Jerry Seinfeld is objectively one of the most successful, if not the most successful, comedians of all time. His credentials include a hit web series, going on five decades of standup success, hundreds of millions of dollars, and a little sitcom, which shares his namesake, that you may have heard of.
However, some are pointing to a routine that he used on a Stephen Colbert appearance recently as a sign that he’s not above stealing others’ material to get a few laughs.
That’s the tone that GQ takes when comparing his routine on obesity in America to that of Jim Gaffigan’s, which is about a decade old, and originally appeared on David Letterman’s version of the Late Show prior to Colbert taking over in 2015.
Fortunately for Jerry Seinfeld and fans not wanting to see an idol taken down, there is nothing too condemning about the alleged theft from this writer’s perspective.
Yes, the two men discuss the obesity epidemic in America in somewhat similar terms, but the similarities are pretty circumstantial.
Don’t take the Inquisitr‘s word for it, though. First, here is the Jerry Seinfeld version, which also contains a rather hilarious aside about the absurdity of donut holes (seriously, classic Seinfeld).
Now, here is Jim Gaffigan’s take. It is funny in its own way, but pretty dissimilar with the exception of the subject matter. If you would like to see the part in question, fast forward to 2:04.
What is particularly interesting about this Gaffigan routine is that if you listen long enough to get to the Cinnabon part, that will probably remind you of this act from Louis CK circa 2008, two years after Gaffigan tested the material on Letterman.
A Reddit thread clears up much of the confusion.
The long and short of it is this: Comedians have unique perspectives and are fiercely observant of the world around them. As such, it’s only natural that they will sometimes explore similar material, something Gaffigan pointed out when someone asked him about Louis CK’s foray into “his” material.
“Comics write to their point of view,” Gaffigan said. “If you’re an exceedingly irreverent comedian, you’ve got to see where that point of view fits or produces the most funny. It’s finding topics that have not been mined to death, but there’s part of you as a comedian that thinks there’s still something in those topics. People are like, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it!’ Airlines would be a classic example.”
Incidentally, Jerry Seinfeld became famous for his airline material, among other observations. The character of George Costanza even joked about how it “seemed like a lot of guys are doing that sort of material” on an episode of Seinfeld.
Whether Louis CK or Jerry Seinfeld are guilty of “ripping off” Gaffigan, his comments don’t seem to indicate he would care.
“If you came up with a great observation on airlines, it would almost be more rewarding,” he concluded.
Comedians have been riffing on many of the same topics for years, and there is a difference between bringing a unique take to something Jim Gaffigan might have once tried — like Jerry Seinfeld does with obesity in America or Louis CK does with Cinnabon — and one comedian directly lifting another comedian’s material.
What do you think about the above videos, readers?
Did Jerry Seinfeld steal material from Jim Gaffigan, or did GQ just manufacture a fake controversy? Sound off in the comments section below, and while you’re at it, who do you think is the top comedian working today?