off!
posted by ericb at 3:24 PM on June 20, 2008


I'm with tepidmonkey. This joke is decent, but mefimail me when someone manages to rip off I'm about to go from 0 to drunk in $20. I want to see that.
posted by A dead Quaker at 3:42 PM on June 20, 2008


Metafilter totally rips of boing boing, digg, google news.

This complaint totally plagiarizes Metatalk.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:24 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


One time, I poured punch on a baby's dick.
posted by jefbla at 4:33 PM on June 20, 2008


Like many of these pass-around supposed plagiarism stinks, this was a case of independent discovery.

As more people are out there saying anything that comes into their fool heads on the internet, the number of coincidental collisions is only going to increase.
posted by JHarris at 7:15 PM on June 20, 2008


What an incredibly unimportant non-event!

Uh, this is not important. Please no bad info.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2008


IANAIPL/IANAC, but I'm going to use the same defense of TDS that's used for Mencia regarding the "who's gonna build the fence" joke. This is low hanging fruit. Also, most babies really are dicks.
posted by crataegus at 11:26 PM on June 20, 2008


> Sprigman has also written extensively and interestingly about other creative areas not protected by copyright -- most notably fashion design, which is exempt from US copyright protection

...and is about a thousand times more innovative, vibrant, and competitive as a result. There's a lesson, there.
posted by sdodd at 3:22 AM on June 21, 2008


Oh, and Penny Arcade has completely pulled the blog post in question: it now says, "So the two posts I did have here were creating way too much mail for me. Maybe I didn't explain either one of them very well because I spent all day explaining to people what I meant. So I've replaced them with this post that I am hoping will generate significantly less confusion. Don't forget to go pick up Deoxys at your local Gamestop this weekend. -Gabe out"
posted by sdodd at 3:24 AM on June 21, 2008


Slight tangent, but I don't understand the love of Daily Show. It just feels like Americans are desperate for some one to rip the piss out of politics/politicians and have settled for Daily Show and its obvious jokes.

I'll take Have I Got News for You or anything by Chris Morris over Daily Show any day of the week. (Same goes for the HIGNFY-equivalent show in Finland, much funnier than Daily Show). Or maybe Daily Show is just the most prominent and there is actual proper political comedy to be had on American TV that I don't know about...
posted by slimepuppy at 4:08 AM on June 21, 2008


Jokes and food have the same thing in common. Those who care about it value original and new ideas. If you don't care, it's not that big of a deal if you're even aware of it at all. Yes, there's some stuff that's just so easy of an idea to come up with that it's a gimme. That situation is not that big of a deal. This for example, not a deal at all. When someone truly does something new and original and people copy it wholesale or do nothing but copy? That's when people get mad.
posted by False Jesii Inc. at 5:17 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


...and is about a thousand times more innovative, vibrant, and competitive as a result.

Compared to what?
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 9:17 AM on June 21, 2008


It just feels like Americans are desperate for some one to rip the piss out of politics/politicians and have settled for Daily Show and its obvious jokes.

For a lot of us, this is frighteningly close to accurate. Especially during the middle of the bush years, and before public opinion started to turn on the war in Iraq, it started to feel like everyone else was buying into the constant bullshit coming from most TV news and politicians. The Daily Show (and the Colbert Report, which I believe has eclipsed its origins) became an oasis of "oh thank FUCK, I'm not the only one that notices this".

It's also on occasion genuinely bloody hilarious, but it is hit or miss.
posted by flaterik at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2008


Same goes for the HIGNFY-equivalent show in Finland, much funnier than Daily Show

Hate to be an ethnocentric American, but what's the point of making this comparison? How many people have the language skills and video connections to choose between Finnish and American news satire?

On the other hand, if there's an English version on YouTube, do us a favor and post a link.
posted by msalt at 5:19 PM on June 21, 2008


> Compared to what?

A bunch of industries laboring under our broken copyright and patent regimes.

The most obvious example is documentary filmmakers. (They're caught between copyright terms that're often the life of the creator plus a number of years that keeps getting retroactively extended, and a DMCA that permits publishers to use anti-circumvention tech to unilaterally revoke a whole slew of the purchaser's statutory rights.) And whether they're to your taste or not, there are entire genres of sample-based music withering due to the stranglehold the oligopolist record labels have on the industry. Not to mention the plodding pharmaceutical industry, addicted as it is to drug patents. There are other examples.

