Conan O’Brien Sued For Plundering Twitter For Jokes, But Accusations Will Be Hard To Prove
A California comedian has sued Conan O’Brien in federal court for stealing jokes straight from his Twitter account and blog, though they aren’t exactly side-splitters.
The wisecracks comic Robert Kaseberg claims O’Brien lifted from his old personal stash of one-liners include ones about flying, the Washington Monument, and Caitlyn Jenner (the last of which is pretty offensive). None are exactly groundbreaking.
Now that the late night host has been sued, Conaco reps have officially replied with denial, but the social media platform at least is beginning to take intellectual property (creations of the intellect) seriously, USA Today reported. Kaseberg is, too — he’s sued Conan O’Brien for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
The lawsuit alleges that several jokes were posted on his late-night monologue-style personal blog and Twitter account, then showed up a few hours later in O’Brien’s own monologue, Mediaite reported. He had put off legal action for a while, hoping “In the back of my mind (for) a Brian Williams-like in-house investigation would be launched inside ‘Conan’ and I would be vindicated.”
That didn’t happen, so he sued Conan instead. (Kaseberg has said he wrote for Jay Leno for 20 years, as well as for TV and radio)
The jokes the two comics are tussling over are pretty standard late-night fare. The New York Daily News gave a breakdown of three of the quips in question (in each case, there’s an associated Conan joke, which is pretty much the same, save a little tweaks in wording).
“A Delta flight this week took off from Cleveland to New York with just two passengers. And they fought over control of the armrest the entire flight.”
“Three streets named after Bruce Jenner might have to change their names. And one could go from a Cul-de-Sac to a Cul-de-Sackless.”
“The Washington Monument is ten inches shorter than previously thought … You know the winter has been cold when a monument suffers from shrinkage.”
There’s apparently a fourth joke about Tom Brady for which Conan has been sued.
Robert apparently talked with Conan head writer Mike Sweeney over the phone about his accusations, and according to the comic, Sweeney made him feel “Like I was some crazy man whose thoughts were being stolen by a TV show.”
“He was furious that I was accusing them of stealing jokes, but most of all he was incensed that I would suggest his writers would have anything to do with my pathetic blog and it’s author, me, a no-name failure… To be told you’re a crazy failure by the head writer of one of your comedy idols is much worse. It is devastating.”
Here’s the problem, however: Robert’s version of some of the one-liners don’t appear in searches of either his blog or his Twitter account, Mediaite pointed out. Also, in theory the comic could’ve edited his blog posts (posted on Google’s Blogspot platform) after the fact to make it look like Conan O’Brien stole them.
Either way, once word that O’Brien had been sued got out, his sidekick Andy Richter responded on Twitter, Entertainment Weekly reported.
There's no possible way more than one person could have concurrently had these same species-elevating insights! THESE TAKES ARE TOO HOT!
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) July 27, 2015
[Photo Courtesy Christopher Polk/Getty Images]