A couple of days ago, I noticed that a joke written on the packaging for rice pudding was a blatant rip-off of the well-loved (late) comedian, Mitch Hedberg.
I took a photo and posted it on Twitter.
Then it blew up.
Like way up.
Marc Maron, Doug Stanhope, and a host of other people from around the world got onboard and got outraged at the injustice of it.
The company (Aunt Betty’s) caught wind of this and apologised, quickly coming to plate and saying they made a mistake and they’ll remove it from their packaging from now on.
The whole story even made it the Chortle, a UK website dedicated to all things comedy.
NZ company. US comics. UK website.
I hope that this incident can serve as an example to any other companies who think it’s “no big deal” to steal a comedian’s jokes.
Jokes are not open domain. They are not free for anybody who wants to use them for their own gain. Jokes are a tool, a product, a commodity no different from song lyrics, graphic designs, or paintings.
And the artist should always – ALWAYS – be given their due.