Fashion is remarkably vibrant and innovative in comparison.
posted by sdodd at 5:55 PM on June 21, 2008


msalt, that was mostly thrown in to point out that political satire/commentary is not unique to the UK examples I mentioned. Apologies if that threw you off from the point I was trying to make. I'm not telling people to look abroad for replacements for the Daily Show (as the UK equivalents deal mostly with UK politics), just wondering why there are no more shows like it that don't pull any punches like the UK/Finnish equivalents. You guys have the best freedom of speech laws in the world (in so much as there is no regulation of it), umpteen good comedy writers, plenty of channels to choose from and several TV personalities that can deliver the lines well, so why settle for something like the Daily Show?

Again, I apologise for my somewhat casual appraisal of the situation as an outsider, but this is the feeling I get.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:46 AM on June 22, 2008


Well, we Americans have no sense of humor. The Brits have us beaten in spades when it comes to guffaws. One look at "Last of the Summer Wine" or "Keeping Up Appearances" will tell you that. And don't even get me started on "Are You Being Served?"
posted by Dave Faris at 7:05 AM on June 22, 2008


Are You Being Served is a brilliant farce and has made me honestly laugh out loud multiple times on almost every episode I've seen. Fantastic writing, acting, the comic timing is superb, the outrageous exagerrated finishes rarely cease to amaze and amuse. I could go on and on about that one. Great work. Even the spinoff series where they were on a farm property instead of in a clothing store was enjoyable, although less so.

Keeping Up Appearances makes me wince more than laugh, although it has had its moments. I think the problem is the culture clash. Academically I enjoy how the jokes are crafted, but as an American I don't see why someone can't walk up to Mrs. Bucket and punch her in the mouth. THAT would be funny.

Last of the Summer Wine literally put me to sleep once.

British comedies that come to mind off the top of my head at the moment which I personally enjoyed include As Time Goes By, Father Ted, My Hero, and of course Fawlty Towers and Monty Python.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:15 AM on June 22, 2008


...oh! and Red Dwarf!
posted by ZachsMind at 8:17 AM on June 22, 2008


sorry if I was snippy, slimepuppy, not my aim. the comparison just felt like "oh, boy if only you knew (but you can't)." I think I was pre-caffeine, too.

Anyway, can you offer us some examples, either via youtube or just typing them? I'd sincerely love to see some of the good stuff.

I've seen Are You Being Served? a couple of times and it just seemed like a cheesy sitcom. Fawlty Towers suited me more but still nothing earth-shaking. A friend has shown me some cool British Radio stuff, "Beyond Our Ken" & such, which I liked. But I certainly wouldn't write off the US sense of humor compared to Britain's.
posted by msalt at 3:30 PM on June 22, 2008


> Compared to what?

A bunch of industries laboring under our broken copyright and patent regimes.

The most obvious example is documentary filmmakers. (They're caught between copyright terms that're often the life of the creator plus a number of years that keeps getting retroactively extended, and a DMCA that permits publishers to use anti-circumvention tech to unilaterally revoke a whole slew of the purchaser's statutory rights.) And whether they're to your taste or not, there are entire genres of sample-based music withering due to the stranglehold the oligopolist record labels have on the industry. Not to mention the plodding pharmaceutical industry, addicted as it is to drug patents. There are other examples.

Fashion is remarkably vibrant and innovative in comparison.


I think your talking points would work better if you left out the part about the fashion industry.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:07 PM on June 22, 2008


I think the point is that US political satire lacks a vicious edge that the UK has, because we still have this sentimentalist view of democracy, even in "intellectual" (HA!) programs like The West Wing. My favorite relatively recent example is Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It. You could make a version of this for the US, but you couldn't air one that was as bleak anywhere (though apparently Mitch Hurwitz tried).

Actually US political satire satirized itself unintentionally with K Street, now that I think about it. What a morally bankrupt project that must have been.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:33 PM on June 22, 2008


Oh, speaking of Louis C.K., not only has Dane Cook ripped him off, but he also has a four-year-old daughter and an act largely built around referring to her as an asshole. You could argue that Penny Arcade plagiarized him. Except that it's pretty obviously just an example of parallel thought. This is a non-issue.
posted by heffalump at 12:26 AM on June 23, 2008


... also, as a primary school teacher, the thought has popped into my head more than once.
posted by heffalump at 12:28 AM on June 23, 2008


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