Amy Schumer Claps Back at Trolls Calling Her a Joke Thief

Reddit users noted similarities in a sex joke told by Amy Schumer and comedian Patrice O'Neal almost 10 years apart

Maybe great minds think alike after all.

Comedian Amy Schumer had a lot to say to trolls who accused her of stealing jokes from another comedian.

Reddit users in a 2015 channel claimed she stole a sex joke about sexual acts from her fellow comedian and friend, Patrice O’Neal.

The channel included a video showing O’Neal making the joke during his 2007 appearance on the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival’s “The Nasty Show” in Montreal. The video then shows Schumer making the same joke but using different names to describe the acts during her 2015 “Live at the Apollo” stand-up.

O’Neal calls the acts “The Gorilla Mask” and “The Poltergeist,” but Schumer refers to them as “The Abe Lincoln” and “The Houdini.”

“Dear sweet misunderstood geniuses in the bowels of sub-Reddit chat rooms, I have never stolen a joke in my life,” Schumer wrote in an Instagram post.

Schumer cited the six hours of televised stand-up and 20 hours of comedy on TV shows and movies she's done. She also said it’s possible that her shows unintentionally discussed themes covered by other comics, but her writers always scrapped the material once they realized it.

The sex terms in question also existed on Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary for slang, long before either comedians made the jokes on-air. One of the earliest entries for “The Houdini” is 2003.

“My best friends are comics,” Schumer wrote. “If you are someone who steals jokes you don’t get to be best friends with the comics you love and respect. I would be shunned by the community.”

This is not the first time Schumer’s been accused of stealing jokes.

In 2016, female comedians Kathleen Madigan, Wendy Liebman and Tammy Pescatelli accused Schumer via Twitter of stealing material from their sets, according to Vox.

All the women's tweets regarding the issue have since been deleted. Madigan, Liebman and Oescatelli also walked back the accusations, chalking the similarities in the jokes up to “parallel thinking.”

In all of the cases where Schumer is accused of copying jokes, however, she never repeats the other versions verbatim even if jokes have the same theme or punchline. 

The same can be said of the joke she shared with O’Neal, who died from a stroke in 2011.

One commenter on the now inactive chat pointed out that Schumer’s jokes differ from O’Neal’s because Schumer points out the misogyny and rape culture on display in the 2007 version.

“These have been around for so long and they haven't provided any insight into humanity beyond the reality that some men get off on the idea of disrespecting a woman they're having sex with,” Reddit user hotprof wrote. “Downvote all you like, but at least Amy called out the Houdini for what it is, rape.” 

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