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Whose Line is it Anyway?



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It’s an age-old debate – is there such thing as an original idea?  Recently Last Call Cleveland, 2009 TOsketchfest Best of the Fest Award Winners, came face-to-face with that question.  A small scandal erupted over a routine on Conan O’Brien by Canadian standup stand-out Jon Dore and Rory Scovel.  In the bit, Conan’s staff has unfortunately overbooked the show.  As a result, the two comics had been asked to share the stage and deliver their material simultaneously.  While the joke of the bit is quite different, the premise and delivery is eerily similar to a popular Last Call Cleveland scene, “Dueling Standups” that I first saw them perform at The Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival in 2008.

The real issue here, of course, is was there any wrong-doing? Was an idea ‘stolen?’

Here are the two pieces.  What do you think?


- Jon Dore and Rory Scovel on Conan O’Brien


- Last Call Cleveland live at iOWest

It’s a simple enough concept – and in comedy the simplest ideas are often the best.  There are a lot of comics out there chasing those ideas.  So it’s not inconceivable that different people could have come up with similar concepts independently of each other.  I’m no standup comedian myself, but this kind of thing surely happens all the time – particularly with topical material.  But I bet it sure burns when you see your idea played out by someone else (especially if their execution is better than yours).

Anyway for my part, I’m still looking for credit from Will Ferrell for that a capella version of “Afternoon Delight” in the film “Anchorman” – an idea he clearly stole from a certain of my many unpublished manuscripts.  I have yet to hear from him or his attorney on the subject.